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I know four Spaniards who all loved the Opening Ceremony.

So let's add them to the list of (apparently insane) foreigners who liked the show!

Of course they're not insane. As I said, Im not putting down any particular opinion. I'm saying that in my experience British people seemed to enjoy the show far more than internationals. Four happy Spaniards doesn't really address the idea that for the most part the show didn't resonate very well internationally.

I know an Italian, a couple South Africans, a Japanese person and two people in China who didn't care for the show. So what? It's not hard data. It proves nothing. Hence the oft repeated phrase, "in my experience..." I genuinely haven't met a non-Brit who really liked the OC -- not apart from these forums anyway.

is there a survey or poll to prove this statement. or is it more a IMHO statement based on a circle of friends and a few people here

I think you'll see that in almost every post I write "in my experience..."

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@Athensfan: "I suspect that stronger emotional identification enabled Brits to internally construct for themselves a sort of through-line connecting the various segments of the ceremony and making a kind of sense out of them."

There's probably a fair amount of truth in that- but to a large extent, international viewers should have been helped by their TV commentators, using the Media Guide. Notoriously, NBC, despite its time-delayed broadcast, utterly failed to provide that context: Isambard Kingdom Brunel identified as Kenneth Branagh; Chelsea Pensioners, Pearly Kings & Queens etc. not identified at all; commentary over the stadium announcements about the National Health Service and Great Ormond Street Hospital, so that Americans missed the very simple clue about those initials which appeared in lights on the arena floor, and so on. If other broadcasters were similarly horrible, then of course there would be problems.


@Athensfan: "Random thought: I was surprised by the presence of a segment on children's lit (particularly at the expense of the world's best known adult literary canon). But it was even more surprising that they skipped the work of some of the best and most beloved authors: Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis... Just very odd choices all the way around."

Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts was in! If my theory about the overall theme of the London Opening (as opposed to the London Opening Cultural Presentation) is correct, this segment had to be about childhood, just as the next major segment ("Frankie and June") had to be about adolescence. However, I suspect that there may have been more hints of the adult literary canon in the cultural presentation than we realise. We know Milton inspired "Pandemonium" but historian Simon Schama has suggested that Dennis Potter is also lurking in the background, most obviously in the dancing doctors and nurses (from "The Singing Detective"). I have a suspicion that Frankie's bowler hat is a nod to both Chaplin and Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange" (which in turn has strong echoes of "The Tempest") so heaven knows what other subtle hints there may have been.
On the very limited number of children's characters: as various people spotted, the so-called "NHS" segment was actually about the whole of the British concept of the "welfare state" which sprang from a 1942 report that identified five great evils which governments could not afford to ignore. Hence the five great evils fought by the Mary Poppinses (a joke on the common modern complaint about the "nanny state").


@Athensfan: "I have yet to meet a single American who really liked the show. The reviews range from, "It had a couple good moments" to "it was a train wreck and I couldn't sit through it. What were they thinking?"

But the reviews in the American media were mostly favourable, which is interesting because, by and large, the professional reviewers were seeing the show live in the stadium. That suggests that the television presentation is the heart of the problem- and guess which broadcaster adopted a unique approach to the show, with time delay, alternative camera choices, and a near-constant commentary so full of spoilers that OF COURSE THERE WERE NO SURPRISES for American viewers.


@baron-pierreIV: "For me...and I know this is all Monday morning, post-mortem quarterbacking...really the missed oppty was a chapter on GB and London's standing up to Hitler's blitzkreig. "

Sadly, I don't think successful defence against aerial attack is a British achievement that has been adopted all over the world :wacko:


On the whole liking / not liking thing; it is extremely odd that opinions seem to be so polarised (and indeed, a look around the Web indicates that there were plenty of "likes" outwith the UK, and plenty of "not likes" within). Leaving aside the above-mentioned problems for Americans, it looks as if the key to liking it was to relax, and treat it as an experience, not a "show". Maybe that was even a point of the initial River Thames sequence- you needed to go with the flow!

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@baron-pierreIV:

Sadly, I don't think successful defence against aerial attack is a British achievement that has been adopted all over the world :wacko:

Huh? I don't quite understand your retort. R u getting all technical -- which isn't the point. What I mention was just part of my visualization of how to stage the number. It's a dramatized presentation -- NOT a factually or technically correct one since this isn't a lesson in battlefield strategy, but a show.

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I've already acknowledgedI forgot the Queen of Hearts. Apologies for the second time.

