Posted by: stelladuffy | July 28, 2012

Olympic Opening Ceremony

Quickly, because I have to rush off to tech Murder, Marple and Me, but ooh, last night …

Loved the opening ceremony, loved the political stuff, suffragettes, NHS, CND, Windrush, lezzkiss!, so many roles for women (film/tv/theatre writers take note), AND it looked great. Loved Shami Chakrabarti and Doreen Lawrence (the others too, but they were great surprises). LOVED that there were jokes, that there were staff and patients from Great Ormond Street, laughed out loud at #stuntqueen.

Oh and Evelyn Glennie, so powerful, so fierce, so brilliant.

Loved that it was about inclusivity, that it wasn’t uniform, that it was human and a little messy (while also being very pretty), that the children and the adults were all different sizes, races, ethnicities, ages.

Loved the handing over from age to youth.

Above all, I loved that it was about people. About the green and pleasant being broken by the industrial, about the people even within that (the actions of breaking it, that it was moved from one form to another by PEOPLE, not technology), that in bringing up the industrial revolution it acknowledged the bad as well as the good – the enclosures, the damage to countryside and people, the sins of the Empire as well as the good.
LOVED that unlike any other country I can think of, Britain is really awfully good at saying there are crap things here (and in our past) as well as great. Loved the pride without hubris.
To me it looked like an honouring of the arts, handing over to sports.
And we got to see the fireworks live from our friends’ great-view bathroom window.
All good. Now to enjoy the competition.

edited to add : and STORY!!! there was so much Story!
Also, narrative-worriers, take the opening ceremony as a great note : have an idea, show/tell a bunch of scenes that illustrate it (nb – telling’s fine when it’s told well, the Greeks were great at it, see the scene where the messenger TELLS of Medea killing her boys), then let the audience tie it up. They can, we can, it works.

edited again to add : I gather Paulette Randall was the asst director, and that pleases me enormously, as well as making a great deal of sense.

Which bit did you like best?


  1. Stella, hard to pick a single part out of that wonderful night, but I’m going to go for the NHS and Great Ormond Street. We’re right to be proud of it – and we’re right to protect it.

  2. indeed!!

  3. My favourite aspect was simply that everything about the production – the choreography, the music, the segues between sections, the delivery, all of it – came right out of the values and style of British theatre. It showed off the arts to their best.

  4. The Queen having the bottle and humour to do that and make it funny; but though I loved the rest of it, the absolute top bit was Doreen Lawrence and Shami Chakrabati, and Mohammed Ali being there though he clearly couldn’t even stand; and letting the kids light the torch. And the looks on the volunteers faces. The torch was just gorgeous.

  5. Totally agree with all of the above. It was very moving, inclusive, bold. But overall that magnificence could not have been achieved with out Art, and this was a sublime bringing together of Art and Sport.

  6. It was the first time I noticed the participation of the Independent Olympic Athletes, I would love to see mass defections from national teams to that team.

    Seeing Tim Berners Lee there with an old NextStep computer gave me chills.

    Visually, I loved the bird bikes but found it deeply ironic that outside the stadium Critical Mass were being arrested en masse and being let out on condition that they don’t cycle in Newham for the duration of the games.

    The opening section with the transformation from bucolic to industrialization and the forging of the rings of fire was pretty spectacular. As was the cauldron assembly.

    So, in summary, still feeling entirely conflicted about the games.

  7. Conditions to be found here:

  8. I agree with all that you’ve said – it was absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t have imagined that it would be that moving and inspiring. I feel so patriotic! The only thing that I felt was weak was Paul McCartney, who really can’t sing any more. Lulu and the Jools Holland band would have been a much better choice!

  9. I agree I loved all of it! Even though where I live in Greenwich it’s chaotic including lots of armed police – which takes some getting used to!

  10. Watched it in France and what stood out from here is your (i.e The Brits) ability to make fun of yourselves (obvs not a talent of ours) & to make a brilliant show without being too serious/pompous. Makes me feel happy/lucky to live in London.

  11. Yes Carine, that’s what I felt too. And yes, much London love!

  12. I loved the contrast of big spectacle (the chimneys rising, the rings forging, the pixels in the crowd, giant Snape puppet) with the human scale action. The people and their individuality never seemed entirely lost. And to highlight literature, music and film in a ceremony for sport was wonderful. Also loved the humour, a very British inclusion (I think everyone loves the Queen just a little bit more – we really wanted to see a picture of Danny Boyle’s face when he was told she’d agreed to it), and the cauldron was such a thing of beauty that it was obvious we have some incredibly talented people making beautiful things/works of art. It was honest. The more I think of it, the more I like it – a chaotic, funny, beautiful, moving thing. I am carried away…

    Though actually we could have done without Paul McCartney.

    Like you, we were watching the fireworks from a bathroom window. Nothing quite like that rolling rumble from a distance eh?

  13. I loved it! I didn’t think I would even bother watching it after all the “Lookatmeeeeee” and “aren’t we the acest” of the last couple of Opening Ceremonies and I suppose I was expecting a whole lot of marching and men in kilts and the lik, but the kids wanted to watch it particularly after their being rumours of a Voldemort v Mary Poppins death match (Mary Poppins would so win that battle). Loved the British sense of humour and their pisstaking ability (I’m Australian – we take ourselves WAY too seriously most of the time) and the music – loads of musical memories for me, and an excellent introduction for the kids.

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