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So last night while nursing a terrible hangover I decided to order pizza, have a beer and watch the 2012 Opening Ceremony again, in full, for the first time since I watched it live early in the morning here in Sydney.

My review of the Ceremony at the time was better than most, and I ranked it second to Athens 2004 as my favourite ceremony - but after pulling back for a while and watching it again, I have to say it was deeply inconsistant. There was no real sense that there was a precise moment that the Ceremony began - but rather two quite anti climatic countdowns that didn't really lead to anything spectacular... more like half hearted attempts to build tension, that didn't really lead to anything spectacular. The Thames video montage was fantastic, but could just have been given to OBC to give to global broadcasters to put on as a start to the coverage itself. The Poster Countdown wasn't necessary, and was too fast paced for most regular Olympic viewers to even grasp the meaning. It was especially flawed as they seemed to have left out Paris 1900, Los Angeles 1984 and Atlanta 1996? Seriously? If you're given the task of doing an Olympic Games countdown, what kind of incompetence sees you leaving out some of the most important Olympic Games ever held (1984). I think the few Americans that picked up on it had every right to feel snubbed. No doubt, if the 2024 host skipped London 2012 in a similar countdown, the British press would have a field day.

Moving on from that, the green pastures and meadows were seriously beautiful, and I wish more of a segment actually took place with that set, before the entrance of Brunel and the Industrial Revolution. This is the strongest aspect of the ceremony. The transfer to the Industrial Revolution was one of the best pieces of stadium theatre, ever. Amazing. The music by underworld, it was all perfection. The Olympic rings too, were the best representation since Athens. It was this kind of power and oomph that was missing in the introduction itself.

I loved the entrance of the Queen, even though I had slight reservations about it veering closer to naff more than British humour. It is, however, after this point that the Ceremony seriously deteriorated in terms of pace, style and meaning. There was no narrative, but more a series of different snippits of "things" that could be associated with London. The NHS segment, while great in meaning and well staged, would have been more suited to a closing. The way it brushed through several icons of British literature felt arbitrary and offbeat. Britain has probably the most prolific writers in history - there was simply so much more that could have been drawn upon and expanded upon than merely slight references to Mary Poppins and Harry Potter.

Then the whole social media, internet segment. Again - closing ceremony material. Danny Boyle just didn't have his finger on the pulse in the way I thought he would have. I understand the "internet" itself was invented by a Briton - but it cannot be denied that it was US institutions that took it to the next level. This segment was so, so sloppy and didn't do British music justice. Above all, the theme of the segment was condescending and veered close to cringeworthy.

This aside, I found the lighting of the cauldron emotional, intimate and unique. I loved it. While the cauldron was smaller than what we are used to but the music, the design, the people involved - simply amazing.

While I know there is a big negative slant in this post, I just wanted to air some grievances I found with the Ceremony. Technically, it had some seriously epic features, and managed to gain a candid intimacy not seen since Sydney (Vancouver came close, but was more serious and emotional), but it was more the inconsistency that I found hard to get over.

overall, a fantastic ceremony... but I just feel with the immense weight of British culture on Boyles shoulders he didn't quite do it justice.

In terms of summer Olympics, and in the context of their cultures and time, I'd say Athens 2004 is still my favourite, followed by Beijing 2008. Sydney 2000 and 1992 would tie in at third, followed by London 2012.

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@runningsrings -- Yes, that's pretty much how I felt too. And the thing with this 2012 ceremony is that on 2nd and later viewings, its shortcomings seem to become more glaring than when seen earlier.

And again, after Happy & Glorious, the overall theme of "Isles of Wonder" just seems to have fallen out of the creative team's grasp. OK...

Green & Pleasant - cool & bucolic...but Boyle didn't let the viewer soak it in enough. Even before you took it in that this was a worthwhile undertaking (OK, not close to Athens' lake and the magical scroll/carpet of Beijing) but give the Brits kudos for trying...the whole thing is disassembled.

