I watched the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics last night, along with millions of others from around the world. I wondered how the event might compare with the Beijing ceremony of 2008. Directed by Danny Boyle, the production began with a different pace.
The cinematic sequence following the Thames rushed through my brain like a rollercoaster. I must admit that I was thankful I wasn’t watching in 3D. It was quick and beautiful, and my stomach needed the commercial break to recover.
Next began the theatrical segment. The magnificent bell rang, and Kenneth Branagh took his place. I enjoyed the idea of the pastoral play. The industrial revolution was visually impressive, but the turn-of-the-century hip-hop moves came across as cheesy when the cameras zoomed. Another commercial break.
I didn’t love the children’s nightmare or the teenage love story. A few years ago I saw The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. I preferred the Vegas show.
But then something happened. Bond (Daniel Craig) appeared, and escorted Her Royal Highness to the ceremony, complete with skydiving from a heli. That’s the kick this show needed. Next up was the Chariots of Fire sequence starring Rowan Atkinson as the keyboardist and daydreamer. Nobody pulls of a snotty sneer/ eye-roll combination like Atkinson. Tens across the board.
I loved the parade of athletes. I know there was all kind of controversy about the USA uniforms, but I couldn’t even focus on that because of the little ladies in the “people-face” dresses that carried the countries’ names on the frames over their heads. That whole concept cracked me up. As I watched the delegations from around the world enter and take their places, I waited for the copper “petals” that were carried in by children to be assembled into some kind of flower. I knew whatever it was; it must be wonderful, because they weren’t showing it right away.
Just then the torch arrived, and a group of children shared the task of running the flame around the stadium. They lit the flower, and then the petals rose into a beautiful cauldron. I oohed and ahhed. It was lovely.
After the show ended, I saw the brief interview with Danny Boyle. The reporter asked how it was to direct the Queen. “It was all tickety-boo!” he said.
What? I had to do some research. Turns out that tickety-boo means that everything is fine, or just as it should be. I think I have a new favorite expression.
While the London ceremonies didn’t have the robotic precision of the Chinese kick-off, it did have the angelic voices of the children of the UK. It did have some fun music. AND it had something that China didn’t have—humor. For me, laughter goes a long way.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.