Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Opening Ceremony : A Personal Review

Well I'm pleased to say Danny Boyle can hold his head up high.

It was a brilliant opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympics and London should consider itself proud...but I'm so glad a Northerner made it happen for them! Haha

Highlights; well the first hour alone was just brilliant. Truly awesome and innovative visions and design. The depiction of The Industrial Revolution, the green and pleasant land creating towering chimneys before our very eyes was jaw droppingly beautiful and to have Kenneth Branagh surveying the scene as a The Tempest reciting Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the cherry on the cake.

Things went decidedly prog thereafter too, as an NHS and Peter Pan/children's fairytale theme with hundreds of (real life) Great Ormond Street nurses and children was accompanied by the great Mike Oldfield centre stage performing a medley of Tubular Bells and Il Dulce Jubilo before a Pink Floyd The Wall style giant buffeting puppet of Voldermort arrived on the scene

Then there were laughs, provided by Daniel Craig's James Bond as he escorted The Queen, his latest Bong Girl!, to Stepney from the Palace via helicopter and then spectacularly out of the copter via parachute! Hilarious!

The laughs continued with Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean appearing in the orchestra for a rendition of Vangelis's Chariots of Fire by Sir Simon Rattle and The LSO

This was followed by a celebration of British music from the 60s onwards and the digital age, as Boyle told the tale through song and dance of a young couple falling in love on a night out. The music was first rate, the performers clearly very talented, but this still fell a bit flat for me, as essentially we were just watching recorded music and people dancing to it. It didn't have the vibrancy and vitality of the previous stunts. Still it showed Boyle's canny eye for the visual as he dropped several film and TV references into the scenes with clips and snippets of things ranging from Gregory's Girl, Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Matter Of Life and Death, the infamous 1987 weather forecast by Michael Fish, his own Trainspotting and a brief sound of Doctor Who's Tardis!

Then came the arrival of the athletes and, man that takes a long time! I was fairly convinced they were just making up countries, islands and principalities before the end! For someone less interested in sport and more interested in the Cultural Olympiad such as I, it dragged. But it's hard not to feel so happy for the grinning happy to be there hopefuls eager to represent themselves to the fullest and do their nation proud.

Then came more visual spectacle, accompanied by The Arctic Monkeys as the house band (thank God it wasn't Muse, whose absence whilst thankful was odd -they're the official band with their God awful anthem to the Games, I did expect them to appear) Alex Turner looked rather like a Hamburg era Lennon with his leather jacket and well oiled quiff and the band provided their own hit I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor before a great rendition of The Beatles Come Together.

David Beckham fresh from a motorboat handed the torch to Sir Steven Redgrave who ran into the arena to pass it to the next generation of sponsored young athletes (I still think Daley Thompson should have been the torch holder, not Redgrave) before the torch was lit...and beautifully so too; a laid out set of copper petals ignited and slowly rose to produce one giant cauldron.

I hate saying this, but did we have to have the great Mohammed Ali there? It's just so tragic to see how ill and infirm he is now. I had tears in my eyes. I want to remember him how he was, not as a shaking old man, unsure of where he is, being told severeal times over to wave and being unable to do so. That really put a pall on the proceedings for me. As did Paul McCartney closing the ceremony with a decidedly off key rendition of Hey Jude Hate to say it Paul, but your are past it! You cannot sing any more and I really hate how since 1985's Live Aid it seems to be in his contract that he closes every event of note. There comes a time when people have to retire, and Macca's time is long overdue. Like Ali, I want to remember you how you were, not a pale and embarrassing tragic shadow of that person.

All in all though, it was a great night!

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