Thumbs Up Worldwide for Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremonies
OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONIES (NBC/JULY 27, 2012) ”A complete assault on the senses.” That’s how Britain’s Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, described Oscar award winning director Danny Boyle‘s wild and crazy tribute to the British Isles and its history. Presented in classic over-the-top form last night in London, Boyle offered a brilliant combination of live action, giant sets along with creative film and digital pieces, all to loud drumming and constant motion. It’s his signature style in films—frenetic, hand-held action with loads of cross-cutting—but how shocking that he could bring that style so successfully to an Olympics opening! Kudos are pouring in. My favorite bits were the following–with YouTube links wherever possible:
• The clip of the real Queen Elizabeth escorted by James Bond/Daniel Craig to a waiting helicopter and parachuting in for the games (of note, she allowed two of her precious Corgies to be featured in the scene!). My British friends say this was their favorite part of the ceremony and the world seems to agree whole-heartedly. Watch the YouTube of it here.
• Rowan Atkinson in a bravura single finger piano performance with the London Symphony Orchestra playing “Chariots of Fire” and then more hilariously appearing in the famous running on the beach scene from the film with disastrous results for the runners! Catch the YouTube here.
• That fantastic fireworks display marking the end of the Opening Ceremonies (well, almost the end…we did still have Paul McCartney on tap afterwards, mind you, with his rendition of “Hey Jude” providing everyone a giant sing-along).
• The brilliant “Lord of the Rings” style transformation of the “green and peaceful” early England into the dark and smelly industrialized nation it became, while the announcers reminded us that Britain indeed brought the industrial revolution to the world. Of note, we were also told that the stadium was filled with “bad sulphur smells” during this sequence—wow!
• The forging of the first Olympic ring (joined by the other four) during that very same industrialized sequence. Gorgeous.
• The various children’s choirs, including those in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and especially those singing for the blind and hearing impaired. So touching. And a special shout-out to the young soloist who sang “Jerusalem.” Moving.
Least favorite bits:
• The lengthy (20 minute!) tribute to the National Health Service using rolling hospital beds which were trampolines and featuring dancing nurses, followed by the introduction of famous “villains” including a 100 foot tall Voldemort.
• The similarly lengthy mobile-phone/instant messaging/twitter inspired love story with its tribute to rock music over four decades—this seemed to go on forever.
Worst part–by far:
• NBC’s constant interruptions to “cut to commercials,” particularly irritating as we were watching the torch FINALLY entering the stadium.
On the whole: a wonderful show which reminded us of all of Britain’s various contributions to the world and of their unique blend of humor and pageantry. Congratulations to Danny Boyle and the legion of individuals behind this spectacle. Now…on to the games themselves!