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Film & TV

Judy Blume’s Career Renaissance: Film Adaptation and Documentary

  • Craig Miller
  • |
  • May 2, 2023
  • |
  • 3 minute read
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Judy Blume’s Career Renaissance: Film Adaptation and Documentary
Key Takeaways
  • At 85, beloved author Judy Blume is experiencing a career renaissance with back-to-back film projects, the documentary Judy Blume Forever and the film adaptation of her classic novel, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.
  • Blume was selective when it comes to Hollywood adaptations of her work but was convinced that the writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig and producer James L. Brooks were the right team for Margaret. She shared her insights with the filmmakers to ensure the film's authenticity.
  • The film adaptation of Margaret has brought renewed attention to the novel's themes, including anti-Semitism experienced by Margaret's grandparents, demonstrating the novel's depth and enduring relevance.
  • Blume acknowledges the unique experience of having both a documentary about her life and a film adaptation of her work released so closely together, but she sees them as separate entities.
  • Blume's novels are celebrated for their openness about teenage concerns, and the film adaptation of Margaret remains faithful to the book while offering a fresh perspective, capturing the same sense of honesty and self-discovery.

 

At 85, beloved author Judy Blume is experiencing a career renaissance with back-to-back film projects.

The documentary Judy Blume Forever is now available on Prime Video, while the long-awaited film adaptation of her classic novel, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, hits theaters on April 28.

The former offers a biographical account of Blume’s life and career, while the latter has been eagerly anticipated by her fans for years.

Judy Blume and Hollywood Adaptations

Blume has been known to be selective when it comes to Hollywood adaptations of her work. However, writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s Edge of Seventeen convinced her that Craig and producer James L. Brooks were the right team for Margaret.

The author shared her insights with the filmmakers to ensure the film’s authenticity, even correcting the portrayal of the iconic “We must, we must, we must increase our bust” exercise.

Acclaim for Margaret’s Cast

Blume has praised the film’s cast, particularly Abby Ryder Fortson (Margaret), Rachel McAdams (Barbara), and Kathy Bates (Grandma).

She appreciates how the film provides a more nuanced portrayal of the adult characters compared to the book, which is written from a 12-year-old’s perspective.

Rediscovering Themes in Margaret

The film adaptation of Margaret has brought renewed attention to the novel’s themes, including anti-Semitism experienced by Margaret’s grandparents.

Many adult readers have expressed surprise at not having noticed this theme in their childhood readings, demonstrating the novel’s depth and enduring relevance.

The film adaptation of Margaret has brought renewed attention to the novel’s themes, including anti-Semitism experienced by Margaret’s grandparents.

Documentary and Film as Bookends?

Blume acknowledges the unique experience of having both a documentary about her life and a film adaptation of her work released so closely together.

However, she sees them as separate entities, with the former being an emotionally challenging but beautifully handled portrayal of her life and the latter being a product of her imagination.

The Power of Judy Blume’s Writing

Blume’s novels are celebrated for their openness about teenage concerns such as sex, menstruation, and bullying.

However, their enduring appeal comes from the author’s sensitivity, compassion, and understanding of young people’s struggles.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret remains her best-selling book and has permeated popular culture.

Faithfulness and Honesty in the Film Adaptation

The film adaptation of Margaret, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, remains faithful to the book while offering a fresh perspective.

Craig was struck by the novel’s exploration of the divine and aimed to capture the same sense of honesty and self-discovery in the film.

This commitment to authenticity extends to scenes depicting the use of sanitary pads and the infamous bust-increasing exercises.

Responsibility to Judy Blume and Her Fans

Craig feels a tremendous responsibility to Judy Blume, her fans, and those who have yet to discover her work.

With the release of both the documentary and film adaptation, a new generation of readers can experience the transformative power of Blume’s writing, while long-time fans can revisit her stories in a new light.

Craig Miller

Craig Miller

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