Between Pandemonium and Green&Pleasant, I probably would've found a way to build up G&P rather than its dismantling -- because I would have found it to be more impressive to see a natural setting assembled before my very eyes, rather than the abstract revolution which was very theatrical but somehow I felt that its whole "busy" buzz & energy was achieved by the hordes removing the G&P set rather its own 'industrial, era energy infusing itself into the scene. So, again, some sleight-of-hand there...but didn't fool me. (Am writing this at 6:00am...so part of this is insomniac ramblngs...)

OK, so that seemed to take care of England. Now we have Happy & Glorious (fine, Mother of the Kingdom comes in). And then...I'm just relying here on my memory...what's next?

The NHS sequence? Fine, a double salute to one particular British institution and abstract British literature. Still fine...but the idea of celebrating 4 nations is starting to slip away...

Next? The Chariots of Fire/Mr. Bean comedic sequence -- and as blatantly announced: In tribute to the British film industry... (have we totally lost Scot, Welsh and Northern Irish insitutions now?)

And then the hokey "Frankie & June" segment which seems like any previous variety show you've already seen...trying very hard to be very contemporary hip-hop and cutting-edge P.C. (making sure it is an interracial affair -- which in reality is about what? 2.5% of the population?) but was just one raggedy, motley mess.

Now, if a linear timeline was used, why...and sorry for sounding like I'm beating a dead horse here...but I am in the right folder now...wasn't there an outright segment on the bombing of London and the UK, and how the Brits responded. I think this would've delighted the Queen very much...and probably elicited a few moments of delight reflected on her face (rather than that sour, grim moment)...since she and her immediate family were in the thick of things, right there at the barricades of the blitzkrieg.

And one final bitch...which I still don't understand. The whole mass of 7 unknown lighters...and the mass send-off by the veterans in half-shadow and the dark green outfit of the younger Magnificent 7 in very shadowy lighting still leaves me puzzled. These are the Chosen ones who will literally light the way and the evening's highlight, and they were dressed in a very odd green? What happened to the white Relay outfits which would've stood out in the darkness. Truly such odd choices.

Was also shocked to learn that LOCOG and Boyle had bypassed the expertise and experience of London-based Jack Morton Worldwide and the proven services of Mark Fisher, also the local based production designer, who designed for Torino and Beijing. I mean the Italian and Chinese committees reached out to a far-away London designer for their ceremonies. And if Fisher seemed good enough for them, why wasn't he good enough for London? Why was he bypassed for his own hometown hoedown? I know. Boyle & Daldry wanted to go with their own designers. And what did they get? The TACKIEST outfits for the 'placard-bearers' in ceremonial history. Really sad.

What a wasted opportunity. The Brits are known worldwide for their love of pageantry, yet somehow...they let this one get away.

OK, off my soapbox and going back to sleep.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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It's been almost two months since the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I have to say that, while the Green and Pleasant and Pandemonium segments were probably some of the bests i've ever seen on an olympic ceremony, the rest was kinda a random mix of things. I don't know...maybe it's because I was already getting used to see ceremonies on which there was a nicely done narrative and on which segments were connected each other somehow by an element or various elements (The Scroll in 2008, Nikki Webster in 2000...) However this one seemed to have little if any narrative after the spectacular opening segment. This is where I now mention the Paralympic opening ceremony. Despite it's huge scientifical theme and that the set wasn't as good as the olympic one, they did a much better work than Boyle when it came to the narrative and protocol aspect, as the whole ceremony was connected with the themes of science and The Tempest (the characters of Miranda and Prospero). Also, that segment of the social network could have been done much, much better, and without having to had looked so kitsch and campy.

I wish there could had been a little tribute to the events of WWII. It would had been an emotional and tear jerking moment, although probably they wanted to avoid issues with Germany. :P As for the cauldron, I don't have too much complains, except for the fact that it became locked inside the stadium for the first time since Seoul, and provoked a considerable negative feeedback, despite the beautiful design by Heatherwick and their intentions to make a shoot out of the London 1948 cauldron (which will probably make Rio try to avoid repeating this again in 4 years)

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My problem with the London ceremony was that it didn't show who London was, or who the UK was for that matter. Many countries have rebellious teenagers, industrial revolutions, and nice farm land. Other then Mary Poppins, "story time with JK Rowling", and the UK national anthem, what was unique about London and the UK.

