Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My thoughts on the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony

SubjectMy thoughts on the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony
DateCreated7/28/2012 7:01:00 AM
PostedDate7/27/2012 11:41:00 PM

I'm not into the whole Olympic thing at all. I've nothing against the whole idea - sport helps bring people together and that can only be a good thing. To be honest I was less than happy when London won the 2012 Olympics - I knew the poor old taxpayer (US!) was going to have to foot the bill and I thought the money could be far better spent elsewhere. I don't recall being asked if I wanted the Olympics here? And I could see London becoming a magnet for all the world's terrorists - as if it wasn't already. Still, there is nothing I can do about it and now the time has finally come.

I don't usually bother watching things like Olympic opening ceremonies on TV, but as there weren't any gigs I wanted to go to last night I decided to give this one a try. I am so glad I did! I'm not normally the most emotional of people, but more than once this brought a tear to my eye. The first parts were quite brilliantly imaginative and so well staged - very British and also rather steampunk! Danny Boyle's creation of 'England's green and pleasant land' in the middle of the stadium was quite brilliant! With a cast of thousands the tranquil rural landscape was transformed before our eyes into and industrial smoking heartland with factories and smoking chimneys. An ironworks created 5 giant Olympic rings in red hot steel and raised them onto the air - it was quite incredible!

The Queen didn't look like she was enjoying it much though - like she was enjoying it about as much as having to endure a 'Royal Variety Performance' - even Phil The Greek looked like he was having a better time.
In spite of this The Queen featured in one of the highlights of the evening: The filmed sequence with James Bond, The Queen, the helicopter and what happened next was outstanding! I think it's brilliant that she was up for taking part in something like that - how did Danny Boyle talk her into that?!!!. She even had an acting cameo - people say she has a great sense of humour in private. Although she didn't look to be enjoying the ceremony itself much, my respect for her went up enormously in the 'Bond' sequence - it brought tears of laughter to my eyes!

There was a nice tribute to the NHS, although maybe a little too close to being 'political' for some. Mary Poppins was involved in this part too - fortunately without 'lovable cokerney' Dick Van Dyke and his famous 'London' accent!
That part was also superbly staged.

Mohamed Ali's appearance was both touching and cringworthy - now a shell of a man being propped up by a carer - how aware was he of what was happening? Once one of the world's greatest sportsman, and a massively influential figure and role model for millions. It was so sad to see him in this state, but I'm sure just his presence meant a lot to many. Was it right to wheel him on like this?

The procession with all the teams went on for ages and was a bit boring - but I think it's important that everyone feels involved so you have to have that bit really. Even that had interesting moments though - some athletes so happy to be there and others apparently less so. Some teams had literally hundreds of athletes, while some had only two! Some teams (mostly the African and Caribbean ones) had wonderful colourful outfits. Our team uniform was a bit rubbish and made them look like chavs! Rather tacky I thought. Interesting watching each team carry past one of those copper 'petals' and wondering what they were going to be used for later...

The mix of music was quite good with classical (with Mr Bean in the orchestra!) to pop and rap, but very light on the rock.
I'm glad the Sex Pistols were heard (twice) but unfortunately no other punk bands. The pogo dancers were so cheesy and really made me cringe.
And where was the metal? We Brits invented this genre which had (and still has) a massive impact around the world, but the nearest we got was a moment of Led Zeppelin. I was looking forward to Macca's live performance at the end but I found his rendition of 'Hey Jude' quite an anti-climax - although I was pleased to note that like at the Jubilee bash his guitarist had an identical guitar to mine.
Like anyone cares apart from me. After seeing them at High Voltage last year I think Judas Priest would have been far better to close the show with some true 'British Steel', although Rob Halford would have to ride a Triumph on stage instead of a Harley Davidson.

I thought Beckham looked a bit smarmy 'driving' the speedboat with the torch in the final leg to the stadium, but it was spectacular part of the proceedings - and to be fair he has worked hard to win and then to promote the London games around the world so he deserved to play a part in the ceremony. The finale was when we found out what all those mysterious copper 'petals' were for. They were all placed on an array of long stalks lying on the ground and then lit with 'the' torch which David Beckham had passed to Steve Redgrave. The flame spread around all the petals in a huge circle. But where was the famous 'Cauldron' we had been waiting to see? The giant circle of copper petals on their long stalks slowly raised into the air in an arc - and all met together in the centre. The 'Cauldron' had been formed from hundreds of flaming petals all meeting together to form one huge flame. Absolutely brilliant!

I'm amazed how much I enjoyed the ceremony overall, and I think Danny Boyle did an absolutely amazing job with all the set pieces - it was truly spectacular and I will remember it for the rest of my life even though I was only watching it on TV. I was genuinely quite moved at times, and felt quite proud to be British - and that doesn't happen often these days. I still won't be watching the Olympics though! But I do wish our team the very best of British - I think we will do quite well as there are a few sports which we do seem to be good at these days like cycling, rowing, and swimming.

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