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Opening Ceremony


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In all fairness, I might have been more favorably disposed towards London's cauldron and lighting if they hadn't built up the secret so much beforehand. I doubt I ever would've been over the moon about it, but the ultra hush-hush preamble definitely resulted in an anti-climactic letdown. That was my experience anyway.

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As a creative I found it glorious. The concept , the execution, the link to Londons past games. Simply gorgeous. My only change I would have had the Olympians past run round the stadium then right at the last minute pass the torches to the youth. The camera at the base looking up through the cauldon was a a masterstroke.

I was in that crowd, the realisation of what was happening to those petals made the lighting even more incredible. I didnt hear moderate applause I heard gasps of disbelief followed by applause and cheering.

That was the moment Thomas Heatherwick burst into tears as well apparently, as the crowd grasped.

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@paul: "a slow gathering of applause and moderate cheering, as though they were unsure or not moved enough to cheer like past lightings"

Now that is a useful observation. I think spectators were indeed unsure- but I suspect they were unsure about two things: most obviously, what the Cauldron was supposed to do, but perhaps more seriously, I think they were unsure how to react to what felt more like a moment in a sacred ceremony than the opening of a sports event.


@paul: "Stop blaming NBC for the show, take some responsibility."

I'm not really blaming NBC for the show, just trying to account for the fact that, while reaction worldwide (and even in the UK) was somewhat polarised; the negative view seems to have been more prevalent in the USA than anywhere else. The quality difference between the two commentaries I transcribed is real, and wide- and there was quite a bit more of the worse one.


@baron-pierreIV: "and I thought I was anal. Scary."

I majored in English Lit. Details matter when analysing a creative work; such as, for example, the fact that (unless I'm mistaken in my identifications) Bob Costas kept quiet through this segment, except for announcing the actual lighting of the petals. Is that like a joint-commentator King of the Jungle thing?


@Athensfan: "It's not my job to run around and find the best broadcast I can for each moment of the Games."

Nor mine. I suspect that Barry Davies, though better than the BBC and NBC teams, was not the best- but I greatly respect him for his efforts to fit his commentary in with the flow of the event (note how his explanation of the petals lasts from the moment the youngsters turn off the main track to the moment they arrive at the inner circle), and for trying to balance information with atmosphere while keeping his comments to a minimum. I also respect the vision team at NBC for using their extra three hours to make shot changes which were mostly improvements (unlike any other aspect of the NBC version).


@Athensfan: "A C can become a C- or a C+, but not an A+."

But there's the enigma. London was simultaneously a C- and at least an A-, but in reactions on the night, rarely anything in between- and as I have noted, it wasn't a simple World vs UK split. I think Rio, in particular, will be trying to identify what made that happen, why some people went with the flow and some absolutely didn't.


@Paul: "I still feel something went horribly wrong in the cauldrons design process that resulted in the fixture they ended up with, parts of it looked more like a prototype than a final version."

The exposure of the central mechanism, if that's what you're referring to, was certainly intentional; I think it was supposed to link in with the celebration of Brunel etc. as a statement about engineering as creativity.

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As a creative I found it glorious. The concept , the execution, the link to Londons past games. Simply gorgeous. My only change I would have had the Olympians past run round the stadium then right at the last minute pass the torches to the youth. The camera at the base looking up through the cauldon was a a masterstroke.

I was in that crowd, the realisation of what was happening to those petals made the lighting even more incredible. I didnt hear moderate applause I heard gasps of disbelief followed by applause and cheering.

That was the moment Thomas Heatherwick burst into tears as well apparently, as the crowd grasped.

You enjoyed everything? Even the texting segment? The rapping? The strange inclusion of the Cosby show?

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Atlanta was GREAT -- especially the Opening. And it was unique because it was the Centennial!! Athens 2004 was subpar, crap and pretentious.

If Davey & others who were there can vouch for London, then I can vouch for Atlanta -- and opinions of others who weren't there, don't count. Sorry, irrelevant reviews of Atlanta. I guess we will start another 100 pages of this. I'm NOT going away soon!

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Atlanta was GREAT -- especially the Opening. And it was unique because it was the Centennial!! Athens 2004 was subpar, crap and pretentious.

If Davey & others who were there can vouch for London, then I can vouch for Atlanta -- and opinions of others who weren't there, don't count. Sorry, irrelevant reviews of Atlanta. I guess we will start another 100 pages of this. I'm NOT going away soon!

i think it was worst because atlanta's OC celebrated the fact that it was the centennial of the Olympics. it's like having a medal for being alive in the year 2000.

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i think it was worst because atlanta's OC celebrated the fact that it was the centennial of the Olympics. it's like having a medal for being alive in the year 2000.

Oh come on. Whoever hosted in 1996 was going to have to mark the Centennial. Overall, my two most vivid memories are the pick-up trucks and the Greek vase, so my feelings are mixed. But if nothing else, I do think Atlanta got the mix right between showcasing the South and marking the moment for the Olympics.

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Sorry, ilustrado. U weren't there. Doesn't count. ;) It was MAHVELOUS!!

i know i was not there. i was six living in subic bay, philippines. :-S

Oh come on. Whoever hosted in 1996 was going to have to mark the Centennial. Overall, my two most vivid memories are the pick-up trucks and the Greek vase, so my feelings are mixed. But if nothing else, I do think Atlanta got the mix right between showcasing the South and marking the moment for the Olympics.

i was inconsistent. it marked the olympics, then showcased the south, then maked the olympics again.

but this tread had digressed so let focus on the topic

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You enjoyed everything? Even the texting segment? The rapping? The strange inclusion of the Cosby show?