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My problem with the London ceremony was that it didn't show who London was, or who the UK was for that matter. Many countries have rebellious teenagers, industrial revolutions, and nice farm land. Other then Mary Poppins, "story time with JK Rowling", and the UK national anthem, what was unique about London and the UK.

That too but (1) London is well-known enuf worldwide; and which is why (2) I think they pushed it over to the Closing. There was also the speeded up fly-thru London in the intro.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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My problem with the London ceremony was that it didn't show who London was, or who the UK was for that matter. Many countries have rebellious teenagers, industrial revolutions, and nice farm land. Other then Mary Poppins, "story time with JK Rowling", and the UK national anthem, what was unique about London and the UK.

Yeah, but the Industrial Revolution is generally considered to have started in the U.K. Besides, we like it or not, many of the trends and musics which inspirated rebellious teenagers came from either U.K or America.

Besides, last time they tried to represent Middle Ages England and stuff about knights they didn't took it well (The Euro '96 opening ceremony was almost universally apalled back then). That probably made them back away from those ideas.

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My problem with the London ceremony was that it didn't show who London was, or who the UK was for that matter. Many countries have rebellious teenagers, industrial revolutions, and nice farm land. Other then Mary Poppins, "story time with JK Rowling", and the UK national anthem, what was unique about London and the UK.

Well, the industrial revolution started in Britain. That is why it is a significant piece of British history. Everything that was referenced in the OC was either unique to, begun in or particularly significant to British history or culture. I'm sorry you didn't appreciate or understand this. Maybe people around the world are not as familiar with these aspects of British history as I thought!

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I wish there could had been a little tribute to the events of WWII. It would had been an emotional and tear jerking moment, although probably they wanted to avoid issues with Germany. :P

But other posters on here have criticised the OC for iincluding things they suppose are not unique to Britain. The events of WWII eg. the blitz for example were not unique to London or even to Britain. Many other British cities suffered similarly during WWII including my own and much less so than many others in Europe and Asia.

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I understand the "internet" itself was invented by a Briton - but it cannot be denied that it was US institutions that took it to the next level.

The Briton in question is Tim Berners-Lee and he didn't invent the internet anymore than Al Gore did! :P The internet, as you point out, originated with the US military and certain other US government institutions several decades earlier. What Berners-Lee did was invent 'The Worldwide Web ' at the start of the 1990s. This is the hypertext or language in which people all round the world can access the internet for information on anything they choose, just like you and I are doing now. In its 1999 millennium issue, Time Magazine named Berners-Lee as one of the most significant people of the millennium (well, either that or the 20th century, I can't recall exactly) for this achievement. But it seems many people do not properly understand what he did or appreciate his significance to British culture and achievements. Maybe Boyle and co could have highlighted this better!

http://en.wikipedia....Tim_Berners-Lee

This aside, I found the lighting of the cauldron emotional, intimate and unique. I loved it. While the cauldron was smaller than what we are used to but the music, the design, the people involved - simply amazing.

I agree. I also found the lighting of the cauldron to be one of the best aspects of the ceremony.

overall, a fantastic ceremony... but I just feel with the immense weight of British culture on Boyles shoulders he didn't quite do it justice.

I wonder if anybody could?

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The internet started as the "arpanet" at UCLA -- the project was funded by the DOD.

As for the ceremony, I wouldn't argue that it wasn't "British" enough. I would say that Danny Boyle chose to focus on more obscure aspects of British culture and history (apart from the Industrial Revolution). He chose too many of those events and strung them together in a disorganized, confusing way. As a result, the ceremony did not make a powerful impact, but seemed diffuse and messy.

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The point about the execution is one I can see in certain respects and I'm sure that argument will go on, But if the events were too obscure for you, maybe you need to ask yourself WHY Boyle chose those events and WHY - on the whole - we in this country were pleased with the aspects and personalities of Britain he chose to highlight. I'm actually pleased he didn't go for the obvious, as much as that might've pleased some overseas who think this country is an episode of Downton Abbey.

