A new documentary tracking the life of J. D. Salinger reveals a man who seemingly hated the attention his novels brought him.
A documentary addressing the life of famed late poet, J. D. Salinger, entitled Salinger has been released in the US. The feature-length, Shane Salerno-directed piece depicts the author's life through interviews, clips, photographs and his novels and also addresses the reasons why Salinger effectively went into hiding.
Salinger: Dissecting The Life Of The Author You May Know Little About.
Jerome David Salinger, AKA Jerry, found unbridled success with his 1951 story of adolescence, The Catcher In The Rye as well as 1961's Franny and Zooey. However, he chose not to publish any more work after 1965 and led an embattled life as he struggled with the publicity his novels garnered, perpetuated further by his notoriously prickly disposition and dislike of attention.
Upon his death in 2010, Salinger was famous for not wanting to be famous and, of course, that 1951 novel that still manages to chime with the young and jaded of today, regardless as having been cited in more than one murder case (most notably that of John Lennon's assassin) as a source of inspiration. Salerno's documentary gives audiences a glimpse of the life of Salinger they may not have been aware of, including his WW2 concentration camp experiences that had a darkening effect upon his psyche for the rest of his life.
Salinger also gives a flavour of the author's distaste for the media, particularly his reaction of horror and rage when ambushed by the press. J. D. fought against any attempts to piece together a biography of his life, including memoirs by his daughter Margaret and former lover Joyce Maynard, as well as several biographical investigations by various news agencies. The Salinger trailer shows an intriguing scene where a photojournalist lurks in a car outside a post office for Salinger to arrive after a tip-off. Sure enough, despite efforts to collect his post hastily, Salinger is snapped, showing just how elusive he truly was.
Salinger's Wartime Experiences Shaped His Life And Writing.
Though information about the writer leaked through over time, it still took director Shane Salerno (Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs) nine years to compile enough information, interviews and fleshed-out biography to make this compelling feature film that also publicising the enticing news that there will be a mass of unseen Salinger works published between 2015 and 2020, including a novel, an account of Salinger's wartime experiences and an "expanded body of fiction concerning Holden Caulfield."
Since its Toronto Film Festival debut and subsequent limited release, Salinger has earned middling reviews. The Telegraph's Christopher Tayler criticised how "non-Salingerian" Salinger-nut Salerno's film is in its "Hollywood-inflected" production. It's clear that the story they want to tell has been shaped as much by dramatic[...]as it has by a feeling for Salinger's life."
More Salinger Work Is Expected On Release, Including An Account Of His Wartime Experiences.
Similarly, The Guardian's Tom Shone grapples with how movie-ready Salinger's life is painted to be. "This is very much Salinger in the eyes of Hollywood, with lots of ambition, demons, plushly exaggerated love interest, a portentous score," says Shone whilst also deriding the "talking heads" aspect of modern film personalities such as Judd Apatow, Martin Sheen, Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Edward Norton being wheeled out to gush about the timeless impact of Catcher in the Rye.
The LA Times' Kenneth Turan takes issue with how Salinger is portrayed as a recluse, but argues that his devotion for his work forced him to seek seclusion. "He wasn't really a recluse," Turan said. "He just really wanted to pick and choose the moments when he would see people."
After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival on 5th September, Salinger has now been released in the USA.
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