Jump to content

Opening Ceremony


Recommended Posts

JMarkSnow: the point is that the OC should not be dependent on language in order to be understood. The images and music should communicate eloquently on their own. Your point about wanting more extensive verbal footnotes shows that London failed at this. Whether or not Athens and Beijing were to your personal taste or not, they succeeded.

That's exactly it. It should be self-explanatory visually; no need for overly detailed narration. What if you're watching as a group, all talking & joking...there shouldn't be the imposition that you all have to shut up to listen to lengthy narration to explain arcane facts and complicated narrative. Occasionally, there might be a need to point out who this figure is or was -- and I think both Athens and Beijing did require some explanation. Like I didn't (to this day) know why a Cycladic was picked to rise out of the water (other than it was a simple enough mass to hide the 2 further wonders inside; or that man on the cube, and a few other items). For Beijing, I knew about the paper and gunpowder, but claiming the printing blocks was a stretch; and OK, I'll grant them the compass, altho non-Chinese sailors and navigators had astrolabes & other similar devices to be able to navigate.

of the last decade's ceremonies, probably Albertville, Barcelona, Sydney, Salt Lake and Vancouver required the least amount of "explaining" to do. World Cup 2010's Closing was very self-explanatory as was Melbourne 2006 -- and they still held wonders despite that.

The Frankie-June story for London might've worked in a proscenium theatrical setting, but in a large arena scale, an intimate love-story told via personalized social media was lost and fell flat. And the images of hip youngsters, etc., were things you had all seen before -- just different costuming and maybe choreography. But the basic story-telling images weren't exactly new. It just wasn't grand enough and of a Ceremonial scale.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Athensfan: "the OC should not be dependent on language in order to be understood. The images and music should communicate eloquently on their own. Your point about wanting more extensive verbal footnotes shows that London failed at this. Whether or not Athens and Beijing were to your personal taste or not, they succeeded. "

Are we talking about the same Beijing OC? The one where the British commentators could hardly keep up with their explaining of the Chinese history being portrayed? Without the commentary for Beijing, the only message most Westerners got was "wow, they're well trained- and there's a whole lot of them too". I think Athens did do that better, but after the promise of the opening drum duet, it seemed to lose passion.


@cormiermax : [re The Cosby Show] "Yeah, that part was hilarious and random, adding to my not understanding of whats going on AT ALL"

Well, I guess that's the last time an OC will make any concessions to American culture. Did nobody spot that the clips from Cosby and Modern Family (and a British sitcom) referred to the same situation that was being played out in the stage household, emphasising its universality? The same reason so many American movies featured in the kissing montage...


@baron-pierreIV: "Also I think u're saying about the 'exports'? I am sure Boyle wanted to avoid that because then his show would come out as direct comparison to Beijing (which blatantly exploited China's 4 BIG contributions to world civilization"

It was (of course) a bit more subtle than that. China's "four great inventions" contributed much less to world civilisation than they should have, thanks to isolationism. The magnetic compass, for example, was almost very probably re-invented independently in Europe, long after China. The inventions which triggered the Western industrial revolution: processing coal into coke, and smelting metal in a blast furnace, both also seem to have been invented in China but not utilised to their full potential, then re-invented, apparently independently, in the West. Similarly China gave the world moveable type- but not the printing press. One of the London Opening's many responses to the Chinese seems to have been a reminder that Britain was not isolationist, so British contributions to the world's culture tend not to have to be re-invented, just imitated (with or without the relevant patent/copyright royalties).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@baron-pierreIV: "Also I think u're saying about the 'exports'? I am sure Boyle wanted to avoid that because then his show would come out as direct comparison to Beijing (which blatantly exploited China's 4 BIG contributions to world civilization"

It was (of course) a bit more subtle than that. China's "four great inventions" contributed much less to world civilisation than they should have, thanks to isolationism. The magnetic compass, for example, was almost very probably re-invented independently in Europe, long after China. The inventions which triggered the Western industrial revolution: processing coal into coke, and smelting metal in a blast furnace, both also seem to have been invented in China but not utilised to their full potential, then re-invented, apparently independently, in the West. Similarly China gave the world moveable type- but not the printing press. One of the London Opening's many responses to the Chinese seems to have been a reminder that Britain was not isolationist, so British contributions to the world's culture tend not to have to be re-invented, just imitated (with or without the relevant patent/copyright royalties).