By "American media" I'm guessing you mean primarily NBC who had a vested interest in promoting their own product. As for other newspapers calling the show spectacular. Of course it was. As Paul pointed out, anything on that scale is going to be spectacular and there were some great moments. The real story though, was the start of the Games. I haven't seen any papers that really delved into an aesthetic analysis of the show.

Again, I can only refer to my experience. I don't know a single non-Brit who liked it.

And by the way, none of the Brits I know saw the show in person either and they still loved it. I also felt that NBC thoroughly explained the show and I have not been further enlightened by much that I've read here. An intellectual explanation is nowhere near as powerful as emotional identification. That's what was missing for much of the international audience.

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And by the way, none of the Brits I know saw the show in person either and they still loved it. I also felt that NBC thoroughly explained the show and I have not been further enlightened by much that I've read here. An intellectual explanation is nowhere near as powerful as emotional identification. That's what was missing for much of the international audience.

I thot it was a mixed bag, hitting maybe -- if one were to quantify things -- 65% of all the required goalposts. Thot it far more successful than 2004 which I thot only scored 45% in terms of full potential. But again, like you, this is all my subjective scoresheet.

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@baron-pierreIV: [about my rejection of his suggestion for a Blitz segment] "Huh? I don't quite understand your retort. R u getting all technical -- which isn't the point. What I mention was just part of my visualization of how to stage the number."

Sorry. What I meant was that if the London cultural presentation had a theme of British developments which have been exported around the world (which was true even of the minor linking segments) then the Blitz / Battle of Britain didn't fit the theme.


@Athensfan: "By "American media" I'm guessing you mean primarily NBC who had a vested interest in promoting their own product. As for other newspapers calling the show spectacular. Of course it was."

By "American media" I meant ALL the American media, including NBC's broadcasting rivals. I didn't say newspapers were calling the show spectacular, I said the reviews were mostly favourable; quite simply, the American reviewers, and others from around the world, were mostly having big fun! Some American newsblogs even covered the whole show twice, once live (mostly loving it) and once NBC-live (mostly wanting Lauer and Vieira to STFU)- which brings me to:


@Athensfan: "I also felt that NBC thoroughly explained the show"

No. As I indicated in my post yesterday, talking all the time is not the same as explaining. I've studied most of the NBC version, and what they were actually doing was this sort of thing, which is NOT explaining:

[sHOW: A platoon of elderly men in red military uniforms march past the camera]
Vieira: "All of the energies unleashed by the Industrial Revolution are now trained on the centre of the stage"
[sHOW: High-angle view of centre of the stage, where molten metal appears to be flowing]
Vieira: "And the forging, of a massive ring"
[sHOW: Molten metal appears to flow into a ring-shaped mould]


Note that Vieira's comments (a) state the obvious while ignoring the non-obvious- those Redcoats were in the Media Guide, and really should have been explained to Americans above all others- and (B) slightly precede the scenes they refer to; hence NO SURPRISES.

And I never even mentioned how the commercials ruined the flow; America really needs to get a TV funding model which permits events like this to be seen without breaks.



Oooh- letter b followed by a close parenthesis turns automatically into a lopsided Smiley.

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Every single detail in the media guide won't make it into the broadcast. Meredith Viera explaining redcoats isn't going to make American tv audiences suddenly love the OC.

There's a difference between calling the OC a spectacular opening to the Games and giving it a glowing theatrical review. The OC is always a spectacular opening to the Games.

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Every single detail in the media guide won't make it into the broadcast. Meredith Viera explaining redcoats isn't going to make American tv audiences suddenly love the OC.

There's a difference between calling the OC a spectacular opening to the Games and giving it a glowing theatrical review. The OC is always a spectacular opening to the Games.

let's first admit that NBC hacked the OC, commentary wise. this then made the viewing pleasure of the american lousy.like watch with a friend chatting about the whole time revealing plot points of the movie and commenting about how the film was shot in a friends back garden.

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@Athensfan: "Every single detail in the media guide won't make it into the broadcast. Meredith Viera explaining redcoats isn't going to make American tv audiences suddenly love the OC. "

Well, it's a bit late now, of course, but maybe if the commentators had stuck to providing the promised "context" instead of advance audio description which, as Illustrado suggests, robbed American viewers of the elements of surprise and wonder (and drowned out the music for much of the time, directly contrary to Danny Boyle's wishes), they would have had something more like the experience described by these folks:

L'Équipe (France, sport news): "La cérémonie d'ouverture offerte hier au monde entier par les Britanniques a été exceptionnelle d'audace, de poésie et d'humour"

Le Figaro (France): "Histoire, magie et émotion"

Focus (Germany): "Humorvoll, herzlich, überwältigend, intelligent: Regisseur Danny Boyle hat in London eine Eröffnungsfeier der Extraklasse inszeniert."

