Luca Guadagnino’s Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is a
fascinating documentary about famed Italian shoemaker
Salvatore Ferragamo, whose clientele included the who’s
who of Hollywood.  Narrated by Michael Stuhlbarg from
Ferragamo’s 1955 memoir, the film tracks his life from humble
beginnings to California to a storied studio in Florence, Italy.

Growing up poor in remote Bonito, Italy, Ferragamo was only a
boy when he began his trade at the village cobbler shop.  At 16, he
immigrated to America, where he helped glamorize Hollywood’s
silent era by creating shoes for iconic films like Sadie Thompson
(Gloria Swanson’s “bad girl” shoes) or The Thief of Bagdad (Douglas
Fairbanks’ fantasy footwear)Overcoming a Depression-era setback
after opening a workshop in Florence, Ferragamo rebounded to define
mid-century elegance for stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe,
Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman — all while embarking
on a warm family life with his wife Wanda and their six children.

The film includes a trove of 100-year-old archival footage, as well as
commentary from filmmaker Martin Scorsese, shoe designer Manolo
Blahnik, Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, Deadlinefilm
critic Todd McCarthy, the now late Wanda, and the couple’s children and
grandchildren.  It’s also filled with trivia.  Did you know that Ferragamo
studied anatomy to understand feet?  Or that he filed thousands of patents?

Since director Luca Guadagnino is known for his films with visual style
(Call Me by Your Name), it’s no surprise that the camera goes close-up
on Ferragamo’s luscious creations – the rainbow wedge, the “invisible”
shoe, the cork heels, the metal stilettos.  The film ends with a stunning
Busby Berkeley-esque “shoe ballet” created by stop-motion artist PES.

The script is by Dana Thomas.

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