Mark, see post just previous to yours.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Baron, it's so fun to agree with you. Sincerely. I think it's happened twice in one week!! Just FYI, the Cycladic head opened to reveal a Kouros which opened to reveal a classical sculpture. The Cycladic head is one of the earliest artifacts of human history. The Kouros came centuries later and the ultra-naturalistic classical sculpture was the final piece of the progression. In addition to tracing chronological developments in art history, it gave a sense of developing humanity -- a key theme of the ceremony. Plus the Cycladic head made a super cool projection screen for Pappaioannou's nod to Greek mathematicians.

JMarkSnow, I can imagine that you want to point the finger at that lengthy explanation above as proof of your point. There's a difference, however, between narrative that enhances the viewing experience and narrative that is absolutely essential in order to comprehend it. (Incidentally, Baron hates Athens' OC. I still don't get his viewpoint, but there it is. All the explanation in the world won't win him over. Best to use a different example to make my point.) There was certainly much to amplify in Beijing's opening ceremony, but even if you had no idea that the printing press was a printing press, even if you didn't know the full significance of the naval scene or the children gazing up at whale projections, it was an awesome and engaging sight. Much of it could be understood very well intuitively and the bits that weren't as obvious were still gorgeous and captivating. The commentary added a layer of understanding, but the show still worked without it. I can't say the same about London.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do u want me to say? So what then? Do you want me to do cartwheels, or lose sleep over it? It was noted and I moved on. I mean, like everyone else, I can pick and choose what I would consider a 'wow' moment or not, don't I?

But since you pressed me, coming at the end of the absolutely uninspired, WTF? Frankie-June sequence, his unveiling was so post-climatic. It was like...who cares if he's Sir Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Also I think u're saying about the 'exports'? I am sure Boyle wanted to avoid that because then his show would come out as direct comparison to Beijing (which blatantly exploited China's 4 BIG contributions to world civilization), which I think he tried to avoid. So I didn't think including TBL (What's with the 3 names???) was anything significant or jaw-dropping. And it was confusing because he was mixing real-live people with roles played: Kenneth Branagh playing Islamabad Brunei Kingdom (yeah.yeah)...then Daniel Craig playing James Bond...but a stuntman playing QE2; then Rowan Atkinson playing Mr. Bean imagining himself as Harold Abrahams; then Voldemort and the hydrocephalic baby, and then the F-J travesty unfolded, it was like...how cares about the unknown man at the end of that number? Maybe only the appearance of ALice in her Upsidedown World would have validated the sheer confusion that Boyle had unreeled for the world.

He's responded. Well allow me to retort

I apologise on behalf of Danny Boyle for an assumed level of intelligence in the viewing audience. I mean, it must be so difficult without the audio to be able to distinguish between the dramatic representation of an historical figure, a dramatic representation of a fictional character and the recognition of a figure who has changed recent history - whose invention - be it solely or together with others allows us to communicate on this very medium. We really - as some bloke in US politics said 'misunderestimated' that one

As to why the 3 names, maybe it represents a level of class and intelligence - as opposed to say the 3 names of Mary Decker-Slaney or Florence Griffith-Joyner which represents tears when you dont the medal you were 2promised", or the drugs you took to get them. Which reminds - why the IV - a reminder that de Coubertain was the fourth child of his parents ?, or that you missed out on the medal race of life, and use it to remind yourself that one really must do better.