I'm surprised at the dislike for the social media segment to be honest (well actually I'm not :rolleyes: but I'm happy to defend it). For me, the weakest segment was the NHS/children's fiction bit (the disperate themes didn't quite gel even though I was obviously aware of GOSH's connection to Peter Pan). But the social media segment was so right for London 2012, such a great counterpoint to Beijing's magnificent scroll (and I think a deliberate one at that) and so brilliantly fused with the soundtrack that it just worked. It was the only part of the ceremony completely unique to its time and to have Sir Tim Berners-Lee on stage at the end tied it all together so well. A revolution not as obviously British as the Industrial one, but with a Brit at its heart who's done as much to change the World as Brunel before him. The irony that many people who complained about his obscurity would've found out who he was within seconds using the World Wide Web is wonderful.

As amazing as it was, I think hosts to come will do bigger and better things than the Industrial Revolution segment. That's always the way with these ceremonies. Maybe, just maybe, if this ceremony is ever mentioned in any history books in the 22nd Century, it'll be the social media segment that gets referenced Who knows?

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The point about the execution is one I can see in certain respects and I'm sure that argument will go on, But if the events were too obscure for you, maybe you need to ask yourself WHY Boyle chose those events and WHY - on the whole - we in this country were pleased with the aspects and personalities of Britain he chose to highlight. I'm actually pleased he didn't go for the obvious, as much as that might've pleased some overseas who think this country is an episode of Downton Abbey.

I'm surprised at the dislike for the social media segment to be honest (well actually I'm not :rolleyes: but I'm happy to defend it). For me, the weakest segment was the NHS/children's fiction bit (the disperate themes didn't quite gel even though I was obviously aware of GOSH's connection to Peter Pan). But the social media segment was so right for London 2012, such a great counterpoint to Beijing's magnificent scroll (and I think a deliberate one at that) and so brilliantly fused with the soundtrack that it just worked. It was the only part of the ceremony completely unique to its time and to have Sir Tim Berners-Lee on stage at the end tied it all together so well. A revolution not as obviously British as the Industrial one, but with a Brit at its heart who's done as much to change the World as Brunel before him. The irony that many people who complained about his obscurity would've found out who he was within seconds using the World Wide Web is wonderful.

As amazing as it was, I think hosts to come will do bigger and better things than the Industrial Revolution segment. That's always the way with these ceremonies. Maybe, just maybe, if this ceremony is ever mentioned in any history books in the 22nd Century, it'll be the social media segment that gets referenced Who knows?

Fair enuf rebuttal, Rob.

But it's too cerebral. ;)

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The point about the execution is one I can see in certain respects and I'm sure that argument will go on, But if the events were too obscure for you, maybe you need to ask yourself WHY Boyle chose those events and WHY - on the whole - we in this country were pleased with the aspects and personalities of Britain he chose to highlight. I'm actually pleased he didn't go for the obvious, as much as that might've pleased some overseas who think this country is an episode of Downton Abbey.

I'm surprised at the dislike for the social media segment to be honest (well actually I'm not :rolleyes: but I'm happy to defend it). For me, the weakest segment was the NHS/children's fiction bit (the disperate themes didn't quite gel even though I was obviously aware of GOSH's connection to Peter Pan). But the social media segment was so right for London 2012, such a great counterpoint to Beijing's magnificent scroll (and I think a deliberate one at that) and so brilliantly fused with the soundtrack that it just worked. It was the only part of the ceremony completely unique to its time and to have Sir Tim Berners-Lee on stage at the end tied it all together so well. A revolution not as obviously British as the Industrial one, but with a Brit at its heart who's done as much to change the World as Brunel before him. The irony that many people who complained about his obscurity would've found out who he was within seconds using the World Wide Web is wonderful.

As amazing as it was, I think hosts to come will do bigger and better things than the Industrial Revolution segment. That's always the way with these ceremonies. Maybe, just maybe, if this ceremony is ever mentioned in any history books in the 22nd Century, it'll be the social media segment that gets referenced Who knows?

It seems a bit dismissive to suggest that the rest of the world views the UK as an episode of Downton Abbey.