Der Tagesspiegel (Germany): "Diese Feier war so, wie die Spiele hoffentlich werden: amüsant, lebendig und mit dem Mut, einmal nicht den ausgetretenen Pfad zu betrampeln, nicht das zu tun, was alle anderen auch machen."

La Jornada (Mexico) "... sensibilidad y humor ... Un apasionante viaje sensorial"


I've cheated slightly there; most newspapers around the world did also use words along the lines of "spectacular"- but please stop giving the impression that that's the only good word the media had to say about the London opening.

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let's first admit that NBC hacked the OC, commentary wise. this then made the viewing pleasure of the american lousy.like watch with a friend chatting about the whole time revealing plot points of the movie and commenting about how the film was shot in a friends back garden.

Uhmmm...take NBC out of the equation and you are NOT going to have an Olympics. NBC virtually pays for the Olympix to be possible. NBC is the IOC's sugar-daddy. Mess with NBC's programming scheme and pretty much say good-bye to the Olympics. The Olympic geek, like those who inhabit this site, now have the option of watching a live-stream virtually commercial-free except: (i) I have to reset my schedule to watch it; and (ii) haven't found a way to record what I saw on my laptop. It is live-streaming. Meanwhile, the rest of America or more specifically, some 40.7 million households watched the Opening in its time-delayed, prime-time evening slot without all the complaints you non-US viewers complain about. I don't think they really care whether Meredith Vieira missed describing a button or whether Mali was cut out of the Parade of Nations or the Queen took her toilet break and it was NOT reported.

The 40.7 million households is probably close to the numbers that NBC promised its sponsors so they are perfectly fine without u guys prescribing your unsolicited advice. Probably after China, it is the highest viewership rating in the world. So, ilustrado, JMarkSnow, just stick to the coverages availalbe to you and the USA will take care of the coverage NBC provides. It's NOT like 40.7 million households complained... ;)

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I was a fairly frequent visitor of the official London 2012 Facebook page before, during & a little the Games. There seems to be something of a dispute in this thread regarding how the Opening Ceremony was viewed by non-Brits. For some more data I thought I'd link to the comments made by people from all over the world re: the Opening Ceremony:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150984801767408&set=a.375949132407.158882.259479457407&type=1&relevant_count=1

There's 4347 comments there....

And also here:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150984335922408&set=a.375949132407.158882.259479457407&type=1&relevant_count=1

And here is BBC's roundup of worldwide reaction:

Media & worldwide reaction to Opening Ceremony
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19025686

London2012 Opening Ceremony wows world media:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19026951

Having said that, BBC Radio Five Live (news & sports station) which did the radio commentary for the Ceremony, did remark that they thought those outside Britain might struggle to understand parts of the show, but all in all, judging the foreign media/press reaction and those comments on Facebook, I'm confident that outside UK, many millions of people enjoyed it for what it was, a great show. Head-scratching at times maybe to some, but good entertainment nonetheless.

For what it's worth, I'm British, live in Britain & London was my 1st Games that I attended. And I watched all 4 Ceremonies on TV. From my perspective, in order of decreasing enjoyment, entertainment & general WOW factor, I'd rank the 4 Ceremonies as follows:

(1) Olympic Opening Ceremony

(2) Paralympics Closing Ceremony (very enjoyable)

(3) Olympics Closing Ceremony (yeah, it was alright as these things go. It's a disco I guess)

(4) Paralympics Opening Ceremony (meh! I bit dull IMO)

With a sizeable gap between numbers 2 and 3 ;-) and number (1) being WAAAAY out in front.

So I'm just a regular punter, having loved the Olympics since I watched my 1st one on the TV in 1976 (only vague memories). I'm no Olympics-geek if you will - No "expert" on what should & shouldn't be involved.

I was just sat at home, excited like a kid, waiting, wondering what was going to unfold. The BBC did their usual fantastic professional job - loved the intro film piece with Benedict Cumberbatch

(seen here:

).

I had deliberately ignored any newspaper or internet leaks regarding the Opening Ceremony. I wanted everything about it to be new & fresh to me. I didnt want to know anything about it really.

How wonderful that Danny Boyle had persuaded everyone involved (not to mention the 80,000 who attend the technical rehearsal!) with the brilliant tag-line #savethesurprise.... It was (and he is a) genius IMO.

And what <was> "the surprise" worth saving? ABSOLUTELY.

