Opening Ceremony thoughts

I’ve worried openly about the chances of London putting on a good Opening Ceremony, so I guess I should post a reaction: it’s a thumbs up (phew!).

I thought the whole opening movement from bucolic hobbitshire through the Industrial Revolution to the forging of the Olympic Rings was superb: genuine spectacle and theatre. I loved the pouring of the iron sequence: you can imagine so many opening ceremonies where the commentator intones ‘and this represents the pouring of the iron from the furnace’ while dancers in orange jumpsuits run along in a line, but Danny Boyle managed to come up with a theatrical effect that genuinely looked like molten metal, without any need for interpretation.

The other stand out moment was the lighting of the flame, which was a really striking image.

In between there were inevitably a few lulls, but probably less than most of these events. There were some bits that were maybe a bit too parochial, but I guess if they play well at home and help whip up enthusiasm for the Games, that’s no bad thing.

I liked the fact that it felt quite personal and quirky: the content clearly hadn’t been handed down from on high by a government with a point to prove. And I liked that it was sometimes quite dark, as these things go: so the opening section was on one level a celebration of the Industrial Revolution, but it was harsh, grimy, smoky, and the image of the British countryside being torn apart was intentionally brutal. And when it came to celebrate children’s literature, it wasn’t Winnie the Pooh and Mrs Tiggywinkle, it was Voldemort and the Child Catcher. There can’t be many times that night terrors have featured in an opening ceremony.

Some moments of real theatre, some humour, some touching moments, very few boring or cringeworthy bits: wahey, let the Games begin.

» The photo (of the rehearsal, as it happens, not the actual ceremony), is © Hannah Webb and used under a CC by-nd licence.

2 Comments

  1. 29 July 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was great, and that was a pleasant surprise. We watched it with a (very savvy and worldly wise) German-American couple who enjoyed it well enough, but I liked that there were lots of references which only we really recognised; it felt like it was as much for the British themselves as to make a big impression on the rest of the world – though it was outwardly impressive too. And that includes a good measure of irony, darkness, self-doubt and self-questioning. My only real gripe, I think, was the anti-climax of wheeling out McCartney at the end!

    In fact I’d really quite like to see it all again, as there was a lot of detail and quickly passed stuff that I think I missed or would like to have another look at.

  2. Harry
    29 July 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Well, if you can find some technical way of fooling the BBC into thinking you are in the UK [i.e. tunnelbear or similar] you can stream the whole thing on iPlayer (that’s the version without commentary, a version with commentary also available).

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