I don't think it's amiss to suggest that kids jumping on beds and romance via text message are not what leaps to mind when one considers showcasing London's unique character and history -- yet those two segments were awarded a considerable amount of time. I'm also not suggesting that London should have focused solely on Dickens, Jane Austen, phone booths, bangers and mash, tea and Paddington Bear. I was disappointed to see no acknowledgement of Roman roots, no reference to Elizabethan splendor or achievements (apart from Branagh's oddly placed Caliban quote), no acknowledgement of the UK's impressive body of literature (the focus children's literature was misplaced in my opinion), no acknowledgement of the culture of Britain during either World War, no acknowledgement of Britain's storied Olympic history (I don't count Mr. Bean's Chariots of Fire parody).

Going back to the Caliban quote, it really is pretty ironic:

"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not...."

This was followed immediately by the pseudo-apocalyptic styling of the Industrial Revolution -- quite fearsome, loud banging and pounding (no sweet airs), devoid of delight (the focus was clearly on arduous, dehumanizing labor) and damaging (the beauty of the green isle was destroyed, the machinery of war was built, people suffered and died). And what end was all this labor serving? Apparently it was all for the the Olympic movement (!) -- as was suggested by the forging of the giant rings. It was a spectacular segment, but it was dark and totally at odds with the Shakespeare quote -- as was everything in the OC except for "Green and Pleasant."

The Industrial Revolution scene was impressive and unique. Not to take anything away from that segment, but we have seen similarly grand spectacle in other ceremonies and probably will continue to do so (as you suggested, Rob). My biggest complaint was that that whole scene relied extremely heavily on editing for television to tell a cohesive story. The international broadcast was not as well edited as it could have been. As a result, even this section was difficult to follow and seemed to drag on too long. I will never understand the inclusion of Sergeant Pepper there. Seemed totally anachronistic.

Personally, I don't see any comparison between Beijing's spectacular scroll and "Frankie and June Say Thanks Tim" (even the title of that segment conveys quite a bit about its quality). I felt the soundtrack used far too many pieces of music in snippets that were far too short. Each cut seemed haphazardly arranged. The choreography was "loose" -- to put it kindly, "sloppy" to put it unkindly. The whole "love story" was totally unaffecting and relied so heavily on film that I can't imagine it made much impact in the stadium.

Your Beijing comparison is an interesting one. I would not have expected (or wanted) London to try to imitate the sheer numbers and hyper-precision of Beijing. However, I do think that Beijing did a much better job of telling a unified story, of melding the ancient and the contemporary. They traced their roots without being confined by them. I wish London had imitated this approach more.

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So I guess we're now on the second wave of reviews of the ceremony. I've actually watched it again now (only the second ceremony I've ever re-watched after Sydney's), and I have to confess to a bit of revisionism in my opinion of it. I guess that's inevitable when you re-watch a ceremony with the sort of eye to detail and criticism we tend to bring to it. The first time watching it live it washed over me and I did find it extremely enjoyable. Looking back on my initial comments here at the time, I did indeed watch it with a smile on my face the entire time. But I also noted then that it also seemed a bit disjointed. Repeat viewing to me really made the disjointedness more glaring. I felt a bit deflated – almost wish I'd left it at the one viewing now.

It was almost to me like the highpoints and the best executed segments – Green and Pleasant and Pandemonium, with its glowing rings which to me were the biggest “wow” moment of the ceremony – came too early and a lot of it after was an anti climax. I liked the idea behind the NHS/kids-lit segment, but on playback I think that was the part that suffered most from the camera work – the Seven broadcast here, for example, seemed to focus totally on Voldemort, with only a wee glimpse of Cruella de Ville and and nothing at all of Captain Hook or the Queen of Hearts. The big baby WAS eerie – I never noticed it at all the first time.

The social media segment was the one that most disappointed me the second time. I still like the music – I thought it was a great nod and run-through of British pop culture of the generation since the last time London held the games, but in hindsight that whole theme was repeated and done much better in the closing (which I still rate the best closing ceremony ever – though I'm not going to risk watching that again and risk being disillusioned). The projections also were a bit of a let-down and didn't work as well as those used in the Jubilee Concert earlier in the year. Actually, in all my talks and discussions about the ceremony with friends and others when I was in London, it was this segment that most people seemed to have less-than-positive responses towards.