Maybe if you had watched the BBC coverage of ZO01 as I like to call it, you would have seen my fathers picture on that memorial wall - which NBC decided to not show it to its audience in the US but rather an interview of Michael Phelps - I guess one can never get tired of interviewing someone they will interview again multiple times during the games

As for the childrens literature / NHS section - well, given the US contribution to childrens literature is a cat in a hat, I'll take Voldermort and the Queen of Hearts any day of the week - but then again, I guess if one does look at the literary output nations, it will always pale into significance versus Great Britain's Shakespeare, Blake, Chaucer on the adult side to modern day Julia Donaldson, JK Rowling et al on the childrens side.

As for Beijing showing four things they gave to the world - you see, us Brits have given so much to the worldfor so long, we had to leave most of the stuff out. But on this point, some assistance please from a US perspective. I've got 3 things youve given us - Gun Culture, Obesity and Celebrity Obsession - can you help me with the fourth ?

For those of us lucky to be in the stadium on Friday 27th July - the day after what would have been my fathers 64th birthday - we witnessed a ceremony that touched all five senses - the visual beauty of the stadia, the pulsating & varied soundtrack, the smell of cordite in Pandemonium, the touch of the pixels in our hand as we interacted en masse, and yes the taste of expectation that these were to be special games

For those watching the ceremony on TV (oh yes, another British invention) - you only had access to two of those senses - the visual and the audio. I can only assume as I stated earlier, that you can only cope with 50% of what was available to you.

One last thing on NBC coverage.. The day after the closing - which again I was in the stadium for - I flew to the US on business. The next day they showed an interview with David Boudia on breakfast TV - the 10m Platform diving Gold medallist. The strapline was that he had 'crushed' the opposition to win this. Now, this seemed a little strange - as you see, 3 days earlier, I was in the acquatics centre, sitting in AA seats for DV016 - which if you are unfamiliar with LOCOG ticket codes, was the best seats you could get for the 10m diving final. Now, Boudia had an incredible set of 6 dives. But he won for 2 other reasons - firstly, that Tom Daley (who was leading after 5 dives) had a lower tarriff dive compared to the others for dive 6 - and more importantly, Qui Bo - the best diver in the world - inexplicably, stuffed up an earlier dive. The winning margin was a mere 1.8 points - a mere fraction in the world of 10m platform diving - so he hardly crushed the opposition. That is just one illustration as to why the NBC coverage was so flawed. Yes they give big money to the IOC, but it doesnt mean that they deliver a quality product

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@bruneikingdomguyIII

So you participated in the Opening Ceremony at the 1997 Atlantic City Olympic Games huh? Nice.

With reference to your idea of WW2 being remembered in London's Opening Ceremony, I can't recall a depiction of any of the US's military events during Los Angles' 1983 or Atlantic City's 1997 Opening Ceremonies - no sight of the US's role in the C-day landings at Normandsville during the early part of WW2 or General Custard's last stand at the Alabama in the infamous War of the Slaves. I suppose remembering the tragic and fatal Chinese attack at Diamond Harbour should have been included in Beijing's Opening Ceremony? Or at least solemnly commemorated during Atlantic City's Opening Ceremony ?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@bruneikingdomguyIII

So you participated in the Opening Ceremony at the 1997 Atlantic City Olympic Games huh? Nice.

With reference to your idea of WW2 being remembered in London's Opening Ceremony, I can't recall a depiction of any of the US's military events during Los Angles' 1983 or Atlantic City's 1997 Opening Ceremonies - no sight of the US's role in the C-day landings at Normandsville during the early part of WW2 or General Custard's last stand at the Alabama in the infamous War of the Slaves. I suppose remembering the tragic and fatal Chinese attack at Diamond Harbour should have been included in Beijing's Opening Ceremony? Or at least solemnly commemorated during Atlantic City's Opening Ceremony ?

i think your referring to Atlanta 1996. the said, i do think the showing the blitz in OC might be a bit awkward to the germans....and the italians.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think when the papers were running with the idea of the Blitz recreation a few months before the ceremony it was discussed on here. And I don't remember any of our German members having a big problem with it. If the Blitz was to be portrayed, I couldn't imagine Boyle doing it with a Marching Band blaring out "Two World Wars and One World Cup, Doo Dah, Doo Dah". It could've been weaved into the narrative after Pandamonium portraying sensitively a major episode in the history of East London.

