Oh Danny Boy, I think ye did well!

Daniel Boyle was the director and main mastermind behind last night’s Opening Ceremonies in London. I think, first and foremost, that I’m glad he didn’t try to “beat” or “top” Beijing. Because let’s be frank…somehow I don’t think the “volunteers” that worked on the show in China really had a choice. Not to mention the huge cultural differences…there was no way for London to come close to the kind of militaristic accuracy and precision that characterized the ceremony in 2008. So I’m glad that Boyle opted to do something quintessentially British.

I loved the mix of live footage and the filmed portions. And it was so obvious that Daniel Boyle is a film maker. The sequence of singing choirs all across the UK, interspersed with the live choir singing in London was fantastic.

I thought the opening sequence showing the transition of the idyllic English countryside into the smoke-stack ridden Industrial period was visually amazing. The slow disappearence of the green landscape and the rising of the gray smoke, and the iron forging. It looked like something out of Isengard in the Lord of the Rings…and fittingly so, since Tolkien was pretty obviously commenting on the distruction of nature. And just as a side note, the green mound where all the flags were planted….it’s a reference to Glastonbury Tor, which is where I’ve been taking my even walks! 🙂

I thought the queen’s entrance with Bond 007 was very clever, and I am still wondering who convinced her to play along. And well…need I say more than the two words: David Beckham. 🙂

And speaking of authors…how about the section that followed???? I loved the section dedicated to showcasing Britain’s contribution to children’s literature. The references to Mary Poppins and Harry Potter had me squealing in my seat. And the second I heard JK Rowling’s voice I had a smile stretched from ear to ear. And when the giant puppet of Captain Hook and Voldemort came up, you realize how two stories that have a profound effect on children’s imaginations, Peter Pan and Harry Potter, both came from England. There was a great emphasis on children and their role in the next generation, and I really appreciated that foreward looking theme of the whole show.

The reference to Chariots of Fire, that iconic music theme for anything melodramatic and atheletic, and Mr. Bean playing along with the London orchestra was pretty priceless. It had me in stitches. And then of course the section dedicated to Britain’s most important export….popular music! Boyle took us from the 1960s all the way through to the present day, with spectacular colors and dancing. And the acknowledgement of the digital age, by showcasing the man who created the first website, was also very much a forward-thinking feature.

I thought the Parade of Nations was pretty basic…but the commentator here kept telling us to notice the copper petal/vessel that each child was carrying in front of each flag bearer…and boy was that a great surprise in the end. The torch came via Beckham and his speedboat down the Thames and into the stadium where it was handed off from a reknowned retired British athelete, to a group of young athletes. This passing of the flame to the next generation was of course highly symbolic, and their lap around the stadium, slowly lighting it up as they went, was a great moment. Not as great though as when you finally realize what those copper petals/vessels are for. They were put on the ends of long stems in a giant sunflower-like arrangement, and when the seven (I think?) young people carried the torch and split the flame between them, they each touched a petal and the domino effect started, setting each petal alight with fire. And then the stems began to rise up and form a huge cauldron and then the fuel must have been turned up because the flames tripled in size when the finished product stood tall and proud in the middle of the stadium.

The fireworks were amazing, both on the Tower Bridge, and when they went rippling across the edges of the stadium. And then who better to round out a huge show in London, but Sir Paul McCartney! The rendition of Hey Jude, and the audience singing, (I was singing at home), was such a quintessentially British way to finish a great show. I’m pretty sure most of London was singing. YouTube videos are already cropping up of groups spontaenously breaking out into song in Tube stations, and certainly anywhere there was a TV screen showing the ceremony.

I think they did a great job. Sure…not all the choreography was spot on. People weren’t always in sync with one another. There were no stadium-floor-covering mass routines. But this isn’t China. England is much more laid back, and much more about humor than perfection. They acknowledged the volunteers who made the show possible, and even brought in the workers who helped build the stadium. That would never have happened in China. This show was about what makes Great Britain great, and what makes it a very unique place to live. And so long as people acknowledge that, then they’ll see how great this show really was.

Great job Daniel Boyle. And great job making sure that even the least visible volunteer was acknowledged for their efforts.

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