Music directorGerald Fried Duration CountryUnited States
WriterMarjorie Kellogg, Sylvia Plath Release dateMarch 21, 1979 Initial releaseMarch 21, 1979 (New York City) CastMarilyn Hassett (Esther Greenwood), Julie Harris (Mrs. Greenwood), Jameson Parker (Buddy Willard), Anne Jackson (Dr. Nolan), Barbara Barrie (Jay Cee), Robert Klein (Lenny) Related Larry Peerce moviesLarry Peerce directed The Bell Jar and The Other Side of the Mountain, Larry Peerce directed The Bell Jar and The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2, Larry Peerce directed The Bell Jar and Goodbye - Columbus, Larry Peerce directed The Bell Jar and A Woman Named Jackie, Larry Peerce directed The Bell Jar and Hard to Hold
TaglineSometimes just being a woman is an act of courage...
The bell jar 1979
The Bell Jar is a 1979 film based on Sylvia Plath's 1963 roman à clef; it was directed by Larry Peerce, and stars Marilyn Hassett and Julie Harris. The story follows a young woman's summer in New York City working for a women's magazine, her return home to New England, and her subsequent psychological breakdown within the context of the difficulties of the 1950s—ranging from the Rosenbergs' execution, to the disturbing aspects of pop culture, to the distraction of predatory college boys.
Janet Maslin of The New York Times was unimpressed, stating that the film's portrayal of Esther was "disastrous [...] because it is the character's imaginative life that leads her to a collapse, and the movie barely even goes skin-deep. The audience isn't given the slightest clue about Esther's quirks, her fears, her peculiarly distorted notion of herself." The film has a "way of spelling things out ad nauseam and still not making them clear." Even where it should have flourished, like in descriptions of Esther's life in New York, "there's no satirical edge to any of this, and no dramatic edge either. It all simply plods along, en route to a nervous collapse that manages to seem perfectly unwarranted by the time it finally occurs."
After the movie's release, Dr. Jane V. Anderson, a Boston psychiatrist, claimed she was portrayed as the character "Joan" and filed a lawsuit. In the film, Joan attempts to get Esther to agree to a suicide pact, an incident which is not in the book. Joan is implied to be a lesbian in Plath's novel, although this is never explicitly stated. Dr. Anderson's lawyer said the film portrayal "has grossly damaged her reputation as a practising psychiatrist and a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty."