It's about time Hollywood give Busby Berkeley his due.
There is no one working in modern film who uses mainstream movie language in such surreal and beautiful ways, and even when he was at the height of his popularity, there was no one quite like Berkeley. As both director and choreographer, he created these explosive, amazing visuals, most often distinguished by the overhead shots he'd do of an entire soundstage floor full of dancers moving in these elaborate patterns.
As much as I love Berkeley's movie work, I don't know much about him as a person. Ryan Gosling must think there's enough meat there for a movie, though, because he's signed on to co-produce a film based on “Buzz: The Life And Art Of Busby Berkeley.” Marc Platt will be co-producing with Gosling, and it appears they're in the very early stages of things, with no writer attached yet.
Berkeley's work was never about awards or acclaim, but instead was aimed squarely at the Depression-era audiences who were being hammered by World Wars and financial oppression. He made movies that were designed to transport people, and they were brimming over with joy.
Gosling may well end up directing the film. He's just finished his first movie as a director, “How To Catch A Monster,” and if he's got the bug, then this sounds like the sort of project that would give a director a lot of room to create something visually spectacular. Wouldn't it be amazing if Gosling could convince Nicolas Winding Refn to direct the film? Can you imagine someone with the pure emotional palette of Refn re-creating the visual decadence of a Busby Berkeley film?
While the film will obviously deal with the golden age of the Hollywood musical, there's no word yet on whether or not this will also be a musical. It almost seems like it would have to be, but in a very unconventional way.
However it comes together, I hope this leads new viewers to check out the spectacular body of work that Berkeley created.
In the meantime, Gosling will next be seen in the still-untitled Terrence Malick film set for release later this year.