Saturday 28 July 2012

Olympics opening ceremony - random morning-after thoughts

Even before the very start I was already a bit irritated at the late hour for which it was programmed. (Was it really because of the fireworks, or did the sponsors want it shown at a time more suitable for North American viewers?) Within minutes of its commencement I was thinking "Oh dear, this isn't working". I was aware of the general thrust of the history concept but if I wasn't sure exactly what was supposed to be going on, what was the rest of the world supposed to think?" This went on for about half an hour before I  began to be drawn in.
The consecutive set pieces seemed to be choreographed more with the stadium spectators in mind than for TV, and there was nothing wrong with that - though witness the close-in shots of individuals or groups acting in manners which looked distinctly odd, which in a 'big picture' would have made more sense.
Kenneth Branagh's turn as a Brunel-like figure badly misfired, but the forging of the rings was quite breathtaking - and a number of the other ideas were alternately quaint, humorous and intriguing. (All those Mary Poppins!)
    Mr Bean's appearance was fine - but too much of him.
James Bond was great, if inevitable - and, of course, the 'piece de resistance' of the entire evening was Her Maj participating in a spoof. Right up to its actual happening it would have been regarded as unthinkable and is, rightly, much talked about this morning. Certainly the biggest surprise of the night.
   Arctic Monkeys & Dizzee Rascal? Well, someone must be fans of theirs!
Evelyn Glennie making her much valued percussive contribution. Macca not in best voice, but look at his age - even older than I am! His attempts to get everyone singing along to the 'Na na nas' at end of 'Hey Jude' seemed to get indifferent results, though it may have sounded better in the stadium.
   The paean to the National Health Service was a brilliant piece of cheek, if quaintly idealised (as was the brief slotting in of that lesbian kiss). Can't help imagining the outraged faces, disgust and shocks of horror in some non-British commercial concerns, and overseas capitalists generally, at this 'disgraceful' and 'blatant advertisement for Socialism'. Well, tough titty to them!
     My eyes started welling up right towards the end when I saw who was comprising the team carrying the Olympic flag. Lovely choices!
     Speeches at end somewhat too long. If only they'd copied what the Queen (looking rather uninterested throughout, even a bit grumpy) was going to do, and read out from a small scrap of paper.

I eventually retired over three hours later than my usual bed-time but was glad that I'd stayed up. It was something to be experienced live.
   Full marks for imagination, for daring to show some irreverence in what has become a rather starchy, po-faced and formulaic event, albeit previously always with some jaw-dropping, though predictable, demonstrations of mass synchronicity. I liked the 'rough-round-the-edges' approach - with even some roughness at the heart!

A fine start to proceedings. Very encouraging indeed. Now let the real action begin!


  1. I'm probably a bit more upbeat about the whole thing than you - but rather than nit-pic, two additional comments:

    1. I found it desperately sad to see Mohammed Ali as he is now.

    2. The choice of several young sporting prospects to light (chosen by those who had been considered favourites as candidates for the honour themselves) was a masterstroke. In a few weeks Rogge will call on the youth of the world to assemble in Rio - we've given seven of them a head start!
    and 3) What a gorgeous, innovative, and different cauldron. A wonderful idea, beautifully executed.

    Anyway, before this turns into its own mini blog post, one last word. Boyle apparently wanted to show off the Stadium in the dark (including making best use of the pixel panels). Whilst it was shown live in Canada, NBC in the US screened it on time delay - so we weren't catering to them!

    1. Andrew, it was unforgiveable of me not to have mentioned Mohammed Ali's appearance. Although I've never been a boxing fan myself, and hence not having been a follower of his own evident sporting prowess, his appearance was without doubt the most poignant and distressing moment of the evening. It did choke me up and my heart goes out to him even now. A moment seared in the mind forever.

      Similarly, though in a different class, I had intended to put in a few words about the multi-flamed cauldron but it got overlooked. I won't 'cheat' now by slotting it in, but only say that I agree 100% with your thoughts. It was just one of many good, innovative ideas last night which worked a treat.

      I'll also accept what you say about the TV coverage to North America. Maybe I'm just getting too cynical, but thanks for putting me right.

  2. Replies
    1. No more than your own blog, John - but thanks for your visit.

  3. I felt very proud of my British roots.

    1. Yes, Dr Spo. Being proud of being British (or part British - blood-wise or not) is often a tightrope act between being genuinely pleased and trying to avoid being over-nationalistic and arrogant. But this was an event which a lot of us were nervous about beforehand and I'm pleased that our fears were unrealised. Only one far-right Conservative Member of Parliament has made himself very unpopular by calling it 'left-wing crap' and is now keeping his head low. He was particularly put out with the feature light-heartedly praising the British National Health Service as well as the appearance of the CND symbol and those who carried the Olympic flag. But everyone else, including other senior Conservative politicians, have rounded on him.
      So Dr Spo, you have good reason to be proud of your root-Britishness.

    2. I should be in England, or Canada at least. I am obviously wasted here in the States.

    3. It would be nice to agree with you but I think many of your American pals wouldn't - especially when, as it seems from over here, voices of sanity such as your own are more badly needed now than ever.

  4. Just thought I'd let you know that '5 on the fifth' returns for a one-off summer special photo challenge this Sunday!

    1. Yes, thanks Stephen. (I've actually just seen it on your own blog.)
      I'm only wondering, having a 'Summer' theme, I'll probably have to 'un-glue' myself from watching the Olympics and go outside. Suppose it'd be possible to take all 5 pics in the flat but it wouldn't be quite the same. Still, don't want to miss this chance.

  5. two words: gabby douglas!

    yep, I went and did it!

    1. Caught up with you now, A.M. - and, boy, words fail! Appropriate comments have been left in appropriate places - and they won't be the last by any means. WELCOME!!!