Saturday, 28 July 2012

Danny Boyle's Britain

I must admit I was dubious of Danny Boyle's idea of showing the UK as a green and pleasant land in the Olympic opening ceremony, but the bucolic idyll was merely a forerunner to the Industrial Revolution (above) in his potted history of Britain. Enter Wallinger swaggering around in a stovepipe hat as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and spouting Shakespeare. Huge smoking chimneys sprouted from the floor. A tree was uprooted for factory workers to emerge from their underground lair. Molten metal flowed into moulds to make fiery Olympic Rings, which rose high into the stadium. Spectacular! And who needs hundreds of Chinese drummers when you have Evelyn Glennie, the world's top virtuoso percussionist despite being profoundly deaf? Boyle's career as an Oscar-winning film director may have set a precedent in Olympic opening ceremonies. He created neat interjections, such as Daniel Craig's James Bond meeting the Queen and her corgis for a helicopter ride and Her Majesty's parachute jump into the stadium! (Skyfall is the next Bond movie.) And David Beckham's dramatic powerboat race along the Thames with the Olympic flame was worthy of another Bond action sequence (below). For those of you wondering why JK Rowling read from JM Barrie while the logo for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children was displayed, it's because Barrie bequeathed all future royalties from Peter Pan to the hospital. Skipping 1960's pop music, Mr Bean and bicycling doves that looked more like the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, we arrive at Thomas Heatherwick's brilliant design of a copper flower whose 204 flaming petals rose into the air to form an Olympic cauldron, uniting the 204 countries. Wow! Sir Paul McCartney singing Hey Dude was an anti-climax after that. CLICK for a BBC slide show.

5 Comments:

At 29/7/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very British! It was a beautiful showcase of some of the great things we have done and although it started a bit slow, it built to a great climax with the greatest Olympic cauldron of all time. The humour, whether it travelled well or not, was very funny and showed that we don't have to take ourselves seriously. They kept with the theme of the passing of the torch to the youngsters, first shown when they bid for the Games, with seven great Olympians each passing a torch to one of the seven youngsters for them to light the flame. Different, if a bit ageist as the masters looked on. They could have had it with the seven running around the track and passing the flame back to Britain's greatest ever Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave. He had to battle through adversity fighting two major illnesses and was worthy of showing the youth of the world, just how to do it. All said, it was a superb opening ceremony which was further proven when it emerged that more Americans saw it than had ever seen an opening ceremony, even their own of Atlanta in 1996; one billion around the world saw our ceremony and around twenty-seven million here.

 
At 29/7/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some called it a socialist opening ceremony what with the NHS shown, but as you said, the hospital was left a great legacy by Barrie and if Danny Boyle did have the idea to make it slightly socialist, then he craftily added the NHS into that part about Peter Pan. It was however, a superb opening ceremony. Very British and self-deprecating with the Mr. Bean sketch, showing off our humour, with the best Olympic cauldron in history; sadly it isn't visible from outside the stadium as all other ones have been.

 
At 29/7/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slow at the start but a climactic finish with the lighting of that superb Olympic cauldron. One of the most poignant parts was when the Olympic flag came into the stadium carried by one Doreen Lawrence, and seven others. They allowed it to be carried by people who, although most weren't British, had given of themselves for others; superb.

 
At 29/7/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A superb opening ceremony. The most gorgeous of all Olympic cauldrons. The most controvertial, the American television network not showing the tribute to London's innocent victims, killed on the 7th July 2005, just 24 hours after London got the Games.

 
At 29/7/12, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Look out for my next post on the US-edited dance sequence and 7/7.

 

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