Shortcutting… The Opening Ceremony

28 Jul

The Olympic Games are here! Finally, after four years of building momentum (or seven if you look back to when London first won the bid), it is time for all our fave athletes to be higher, faster and stronger here in Great Britain. And last night was the grand introduction, where London (or more specifically Danny Boyle) had to try and impress the whole world. Now, following in the footsteps of the Chinese and Beijing’s incredible Opening Ceremony four years ago is hardly a challenge to be taken lightly. But it is clear now that Boyle and co decided to take a different tack. Where Beijing’s motto seemed to be ‘blow them away’, London’s was more ‘be British, very British (while showing off as many of Britain’s contributions to the world as possible)’. There was a bit of spectacle, from rising chimneys to towering Voldemorts to an absolutely stunning torch cleverly made up of metal cones carried by each team (I was wondering what those were for), but on the whole the aim was more about making people smile.

The ceremony started with a short history of Britain. First, we had people dressed in old-fashioned attire playing cricket and the like (and a Shakespeare reading from Sir Kenneth Branagh), until the Industrial Revolution came and wrecked the ‘green and pleasant land’ and replaced it with a rather more sooty, metal atmosphere. Then there was a little war memorial bit too, which felt slightly odd but fair enough.

After Pandemonium – the scary, industrial section – came a brilliant clip of James Bond (i.e. Daniel Craig) meeting the Queen, which culminated in them both supposedly jumping out of a helicopter and parachuting into the Olympic Stadium. Fantastic. Fan. Tastic. I absolutely bow down (or curtsey?) to the Queen for being game for this, and it was my favourite bit of the ceremony. Only in Britain.

Next up, we payed tribute to the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the NHS, which involved dancing children and nurses and lighting up beds and things, and then references to children’s literature, where a reign of terror from Voldy, Cruella de Vil and Captain Hook was ended by a flock of Mary Poppins figures saving the day.

Then came a performance of Chariots of Fire, with talented musician Rowan Atkinson (a.k.a. Mr. Bean) at hand to ensure things didn’t get too serious. This too made me laugh, although somehow a known comedian being funny can never be as hilarious as a known monarch being funny.

Then we gave thanks to Tim Berners Lee (yes, just to remind you, we invented the Internet – beat that!), in a slightly weird form involving a love story of sorts between ‘Frankie’ and ‘June’, and we were shown a montage of some of the best British t.v. shows and songs accompanied by some kick-ass dancing. And Tim himself was there too, a proud symbol of his (slightly cheesy) motto – this is for everyone.

Next up, Emeli Sande gave us a rendition of Abide With Me, accompanied by some low-key dancing, which, my programme tells me, was choreographed and principally performed by one Akram Khan. This was nice, although bloody hell that song’s long!

Then it was time for the athletes welcome. Who knew there were so many friggin’ countries, eh? A special award goes to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for having the longest name (I think), which took up three lines on the sign. I must admit I didn’t recognize that many athletes, but one really good thing this year was that every country has female athletes, which is a massive step forward in terms of gender equality.

This post is getting a bit long so I’m going to summarize the rest: basically, there was a bit more cool stuff, Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge gave speeches, and then finally the Olympic torch reached the park. The identity of the mystery torch-bearer was… drum roll please… the future generation of sport, in the form of seven young athletes, as nominated by some of our renowned veterans. No doubt their names will become famous soon enough, but for now all I can say that might mean anything to you is that having been driven by speedboat by David Beckham to the stadium, Steven Redgrave, rower extraordinaire, ran the torch into the stadium. As I’ve already mentioned, the torch was awesome. If you didn’t watch the ceremony, look it up. It’s kinda like a bunch of long-stemmed tulips on fire, but that definition doesn’t do it justice.

And finally, Sir Paul McCartney gave us a rendition of Hey Jude which had everyone nah nah nah nah-nah-nah nahing very emotionally.

So there you go. Good job Danny boy, good job.

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

P.S. Just to warn you, I’m a lil bit obsessed with the Olympics so it’ll probably be coming up in a few more posts…

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2 Responses to “Shortcutting… The Opening Ceremony”

  1. mamagirlsaysitall July 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I am also obsessed with the Olympics and loved your post. I watched, and loved, every minute of the Opening Ceremonies! Our good announcers kept us Americans up-to-date on what everything meant, and it was simply stunning. Good job, Britain.

    • shortcutting July 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Brilliant, great to hear I’m not the only one! That’s good, British sometimes needs translating into normal…

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