July 28, 2012

The show from Danny Boy(le)

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So it's been four years since the Beijing Olympics, and we've had another edition of the opening ceremonies.  I actually got up to watch the show in its entirety, after watching the ceremonies for the first time four years ago.  I did have a few words to say about some of the elements of that show, which I hoped would not be repeated four years later by the Brits.

Let's face it, Beijing pulled out all the stops four years ago, and it's gonna be tough to top that show.  However, I don't think that was the aim of director Danny Boyle, and the results were pretty evident.  I thought it was interesting that we were taken through the different stages of how the British isles were transformed from a rural, agrarian society through the industrial movement, then onto modern day.

I can see why some of the world's audience may not "get" parts of the show.  I didn't quite get the segment about NHS and GOSH, but I guess that was a lead-in to the segment on children's literature.    There was a lot of rock 'n' roll and pop music throughout - especially during the jukebox segment - which was no doubt easier for people like myself to enjoy.

To be honest, I thought the show part of the ceremonies was a little disjointed and didn't necessarily flow that well, but nevertheless, I found myself enjoying it much more than the one I watched four years ago.  A lot of it has to do with the humorous elements, but also has to do with the messages that was being sent.

The slogan of the Games is "inspire a generation", and I'm especially glad that they took the effort to highlight people with disabilities / special interests.  It was cool for them to get Evelyn Glennie to be one of the key performers - she's a percussionist who practically lost her hearing during childhood.  God Save the Queen was performed by the Kaos Signing Choir, made up of kids with hearing disabilities.  Near the beginning of the show, children from different parts of Great Britain sang on location, and the attention wasn't being focused on a particular child singer - which I really liked.

And they really took pains to de-emphasize "the one" in favor of the group effort coming together.  I liked the fact that the passage way leading into the stadium was lined with the people who were responsible for building the London Bowl as the flame entered the stadium.  And it wasn't one single person who ended up lighting the giant Olympic cauldron, but a group of seven young athletes.

What's more, I thought the design concept of the flame itself was sheer brilliance.  I'd been noticing the vessels which were brought into the stadium with each team, and figured that it must somehow feature in the cauldron somehow.  The message here was absolutely on the mark - the Olympic spirit is made up of the individual spirits of the competitors from all 204 teams.

I think everyone will remember the segment involving 007 and the Queen.  I still find it amazing that she agreed to be part of the skit, recording the video at Buckingham Palace along with her corgis.  Even allowing for a stunt double to jump out of a chopper requires the Queen to have a real sense of humor.  That was very cool.

Outside of the ceremonies, the London Games will go down in history as the first to feature female athletes from ALL teams, after Saudi Arabia decided to field 3 female athletes.  I actually saw the three of them during the procession, and I wondered how they felt as they entered the stadium for the historic moment.

I also really liked how the organizing committee went out of their way to focus on sustainability.  Part of the building material was actually the rubble created when they knocked down old buildings to make way for the new venues.  That is very cool.  Right up my alley.

Anyway, I'm excited about the London Games, and look forward to all the things that will inspire a generation.

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