In fact, my guess for the ceremony was not far off this. I foresaw green and pleasent being replaced with the industry as it played out. Then you have the blitz, dark clouds, thunderous music, then a scene showing the aftermath, then you have the green and pleasent returning (i.e. the creation of the Olympic Park and a reawakening). But Boyle chose broader brustrokes and more imaginative metaphors than simply a history of the East End which is what my guess was.

But the Blitz scene didn't happen so it's a moot point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@baron-pierreIV : "What if you're watching as a group, all talking & joking...there shouldn't be the imposition that you all have to shut up to listen to lengthy narration to explain arcane facts and complicated narrative. Occasionally, there might be a need to point out who this figure is or was -- and I think both Athens and Beijing did require some explanation. Like I didn't (to this day) know why a Cycladic was picked to rise out of the water"

I'm fairly certain the Cycladic head was used because the design looks quite futuristic, yet is actually thousands of years old- tying in with the image Greece tried to present of its long history and bright future (which didn't quite happen after 2004, unfortunately). I didn't know what it was at the time, but I was certainly impressed, and I got the gist of the subsequent revelations. However, I would argue that if Danny Boyle requested commentary to be kept to a minimum, he intended London to work in the same sort of way, with a basic and easily-understood narrative (starting with the replacement of green fields by smokestack industries) plus extras, not essential to the main narrative, which people might need explaining.

Where the London Opening differed from Athens and Beijing was in making it clear that the extras (with perhaps one special exception, Tim) were extras. Commentators need not have said a single word about the main narratives (American viewers may not have realised that the stadium announcements were carefully designed to provide essential information at the right moment, because they were rarely given the chance to hear them); all that was required was a brief explanation of elements which did not seem to fit the main narrative. For example, the Media Guide explains each of the random parade elements in "Pandemonium" in simple terms which take about five to ten seconds to read aloud- total commentary time advisable in the 15-minute segment, under sixty seconds. Instead of which, NBC ignored most of the random elements, and helpfully informed you that smokestacks were rising, as if Americans have never seen a smokestack.


@baron-pierreIV : "The Frankie-June story for London might've worked in a proscenium theatrical setting, but in a large arena scale, an intimate love-story told via personalized social media was lost and fell flat." ... "the basic story-telling images weren't exactly new."

The problem there is that you have stated you see OCs as essentially visual, but "Frankie and June" was meant to be listened to, and even danced to. The love story was actually the equally trivial love story from "The Tempest" with modern personal communications technology in the role of Ariel- it was basically an excuse for the music (both in the OC and in "The Tempest," pretty much). As the stadium audience don't seem to have complained too much, I guess in reality it did work on a large arena scale- probably precisely because it was so obviously just an excuse, a bit of extra fun.


@Paul: "...how about that bell!?"

Well, it symbolised its originator, the Whitechapel Foundry, one of the oldest manufacturing business in the East End of London, which also happens to be one of the oldest manufacturing businesses in the world (on the same site since the 16th century- it's not certain whether it is a continuation of a foundry that existed on another site nearby in the 15th century; ironically the cramped city site meant they had to sub-contract the actual casting of this huge bell, which rival firm Taylors of Loughborough would not have needed to do). It also symbolised the pursuit of bell-ringing (change-ringing), which has been popular in Britain, but almost nowhere else, for centuries- the basic descending peal was a motif in the original music composed for the ceremony. Like church bells, it was not seen much, but it was heard quite frequently.


