"all I can say is that I am as much in awe of Zhang Yimou's craftsmanship as ever. This was the best stadium-based opening/closing ceremony ever, and it should be the last because no one is ever going to have a hope of topping it."
All I can say is that I am as much in awe of Danny Boyle's craftsmanship as ever. This was the best stadium-based opening/closing ceremony ever, and it should be the last because no one is ever going to have a hope of topping it.
Seriously. The London Olympic opening ceremony was a huge, audacious masterpiece. I really truly cannot imagine how they could, or should, top this at Rio in four years time.
Opening ceremonies are irrelevant to sport, they are absurdly expensive and, as I put it eloquently for Athens 2004, they are a wank. But for the outrageous cost - 27 million pounds - Boyle delivered terrific value for money. I've enjoyed this one more than any other that I've seen in the past, and it capped off with a beautiful, understated and highly appropriate lighting of the Olympic flame.
A few highlights?
- The musical tribute to the National Health Scheme.
- Her Majesty's co-starring role as herself with Daniel Craig as James Bond, though sadly she was replaced by a stunt double for the helicopter/parachute scenes
- The Industrial Revolution, and Kenneth Branagh as Brunel in a role more dignified than the TV cop show we see on the ABC on Sunday nights
- An awesome soundtrack covering more than half a century of British popular music (I'll post a playlist of my ten favourites separately)
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Lowlights? The most jarring was Sir Paul Macartney's rusty off-key and typically self-indulgent performance at the end of the evening. It was an anticlimax after the lighting of the flame had been beautifully underscored by the closing bars of Pink Floyd's "Eclipse". Why do we need to re-live "Hey Jude" when it is so clearly laid out in this infographic?
So many live blogs of the Opening Ceremony online, allow me to be a traditionalist and link to The Guardian's.
But just as in 2008 NBC put the opening ceremony on tape delay, in 2012 they did it again. There appear to have been business reasons for doing so - more ad revenue with a first screening in prime time rather than live at 4PM (1PM Pacific) - and early reports are that the ratings in the US were up 7% from the Beijing opening. But, according to an NBC operative quoted by the Los Angeles Times:
""It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them."
- source. LA Times Showtracker blog
For all the parallels between the 2008 opening ceremony and 2012's, at least we didn't have a war break out as we did between Russia and Georgia four years ago. But we did have police arrests of a "Critical Mass" cycle ride in the streets of London while the opening ceremony was in progress. This news report from Russia Today is my #London2012 Youtube do Dia: