Salinger (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 15-Jan-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Trailer-Parkland
Trailer-Red Obsession
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 129:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shane Salerno
Weinstein Company
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman
Edward Norton
John Cusack
Martin Sheen
Tom Wolfe
Gore Vidal
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Lorne Balfe

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


“Uncover the mystery but don't spoil the secrets!”

    The observation that Jerome David (JD) Salinger only published one novel amongst a slew of short stories in over twenty years is unremarkable - except for the fact that the novel in question was The Catcher in the Rye. With Catcher JD Salinger had written one of the most important pieces of fiction in modern literary history, and made the novel’s hero Holden Caulfield an inspiration to young people of all persuasions and generations. The enormous success that came with Catcher also brought with it a heavy weight which seemed to crush the already fragile Salinger. Turning to a semi-reclusive lifestyle Salinger battled with demons including the knowledge that he’d never be able to top Catcher or escape the fame that came from it. In this documentary Shane Salerno has brought to the screen a definitive expose of Salinger’s life, including his harrowing war years, his intellect, his ego, and finally his ultimate decline. Not to be glossed over are his faults and frailties – some exposed and some implied. Salinger is a fascinating literary figure, and fortunately Salerno has managed to capture the aura surrounding this enigmatic man.

    Born on New Year's Day in New York 1919, JD Salinger was still in secondary school when his first short stories were being written. Despite poor grades at school and university Salinger had a love for writing and eventually The New Yorker magazine became a favoured repository for his works. It was from that publication that fame came with the 1947 inclusion of Perfect Day for Bananafish. Salinger had been traumatised by his WWII experiences including the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, and Bananafish with its themes of self-absorption, depression and suicide is considered to be Salinger’s take on his own psyche. Real fame came in 1951 with publication of The Catcher in the Rye - a novel that spoke to adolescents everywhere and which made him a literary superstar. Over the next fifteen years Salinger wrote and published further short stories but became a virtual recluse, moving to rural New Hampshire and preferring the company of young people. Having been briefly married in 1945 to the mysterious Sylvia Welter, a 26-year-old German-born ophthalmologist, his subsequent marriage in 1955 to 22 year old student Claire Douglas produced two children, Matthew and Margaret (Peggy). 1965 saw the publication in the New Yorker magazine of his final released work, a short story Hapworth 16, 1924 which was not received favourably by critics. Divorced again in 1967, Salinger began a dalliance with 18 year old student Joyce Maynard, but again that romance does not last. After a period including litigation to prevent unauthorised publications of his work and an unauthorised biography Salinger married for a third time around the year 1991. Nurse Colleen O’Neill was forty years younger than the 72 year old author. In 2010 at the age of 91 Salinger died of natural causes at his home. Up until that time his health had been good although an earlier hip fracture had rendered him fragile. The Salinger legend remained strong however, and was perhaps even enhanced by his reclusive nature. Given the mystery surrounding the man his story was ripe for telling, and sensitivities for his distaste of publicity was negated with his death.

    Shane Salerno’s documentary is obviously a labour of love and designed to humanise the subject rather than just depict a set of cold facts. A notable range of famous and not so famous faces are regularly on screen to add their thoughts to the Salinger story, with either personal memories or anecdotes of how their lives were affected by Salinger and his famous book. Most of the surviving players in Salinger’s life are included and encouraged to open up on the reclusive man. This presentation is not a hagiography and his vices and foibles are explored as much as his virtues. Along with his genius Salinger was vain, egocentric, and impatient. He also had an apparent predilection with young girls – although it is stressed that this never seemed to stray into illegal activities. Although an apparent recluse in the latter half of his life, Salinger was not scared of people - he just could not be bothered with social intercourse unless it was on his terms.

    Salinger is relatively long at a little over two hours but there is enough here to satisfy even the casual viewer. Salerno has incorporated a fascinating selection of contributors and extensive archival footage into proceedings. If there might be a criticism it would be in his usage of re-enactments which I found a bit amateurish. Salerno also leaves us with a teaser that Salinger left a wealth of unpublished material that might yet be released to the public.



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Transfer Quality


     Video is presented in the theatrical aspect of 1.78:1 with 1080p high definition. As you would expect from a documentary the video quality fluctuates depending on the content source. All the interviews and re-enactments are excellent with good colour and black delineation. Everything is easy to see and clear with little grain. Archival footage is generally of good quality with even his WWII stills and video above average for that time period.


Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Default audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track track at around 2200 Kb/s. There is also a stereo Dolby Digital track at 640 Kb/s. Being a documentary with mostly talking heads there is little here to excite. Apart from within the musical score the use of surrounds and LFE are not evident. More importantly however, the dialogue is clean and clear. Synchronisation with the video is also faultless. The soundtrack itself is a bit melodramatic in an unintentionally funny way – for example the almost fanfare when the availability of unpublished material is revealed. A more subtle interpretation would have been appropriate throughout the documentary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu featured looping audio with animated background.


Movie Trailers (appearing before the main menu)

    All HD video and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 640 Kb/s. Parkland (2:26); Red Obsession (2:51).



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    At time or writing there isn’t a region A release of Salinger but I anticipate the contents will be the same apart from language options.


    Salinger is a bit long and repeats itself somewhat, but as an expose in the mysterious JD Salinger it succeeds. Salerno didn’t have a lot to work with so the use of contributors with little or no direct contact with Salinger is understandable. I came away from this review thinking that there was a lot more to Salinger than what we know. It’s a pity JD Salinger was so miserly with his thoughts, but I'm sure he would have hated this movie.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Extras are poor.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mike B (read my bio)
Friday, March 07, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 751bd, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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