@Madscouser : "the US contribution to childrens literature is a cat in a hat"

I'm going to have to disagree with you there. America's children's literature, from Lewis Carroll's near-contemporary Mark Twain onward, has produced a great deal of fabulous work. Also, Philo T. Farnsworth (American) showed the real all-electronic future of television- John Logie Baird's original (British) electro-mechanical system was a dead-end (although there is a slight complication that Farnsworth's particular version of an electronic camera was also a dead end, but that's another story).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Watched the Pandemonium section again last night. It just gets better and better. So many memories, it still makes my hairs stand on end.

Anybody that took part in that should be soooooo proud of themselves. People talk on here saying the ceremony was messy, but every single face that is shown in that segment was united and full of passion and total belief in what they are doing, for people who arn't trained in such things their faces and actions tell an incredible story. So why does everything have to be explained, just sit back and enjoy it, the faces told all the story that needed telling. I remember reading a quote from one of the performers saying they could feel people willing them to do well. And it was true, everyone in that stadium was rooting for every single member of that cast and the result as I have said before is the greatest piece of stagecraft I have ever seen.

I hope the people of Brasil get to feel as proud of their ceremonies and games as I feel for these. If only everyone can get to feel that feeling, the world would be a more joyous place indeed.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

. That is just one illustration as to why the NBC coverage was so flawed. Yes they give big money to the IOC, but it doesnt mean that they deliver a quality product

Wow. So touchy & defensive. . .

Anyway, re your last comment. Well, "quality" is a relative term. If you say, it's flawed...then whoopeee!! More power to you. But like, who cares?? :rolleyes: If it's the ONLY version that U.S.audiences will bother to see, then how can one know whether it's better or worse? Millions of viewers DON'T put themselves thru the comparative exercises that Olympic geeks here do. They have other things going on in their lives.

As for the rest of your comments, bitter drivel...not worth responding to.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@baron-pierreIV : "What if you're watching as a group, all talking & joking...there shouldn't be the imposition that you all have to shut up to listen to lengthy narration to explain arcane facts and complicated narrative. Occasionally, there might be a need to point out who this figure is or was -- and I think both Athens and Beijing did require some explanation. Like I didn't (to this day) know why a Cycladic was picked to rise out of the water"

I'm fairly certain the Cycladic head was used because the design looks quite futuristic, yet is actually thousands of years old- tying in with the image Greece tried to present of its long history and bright future (which didn't quite happen after 2004, unfortunately). I didn't know what it was at the time, but I was certainly impressed, and I got the gist of the subsequent revelations. However, I would argue that if Danny Boyle requested commentary to be kept to a minimum, he intended London to work in the same sort of way, with a basic and easily-understood narrative (starting with the replacement of green fields by smokestack industries) plus extras, not essential to the main narrative, which people might need explaining.

@baron-pierreYV : "The Frankie-June story for London might've worked in a proscenium theatrical setting, but in a large arena scale, an intimate love-story told via personalized social media was lost and fell flat." ... "the basic story-telling images weren't exactly new."

The problem there is that you have stated you see OCs as essentially visual, but "Frankie and June" was meant to be listened to, and even danced to. The love story was actually the equally trivial love story from "The Tempest" with modern personal communications technology in the role of Ariel- it was basically an excuse for the music (both in the OC and in "The Tempest," pretty much). As the stadium audience don't seem to have complained too much, I guess in reality it did work on a large arena scale- probably precisely because it was so obviously just an excuse, a bit of extra fun.

@marksnow, Yeah...yeah... I know it's futuristic look and all that. Just took me by surprise, I thought I was seeing one of the moai (that's those Easter Island behemoths) rising out of the pond. And see where I saw the disconnect...the lone, moaning woman was holding a classical head...and then all of a sudden, this bizarre, so un-Greek-like head, comes out of the lake. I just found that a bit jarring. (They should've called the whole sequence...the Greeks give good head! :lol: ) That's all.

Re the Frankie-June sequence, I can't speak for the live audience because I wasn't there and I view it as a TV viewer. It had a very much been there-done it feel to it. DIdn't leave me with good feelings.