The cynicism that I've seen here regarding the "surprises" is a little unfair and unwarrented in my eyes. Sure, for those in the Stadium watching the Rings move slowly in from above, then lucky you to have worked out what was going to happen - but surely a fantastic spectacle in the flesh?. On TV it was only obvious what was going to happen a few seconds before the 5 rings came together. THAT was a surprise. And it looked FANTASTIC! Isn't that we want from a Ceremony? A beautiful & iconic image to remember it by?

To me, having seen the Green & Pleasant Land, then the surprise was <everything> that followed, especially "Pandemonium" (WOW) and "Happy and Glorious" (WOW), the Torch Relay Review, the raising of the Olympic Flag, TeamGB entry to "Heroes", the Arctic Monkeys (both tracks - loved the bikes!) and the the Lighting of the Flame: from Beckham (booo!!!) through to the 7 teenagers. And HOW could I forget Underworld's utterly WONDERFUL music? "And I Will Kiss" (Pandemonium) is, IMO, one of the best & most inspirational pieces of music I've heard whilst "Caliban's Dream" (lighting the flame) was simply beautiful and matched the occasion perfectly.

London wanted to be different and achieved that in a good & great way IMO.

I scratch my head at some of the comments here, but then I remind myself: this is the internet. This level of discussion wasn't happening during and after Seoul 1988. There are obsessive Olympic geeknuts here (I'm not quite there yet) who are going to obsess & argue over every detail - and that's what these forums for. And really, how many people are reading & contributing to this thread? Not a huge number is it. So really, a better pulse-reading of what the world at large thought IMO, are those comments on the Facebook pages :-)

Anyway, enough! You must be bored of me :-)

John

aka @ twitter.com/volshy



Addendum....

for those using Twitter, the hashtag #NBCfail became a bit of a phenomenon in the days after the Opening Ceremony. See here:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%23nbcfail+twitter&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

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I wonder what they said on My Space???

I bet almost nobody who didn't like the ceremony stopped to consider going to facebook to post his or her comments.

Only O-geeks would waste time anyway critiquing themes and details, 99.9999999% of the people that didn't like it just say somthing like this and move on:

1. It wasn’t that great.

2. It sucked.

3. WTF was that?

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Volshy,

Only fans are going to post on Facebook. Detractors are unlikely to take the time. Of course the BBC is going to offer a favorable summary. They're not exactly an unbiased source. All I can tell you is that of all my non-Brit friends, family and co-workers, nobody loved the OC.

JMarkSnow2012,

The OC is primarily a visual medium. All the verbal explanation in the world isn't going to engender a visceral, emotional experience. If you watch Athens or Beijing without any commentary, they're still totally captivating -- even if you don't understand all the nuances. The visuals and the styling are so arresting that they hold attention and elicit that "wow" response. The only times London did that for me was the Green and Pleasant set, the ring pyro effect and the Queen's entrance.

Incidentally, everybody I know in the States was buzzing about both Athens and Beijing.

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Basically, I think Boyle got tripped by trying to do things TOO differently and crammed too much in Pandemonium (including really minor events that Brunei Kingdom guy (like I never heard of him before that night), the West Indies boat incident, the suffragete movement, the Sgt. Pepper moment...that even his own OBS cameras failed to show all of that...and to be too different in the corny balloon countdown thing; that absolutely HORRIBLE Frankie-June number. It was all too disparate and really didn't have too much cohesion. Whereas the Closing unfolded swiftly and was visually catching.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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@Baron

Did I read that right? The Brunei Kingdom guy?

Is this a wind-up?

Here we are in January 2013, nearly 6 months later... You've typed a lot of words & made a load of posts about this Opening Ceremony, clearly a subject close to your heart and you're referring to the Brunei Kingdom guy? Really?

Did NBC fail you so utterly? Either that, or you were so disengaged with the whole spectacle that you couldn't be bothered to even look up any number of reviews which made reference to the main characters of the show.

Brunei Kingdom guy? Wow.

I'll leave it to others to correct you.

Unless I've just bitten a huge piece of juicy bait of course....

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@baron

You refer to "his own OBS cameras".

What do you mean? It's well known that Boyle was unhappy some aspects of the Finnish OBS crew that filmed the Ceremony. He wasn't in.control of them.

@Athensfan

Outside of the US, ABC streams (you meant NBC??) cannot be watched, unless jiggery-pokery is used. Proxies etc. This is common around the world. Hence why you probably can't watch BBC streams.

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@baron-pierreIV

"West Indies boat incident" - again, NBC letting you down in the most basic of ways.

