The first trailer for the J.D. Salinger documentary, Salinger, has just been released, and it’s rather dramatic for a documentary trailer. “He had demons.” “He said: You have ruined my life.” If Holden Caulfield were to view the clip, he would most likely scoff at the “phonies” that have dedicated years trying to invade the reclusive author’s life and question the inclusion of famous actors within the documentary that “never act like people…just think they do.” Nonetheless, J.D. Salinger’s life remains a great subject of interest, even decades after the publication of his canonical, 20th-century bildungsroman, The Catcher in the Rye.
The source of this undying interest requires little inspection; Salinger’s life was brimming with fascinating circumstances. Salinger grew up in New York City where he began showing signs of a talent for writing at a young age. In the early 1940s, Salinger was drafted into the army and was required to serve in World War II. The author was active in events such as D-Day as well as the Battle of the Bulge and took part in the “Denazification” of Germany post-war. During the war, Salinger sparked a friendship with Ernest Hemingway, who recognized Salinger’s potential, claiming he had a “helluva talent;” the up-and-coming author would go on to share his idea of a protagonist named Holden Caulfield with Hemingway. This riveting life story along with Salinger’s insurpassable ability to capture the isolation that accompanies adolescence within novels that continue to mesmerize young audiences makes clear why J.D. Salinger continues to spark our interest half a century after he began writing.
‘Salinger’ was written and directed by Shane Salerno and is backed by the Weinstein Company. Salerno, the scribe behind films such as Savages (2012, starring Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Benecio Del Toro, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), has alsodirected documentaries such as Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs. Salerno spent 8 years and $2 million on Salinger. The documentary features commentary from actors ranging from Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Edward Norton to Martin Sheen and John Cusack.
One of the main questions surrounding the documentary is whether or not it will reveal anything that die-hard fans don’t already know about the esteemed author. Unrevealed secrets or not, Salinger’s fans will most likely be satisfied by the opportunity to simply spend time with the man responsible for creating familiar figures and friends like Holden Caulfield and co.