29 July 2012

My Thoughts on the Olympic Opening Ceremony

Now anyone who knows me knows that I do not care about sport of any kind at all and to that extent I have not really been that fused over the London 2012 Olympics. Granted, being British, I understand the pride we feel over us getting the Olympics but I've never felt that way. However, when I found out that Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire was doing the Opening Ceremony, my hopes were raised that the ceremony would be good, and it did not disappoint. This was a brilliant Opening Ceremony.
Now in this post I will only be talking about the Ceremony up until the Athletes Parade started as well I didn't really watch that bit, all the stuff I was interested in happened before the Parade started.

Firstly, this Ceremony was quintessentially British, ranging from the set design changing from the green fields of places like the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands to powerful Victorian industry reminiscent of cities like Manchester which shows just how powerful Britain became during the Victorian period. This trend of Britishness continued through there being a speech from a Shakespeare play included in the ceremony delivered by, who else. Sir Kenneth Branagh dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel (to those who are unfamiliar with Branagh's work with Shakespeare, check out the Brows Held High episode on Branagh's Shakespeare films here). There was also a few really beautiful moments involving children's choirs, from choirs from each off the nations of Britain singing a song associated to the country to a choir including some deaf children singing God Save the Queen. The most powerful moment for me though was the memorial to those who died since London got the Olympics, in particular the victims of the 7/7 Bombings, it was just a powerful moment and it felt right that this was included in the show (shame on NBC for cutting this bit out of their broadcast).

Not only does the Ceremony show just how beautiful Britain is, it also shows just how batshit insane Britian can be with the segment honouring the NHS (which I guess Mitt Romney absolutely hated) and children's literature (kicked off with JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan, the sales of each copy providing funding for Great Ormond Street Hospital, the most respected children's hospital in the world) being the centrepiece of this insanity. From a start with skating doctors and nurses and children in trampoline beds, it goes onto children being terrorised by villains such as Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil, the Child Catcher and Voldemort before they get defeated by an army of Mary Poppinses while music from The Exorcist plays in the background. It makes absolutely zero sense but that's what makes this bit so entertaining to watch. You are constantly trying to guess what bit of insanity will come up next and this part is easily the most entertaining bit of the ceremony.

While the previous bit was the most entertaining there were some segments that were laugh out loud hilarious with two coming to mind, one being the bit with James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) and the Queen (good on her for doing this) going by helicopter to the games, parachuting down and then magically changing into two stuntmen before the Queen comes out on stage. This bit is hilariously mad just for the sight of Daniel Craig and the Queen walking through Buckingham Palace. The second bit is a tribute to British cinema with a performance of the Chariots of Fire theme, with Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean persona playing the keyboard and all the stuff he does, from playing with his phone to sneezing on the keyboard and having to use an umbrella so he can get a tissue, to my personal favourite part of the show, a recreation of the famous beach scene from Chariots of Fire with Mr Bean cheating to make sure he wins (using a taxi to get to the finish line early and then tripping up the main character). This bit is hilarious, mainly due to Atkinson's facial expressions saying more than words ever could and the fact that we can really see this bit being in character with Mr Bean with this being a great tribute to both British film and British comedy.

There was one bit I didn't like though and that was a section in the tribute to British music, don't get me wrong, I loved most of it, the music choices were excellent, the films clips that went alongside them were perfectly done somehow having a clip from The Man Who Fell to Earth be followed by a clip from Wayne's World and for it to make sense and I really appreciate the tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, without which you wouldn't be reading this blog, there is one bit in this segment I didn't like and that was when Dizzee Rascal came out to sing his song, Bonkers, and I cannot stand that song, for me it is one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard and I was so annoyed watching that bit due to the song.

Overall though, this ceremony was fantastic, it was unique and incredibly British and the Olympic Committee made the perfect choice in hiring Danny Boyle to direct it, even if you are not interested in the Olympics this is still incredible and is probably the best thing that will happen related to the Olympics, until Boris Johnson comes out and invents new words at the Closing Ceremony.

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