On the plus side, I still think the comedy segments were among its greatest strengths. That probably reflects personal tastes – I really get turned off by ceremonies that take themselves too solemnly and seriously – and I really have to give full marks to London for having the confidence to bring humour to the opening rather than leave it to the closing where most other hosts have put it. And I still stick by the opinion that the cauldron was the most beautiful of all time, even if the actual execution of its lighting didn't match up to magic lightings like Barcelona's (and, indulge me, Sydney's), and it was a bit of a let-down to have it confined within the stadium rather than tall and proud above the Olympic Park (though, of course, that's not strictly a ceremonial issue).

Just to respond to a few other comments on this thread.

It amuses me how there's such a disparity between people thinking it was “too” British, and others who didn't think it was British enough. I certainly had no problem understanding the British cultural references in it. I can see why some people were a bit flummoxed by nationalised medicine playing such a big role, but I can also see why that was a touchstone for Brits and thought the way it was melded with children's literature gave it a wider context anyway. And while on the literary question, I think it was represented appropriately and well – nods to Shakespeare and the legends of kids-lit in the opening, and a stage-setting made up entirely out of the great and famous quotes from British literature for the closing. Trying to do much more with that wouldn't have left scope to much more of anything, so vast is the British literary canon. Similarly British history – unless you were going to try to do a moving montage like Athens did, there's just too much of it to have done it any justice or given any satisfactory narrative of Britain's story. Anyway, it's all soooo familiar anyway – I'm glad they didn't go for cliches like Roman legionaries (what have they ever done for us anyway), Elizabethan courtiers or Regency fops. It was, to me, a representation of modern Britain and its development, which to me was appropriate and which I can see why it resonated so deeply with the Brits themselves.

At the end of the day, it's still among the ceremonies that I've enjoyed the most, at least on first viewing. But, yeah, there were some nagging niggles and less than smooth executions that came out in the repeat viewing that prevent me now being as fulsome in my praise and vigorous in its defence as I initially was.

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I'm glad they didn't go for cliches like Roman legionaries (what have they ever done for us anyway),

Monty Python aside, I think there might have been some scope for showing how the invading Romans founded London in the teeth of fierce resistance from the ancient Brits and how, at their first opportunity (Boudicca's revolt), they descended on it and burned it to the ground! It would have pointed out the irony of the fact that London, the big city now so central to British history and culture, was originally viewed as an alien artifact imposed on the British from outside and that they couldn't wait to eliminate as soon as they had the chance!

Ah well, too late now....!

:)

At the end of the day, it's still among the ceremonies that I've enjoyed the most, at least on first viewing. But, yeah, there were some nagging niggles and less than smooth executions that came out in the repeat viewing that prevent me now being as fulsome in my praise and vigorous in its defence as I initially was.

I wonder which opening ceremonies actually looked better on second viewing? ;)

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I know Baron disagrees, but Athens was better for me the second and third times I saw it. I loved it in the stadium, but picked up on much more of the artistry seeing the NBC recording the second time, And then the official Olympic recording after that. I actually gave a dinner party for some artist friends of mine and we all watched it again and talked about it. It holds up well because the content is so thoughtfully conceived.

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Monty Python aside, I think there might have been some scope for showing how the invading Romans founded London in the teeth of fierce resistance from the ancient Brits and how, at their first opportunity (Boudicca's revolt), they descended on it and burned it to the ground! It would have pointed out the irony of the fact that London, the big city now so central to British history and culture, was originally viewed as an alien artifact imposed on the British from outside and that they couldn't wait to eliminate as soon as they had the chance!

Ah well, too late now....!

:)

I wonder which opening ceremonies actually looked better on second viewing? ;)

Over the past year I've taken time to watch as much OC's from back to Moscow 1980 as I could.

Of 'recent' years, one that I've watched and enjoyed more than once were Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. Barcelona's was seriously cool and atmospheric; Atlanta was grand (I hadn't seen it in full since I was a child in 1996) and I was blown away, say what you want about the 1996 Games themselves, but the ceremonies were terrific; Sydney is a great bridge between 21st century ceremony and the pomp of the Moscow-Atlanta era, and Athens just wow wow wow every time. I get chills. Love. it. The ceremony was so good that the host country is in crushing debt 8 years later.. ;) While I'd rate Beijing as my second favourite, I concede it doesn't have much rewatch value... It's all so intense that its not really light viewing.