That boat was the Windrush and brought the 1st list of immigrants from the West Indies to the UK in 1948. S seminal moment in this country's modern history and clearly a huge moment regarding multi-culturism in the UK.

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@baron-pierreIV: "NBC is the IOC's sugar-daddy. Mess with NBC's programming scheme and pretty much say good-bye to the Olympics."

Unlikely. NBC is indeed the IOC's sugar daddy, but the Games themselves might benefit if the IOC had less money thrown at it, and started having to think seriously about the "feeding frenzy" problem which has driven Games costs to insane heights.


@baron-pierreIV: "the USA will take care of the coverage NBC provides. It's NOT like 40.7 million households complained."

Sorry, but NBC is not a democratic institution. NBC will take care of itself, whatever the effect on the nation. Substantial numbers with access to social networking did complain- hence the rapid growth in popularity of the nbcfail hashtag. And judging by the comments from US contributors to this discussion, it seems that in a sense, 40.7 million households did complain, because apparently none of you knows anybody who enjoyed what they saw.


@paul: "I bet almost nobody who didn't like the ceremony stopped to consider going to facebook to post his or her comments." and
@Athensfan: "Only fans are going to post on Facebook. Detractors are unlikely to take the time."

Substantial numbers of people did add negative comments to online press articles about the London Opening the following day, so I wonder if there's an interesting pattern of responses across different outlets? There's probably a PhD in that for somebody!


@Athensfan: "The OC is primarily a visual medium."

To be precise, for anybody not in the stadium smelling the sulfur, the OC is entirely an audio-visual medium. As I have repeatedly noted, Danny Boyle stressed the importance of the music in the London Opening. If the music was obscured too much by your local TV commentators, your ability to enjoy the occasion was immediately impaired. Successful commentators would be those who, after attending the rehearsals, worked out the most helpful comments to make and the least intrusive times to make them. NBC's commentators, despite having three hours to fine-tune their work with reference to the actual event, failed on both counts.


@Athensfan: "If you watch Athens or Beijing without any commentary, they're still totally captivating."

Actually, no. They're quite interesting, and of course spectacular, but they both, in different ways, ultimately feel rather cold- unlike Sydney, for example.


@baron-pierreIV: "really minor events that Brunei Kingdom guy (like I never heard of him before that night)"

To take the bait kindly passed on by Volshy: among many other achievements, IKB did revolutionise America's connnections with the wider world, by building the first trans-Atlantic steamship big enough to keep up a regular schedule, and later the first steamshp big enough to lay ocean-crossing telegraph cables.


@baron-pierreIV: " It was all too disparate and really didn't have too much cohesion. Whereas the Closing unfolded swiftly and was visually catching."

I accept that the "chaos principle" was taken too far in the Opening (although personally I enjoyed never knowing quite what was going to happen next, and that may be a key factor dividing the "likes" and "not likes")- but it has been fascinating, over the past few months, to discover just how much cohesion it really had.
Overall, I agree with Volshy's ranking of the four ceremonies (although there were some wonderful moments in the Paralympic Opening, such as "Bird Gehrl" and "Spasticus Autisticus"). The Olympic Closing was spectacular, but it was utterly vapid. On the other hand, while Coldplay aren't everybody's cup of tea, they were exactly the right choice for a valediction, and the Paralympic Closing had genuine emotional resonance.

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@baron-pierreIV

"West Indies boat incident" - again, NBC letting you down in the most basic of ways.

That boat was the Windrush and brought the 1st list of immigrants from the West Indies to the UK in 1948. S seminal moment in this country's modern history and clearly a huge moment regarding multi-culturism in the UK.

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@baron-pierreIV

Havent got time to read all the posts. but re some of your comments about your lack of knowledge of the characters in the OC- I was wondering, have you manged to figure out yet who Sir Tim Berners-Lee is yet - as I seem to recall NBC (staggeringly) asking the US audience to google him ....

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@baron-pierreIV

You don't care about the details? The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games?

But you spend SOOO much time & energy discussing the damn thing!

Let's face it, this show just wasn't for you and we should just leave it there.

I can't help but ask... What did you think of Underworld's 2 original compositions and the soundtrack in general? The CD did very well worldwide (top 10, maybe #1, in nearly 70 countries), although not in the US.

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@baron-pierreIV

Havent got time to read all the posts. but re some of your comments about your lack of knowledge of the characters in the OC- I was wondering, have you manged to figure out yet who Sir Tim Berners-Lee is yet - as I seem to recall NBC (staggeringly) asking the US audience to google him ....

Yeah, but all Americans know it was really Al Gore who invented the internet!

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