As 4 the other comments, I'll let those slide for now. ;)

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And yet you expect people to listen to your pontifications on the subject ?

Well, some have asked; and then you BUTTED in. But no, people can ignore them and that's fine with me. Just as I can similarly ignore your rather belligerent, provocative and condescending remarks.

And u know what? If you put something out there as public as a a global telecast, be prepared for a billion+ reactions to it. If you don't like how others have reacted to it ....and invaded your "fragile ego;" then either tough it out or don't even show it. Duh. :rolleyes:

I guess we're even now.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, some have asked; and then you BUTTED in. But no, people can ignore them and that's fine with me. Just as I can similarly ignore your rather belligerent, provocative and condescending remarks.

And u know what? If you put something out there as public as a a global telecast, be prepared for a billion+ reactions to it. If you don't like how others have reacted to it ....and invaded your "fragile ego;" then either tough it out or don't even show it. Duh. :rolleyes:

I guess we're even now.

BUTTED in... a very interesting choice of phrase given your latter comments.

It would seem that you wish to 'hold court' with your views and your views alone - and woe betide anyone who is willing to offer a different view - whilst peddling a book that is already out of date. A global audience will naturally have many opinions based on national identity, expectations etc and not every view will coalesce.

BUT you seem to think that your an expert on ceremonies because you were 'involved' backstage at LA and a performer in Atlanta... Atlanta being widely regarded as one of the more inferior Olympics of recent years - and made a decision that you would rather view the 2012 edition via the prism of television, BUT turn down the volume as you the audio 'doesn't do it' for you

BUT hey, I'm just a fan of the Olympics who shelled out money to actual be part of the experience - as opposed to someone trying to make money on the back of their opinion of the games

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One last thing on NBC coverage.. The day after the closing - which again I was in the stadium for - I flew to the US on business. The next day they showed an interview with David Boudia on breakfast TV - the 10m Platform diving Gold medallist. The strapline was that he had 'crushed' the opposition to win this. Now, this seemed a little strange - as you see, 3 days earlier, I was in the acquatics centre, sitting in AA seats for DV016 - which if you are unfamiliar with LOCOG ticket codes, was the best seats you could get for the 10m diving final. Now, Boudia had an incredible set of 6 dives. But he won for 2 other reasons - firstly, that Tom Daley (who was leading after 5 dives) had a lower tarriff dive compared to the others for dive 6 - and more importantly, Qui Bo - the best diver in the world - inexplicably, stuffed up an earlier dive. The winning margin was a mere 1.8 points - a mere fraction in the world of 10m platform diving - so he hardly crushed the opposition. That is just one illustration as to why the NBC coverage was so flawed. Yes they give big money to the IOC, but it doesnt mean that they deliver a quality product

What about the BBC calling Paula Radcliffe's Athens sit-down strike "courageous"? She realized all hopes of a medal were gone and she gave up instead of fighting it out. It was patently obvious, but of course the BBC wasn't going to call a spade a spade.

All countries promote their own media. Fortunately David Boudia doesn't believe he "crushed" his competition. He put everything together when it mattered and others did not deliver. That's all there is to it.

NBC's job is to attract as many viewers as possible. That's what they owe to their advertisers and shareholders. The best way to get viewership is to emphasize exciting victories by homegrown athletes. It's the same with any country in the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

but to be fair atlanta OC was a bit of a mess too

Well, for that "Welcome to Atlanta" number, yeah. But you know, what history could Atlanta really draw on? The South (and the US) are relatively young compared to the 1,000 year-old history of China or several hundred years of the UK? That's what the producers had to work with and made the best of it. The "Call to the Spirits," (Cirque du Soleil was the consultant on that number), the "Summertime" sequence (the allegories of the Sun and the Moon and the butterflies), and the Lantern/Homage show to ancient Greece were as good as any other recent Ceremonial highlights. I doubt that David Atkins or Danny Boyle could've made it better.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...