Being someone who watches documentaries about every conceivable subject, I like to speculate about how much cross-over appeal a movie might have. Some documentaries strike such a universal chord, they can be embraced by a diverse array of viewers. Others may have a more specialized allure. Matthew Miele's "Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's" might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is practically essential entertainment if you follow fashion and/or if you're a shopping enthusiast. Profiling New York's legendary department store Bergdorf Goodman, this star studded affair is a veritable who's who of the fashion world. From designers to celebrity clientele, dozens upon dozens of well known personages weigh in on what has made this shopping destination such an iconic and elite spot.
It would be virtually impossible to rattle off the names of every contributor to this project, but here's a sampling of some of the bigger ones: Designers include Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, and Dolce & Gabbana. Clients include Joan Rivers, Candice Bergin, and Susan Lucci. But these are only a fraction of the subjects interviewed. The list of established, as well as up-and-coming, designers included is truly astounding. Each is committed to the notion that Bergdorf's is the absolute pinnacle of the fashion world. If your line is there, you've really made it.
Aside from these testimonials, the documentary offers a nice amount of behind-the-scenes footage. We get a historical time line as the Bergdorf's legend evolved, get to know the head buyer and taste maker of the store, meet one of the shop's most notorious personal shoppers, and spend a few months with the team readying the dazzling Christmas window display. From an artistic standpoint, watching the windows move from concept to execution is one of the film's highlights. It is really a spectacular sight.
From a technical standpoint, the movie uses an occasional narration from actor William Fichtner. Truthfully, I found this device a little awkward and unnecessary. As Fichtner's voice only chimes in sporadically, I always found it a bit jarring. However, it's a small point. The film is edited together with efficiency and moves at a brisk pace. The soundtrack adds dimension (with a shout-out to Streisand), and the feature uses a generous and diverse array of movie and TV clips that have featured the legendary establishment. Having no particular pre-existing interest in Bergdorf Goodman, I still found this to be an amusing and lighthearted entertainment. If you aren't a fashionista, you can still enjoy the movie. But if you are, you won't want to miss it! KGHarris, 8/13.