I can see myself watching London's again in coming years and simply watching the first 30 minutes, then skipping to the cauldron.

As for Winter, Albertville, Lillehammer, SLC and Vancouver all have rewatch value, especially the latter two. Nagano and Turin bored me then, and bored me now.

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Fair enuf rebuttal, Rob.

But it's too cerebral. ;)

Not enough "tits & teeth" for you Myles?!

It seems a bit dismissive to suggest that the rest of the world views the UK as an episode of Downton Abbey.

I don't think it's amiss to suggest that kids jumping on beds and romance via text message are not what leaps to mind when one considers showcasing London's unique character and history -- yet those two segments were awarded a considerable amount of time. I'm also not suggesting that London should have focused solely on Dickens, Jane Austen, phone booths, bangers and mash, tea and Paddington Bear. I was disappointed to see no acknowledgement of Roman roots, no reference to Elizabethan splendor or achievements (apart from Branagh's oddly placed Caliban quote), no acknowledgement of the UK's impressive body of literature (the focus children's literature was misplaced in my opinion), no acknowledgement of the culture of Britain during either World War, no acknowledgement of Britain's storied Olympic history (I don't count Mr. Bean's Chariots of Fire parody).

Going back to the Caliban quote, it really is pretty ironic:

"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not...."

This was followed immediately by the pseudo-apocalyptic styling of the Industrial Revolution -- quite fearsome, loud banging and pounding (no sweet airs), devoid of delight (the focus was clearly on arduous, dehumanizing labor) and damaging (the beauty of the green isle was destroyed, the machinery of war was built, people suffered and died). And what end was all this labor serving? Apparently it was all for the the Olympic movement (!) -- as was suggested by the forging of the giant rings. It was a spectacular segment, but it was dark and totally at odds with the Shakespeare quote -- as was everything in the OC except for "Green and Pleasant."

The Industrial Revolution scene was impressive and unique. Not to take anything away from that segment, but we have seen similarly grand spectacle in other ceremonies and probably will continue to do so (as you suggested, Rob). My biggest complaint was that that whole scene relied extremely heavily on editing for television to tell a cohesive story. The international broadcast was not as well edited as it could have been. As a result, even this section was difficult to follow and seemed to drag on too long. I will never understand the inclusion of Sergeant Pepper there. Seemed totally anachronistic.

Personally, I don't see any comparison between Beijing's spectacular scroll and "Frankie and June Say Thanks Tim" (even the title of that segment conveys quite a bit about its quality). I felt the soundtrack used far too many pieces of music in snippets that were far too short. Each cut seemed haphazardly arranged. The choreography was "loose" -- to put it kindly, "sloppy" to put it unkindly. The whole "love story" was totally unaffecting and relied so heavily on film that I can't imagine it made much impact in the stadium.

Your Beijing comparison is an interesting one. I would not have expected (or wanted) London to try to imitate the sheer numbers and hyper-precision of Beijing. However, I do think that Beijing did a much better job of telling a unified story, of melding the ancient and the contemporary. They traced their roots without being confined by them. I wish London had imitated this approach more.

Thank the lord you weren't producing it - you didn't get it - shame!

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Thank the lord you weren't producing it - you didn't get it - shame!

Well, I haven't met a single person (apart from these boards) who did "get it," so perhaps the problem is with Danny Boyle for not communicating it.

As I've said, I lived in the UK for a couple of years and have plenty of British friends. I would never call myself an expert, but I think I'm a bit more in the know than your average bear. If it left me a bit cold, it's not much wonder that most foreigners didn't "get it."

So what ever happened to Elton John? He must be the only reigning British queen not have played a part.

That was a bit of a surprise.

He's in good company though. If the Romans, Elizabeth I and her era, WWI, WWII and all Britain's literary giants (minus Shakespeare) were excluded, Elton shouldn't feel too bad....

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