I’m not normally one who really watches the Olympics, but I really enjoyed the opening ceremony of the London games.
Not the athletes parade of course; apart from the quite inspiring presence of some of the really troubled countries like Sudan and Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, I’m sorry, but I find it a real yawnfest.
But the rest of the ceremony I thought was great. I’m sure this is a consequence of being half-English myself — and therefore perhaps immersed in British culture than most Australians — I got a lump in the throat when I saw Danny Boyle’s tributes to the UK culture.
In fact I liked it from the opening montage at the very start — with lots of little references to popular music, London landmarks, the London Underground (with a blast of The Clash), even EastEnders was in there. The imagery of England’s “green and pleasant land” along with the singing of Jerusalem took me back to singing the song in high school (and let me tell you, massed singing does something to it that is indescribable.)
I liked that it showed both the good and the bad of the development of modern Britain — the genius of Brunel, but also the pollution and upheaval of the industrial revolution; the inequality that spawned the suffragette movement; the loss of war.
The insertion of Mr Bean into Chariots Of Fire was very funny, as was the Queen’s bit with James Bond, and it was great to see Sir Tim Berners-Lee — even if the American NBC commentators didn’t know who he was, and suggested Googling him…
I had to laugh at the National Health Service tribute, having heard my sister and cousin speak of the difficulties of dealing with the NHS bureaucracy, and I wonder what conservative Americans thought of it. It was also funny to see one bed in that segment with two kids in it — hopefully not generally reflective of the state of British hospitals.
So in summary, I suppose I fall into the camp that thinks Danny Boyle is a genius.
The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?
What a plonker.
- Online video of the opening ceremony
- If you wondered how Eddie and other commentators knew all those factoids during the opening, they got them from the official media guide to the ceremony
- I found this an interesting read: an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald that suggests the lasting benefits of the Games are not that compelling, and they should have a permanent home in Greece