Saturday, 28 July 2012

The 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony

With his clever and audacious ceremony Danny Boyle has created a new image of Great Britain.

I'm sure we were all nervous, "Please don't let it be shit", was my over-riding thought. With the world watching I would have hated it had we embarrassed ourselves. And for the first 15 minutes I thought that was going to happen.

The rural idyll, the peasants, the farmers and the pipes. Everything seemed to be leading towards some thoughtless, lazy, typical view of Britain as a green and pleasant land populated by gurning simpletons. Although I liked the sequence which showed us Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales nevertheless I began to cringe.

But then it all started to change. The dramatic transformation from countryside to industrial landscape completed by a stunningly staged sequence of the forging of the Olympic rings, rising slowly and steadily into the sky. No CGI manipulation here, very clever. At this point I began to think we could be in for something special.

And we were. Bond. And The Queen! The completely staggering inclusion of our Monarch may have been lost on anyone not British. But it can't have been lost on us. This is The Queen! I find it hard to believe that they managed to get her involved like that. The audacity and the cheekiness of it was perfect. This was a ceremony for us Britons. I was now beginning to feel quite proud.

What followed with the sequences devoted to the NHS, our literary history, music and technology showcased a diverse range of talent and industry of which we can be proud. This is what we do and we do it well. There is much more to us than fields and farming.

The ceremony was the most inclusive I can remember. From The Queen to volunteers from the working class areas of London and the four corners of Great Britain. Top to bottom, left to right, everyone was given not just a chance to join in, but a starring role.

All this within a brand new stadium built in a previously run-down area of London. Completed on time and full of promise of better things continuing for some of the poorest boroughs of our capital.

The entrance of the athletes was underpinned with a thoughtful intelligence and set to a terrific soundtrack which seemed to fan the flames of the excitement felt by the young competitors. Accompanying athletes of each country was their flag, naturally, and an unexplained copper petal, which led to the crowning glory of a terrific ceremony.

Britain's previous gold medal winners put their egos to the side and let the next generation of hopefuls parade the flame around the stadium and then light the copper petals of a large flaming flower. The petals then rose to create one giant fire containing a flame for each competing country. What a perfect message to give. Hats of to Thomas Heatherwick for that one.

Come, all of you, to London, to Britain, and join in this celebration of sport and endeavour.

And there we have it, our new message for the World. This is Britain, and it's Great.

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