I dont think I ever said I liked everything in the ceremony. I was talking about the lighting segment. Ive said before theres lots in that ceremony that I think could have been done differently but I loved it from start to finish. The texting segment in my eyes was the weakest segment. I understood it more once I had watched it on tv. Being there some of it was lost. although the section where Tim sent the message and it went worldwide was immense.

Even the best stage shows evolve. After the press viewings and initial reactions, concerts too rarely stay the same and rigid. This is a one off show though so this simply cannot happen.

I watched the extras on the DVD at the weekend, watching the inflatable house projections is a real eye opener, so I recommend that.

On Atlanta, I loved that ceremony, I have enjoyed every opening ceremony for different reasons. I just believe they give someone, or group of people the job of showing us their interpritation of what a ceremony should be, and I respect that, its their vision and we should just sit back and enjoy it. Im having rings done at the moment and I said to her, you're the ring designer, go create me rings, I dont want to tell her it should be like this or like that, whats the point. I may as well do it myself, Ive done the same with the flowers. Creativity shouldnt be stiffled.

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OOoh and there was clips of soap operas from around the world in that segment too, there was a lot of crazy stuff, from Kes to lesbian kisses. It was nuts and random, this whole country is a bit nuts and a bit random, I for one love it for that very reason.

Beijing celebrated the fact they can all beat their drum to the same beat. We celebrate the fact we all beat our drums to our own individual very different beats.

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Here are the bits I remember from Summer Ceremonies, prior to London

LA 84 - bloke with a jetpack, lots of white pianos, lots of steps up to rings, fire going round rings to light torch

Seoul 88 - err, nothing

Barcelona 92 - para archer lighting the flame (and the flame lighting a fraction before the arrow got there)

Atlanta 96 - err, nothing

Sydney 2000 - Cathy Freeman waterfall torch lighting

Athens 2004 - err, nothing

Beijing 2008 - fake firework feet, fake singer, very co-ordinated mass people, gymnast running round stadium prior to torch lighting

Although I did here recently that one of the buses carrying athletes in Atlanta has finally found its way to the venues recently after the bus driver finally asked for directions

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Here are the bits I remember from Summer Ceremonies, prior to London

LA 84 - lots of white pianos,

Interesting how memory plays tricks. Actually the 84 baby grands for the "Rhapsody in Blue" number were the traditional black. There was only one white piano, a full grand, with the Olympic orchestra on the field floor. But interesting how our memory/recall fudges things thru time.

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On the controversial topic of the "teens and texting" sequence:

I think few (possibly not even Danny Boyle) would disagree that the "Frankie and June" segment of the London Opening was insanely over-ambitious. And yet, I was fortunate enough to be one of the people for whom it worked. I'm becoming more and more convinced that one of the key topics for investigation when trying to explain the polarised reactions to this OC is the music. Anybody who simply allowed themselves to be pulled along by the music would not worry too much about the sudden intrusion of The Cosby Show.

Oddly enough, the intrusion wasn't as sudden as it appeared. This was typical of the over-ambitious but extremely clever nature of this segment. Watching on our TVs (or the stadium screens) we saw a family going about the normal activities of a weekend evening- and to make a point about how normal everything was, we were shown extracts from TV shows and films showing the same activities. First there was the family getting ready to eat, accompanied by clips on the subject of mealtime, from British TV shows, an internationally popular Spanish TV show, and the celebrated poor-house mealtime from "Oliver Twist". Then there was mum trying to part her son from his Nintendo for the duration of the meal, accompanied by a similar scene from "Modern Family" (and a brief quote of a typical boy's reaction from a British comedy series), followed by the family prayer (not well shown on TV) and a matching scene from Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". Then as the two teenage sisters tried to get out of the house in their clubbing clothes, came matching scenes from a British soap, "Modern Family", a British comedy series, and "The Cosby Show". The kissing montage near the end of this segment applied the same principle: the Brits did not invent mealtimes, or teenagers, or love (although the montage does remind us that the Brits did show an "interracial" romance, with onscreen kiss, on one of its most popular prime-time shows, years before America's awkward Star Trek moment).

In terms of the "generations" chronology for the whole OC, "Frankie and June" shows adolescence, with appropriate topics and style. In terms of the "British achievements" chronology for the cultural presentation, this segment looks at the rise of the post-industrial era, in which intangible products, such as songs and designs, are more important than physical manufactured products. Songs are the most obvious element in common between the two chronologies, but there are others, including social networking, which owes much of its success to two intangible inventions by Brits: the World Wide Web and ARM digital processor designs.

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IMO, there are no 'best' and no 'worst' Opening Ceremonies, just as there are no 'best' and no 'worst' Olympic Games!

There are some you like and there are some you don't like as much. For many of us, they are all pretty much the same. In the end, as with so much else in life, it just boils down to whatever floats your boat.

Nobody is ever going to be persuaded otherwise, one way or the other.

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Atlanta’s OC must have been pretty bad if it’s being
compared to London. I never saw it because all those shows before 2004 looked
sort of horribly dated. I tried to watch a few bits on you tube but it’s always
so blurry and bad looking. I was NOT moved by Mohamed Alis lighting and I never
understood WHY it is still referred to as an amazing appearance, but I guess
older people were closer to his exploits than I. How funny that London decided
to prop him up have that lady walk him out in 2012! Now THAT was worse than
Atlanta, disgraceful. Was that for
us Americans?


I’m thinking that lost Atlanta bus driver may have found his
way to London, he was probably the same one that was driving in circles there
before making his way back to the states. But in 2012 you’d think LOCOG might
have provided him a Garmin. ;)

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Now, you're surely not being serious are you?



Atlanta’s OC must have been pretty bad if it’s being
compared to London. I never saw it because all those shows before 2004 looked
sort of horribly dated. I tried to watch a few bits on you tube but it’s always
so blurry and bad looking. I was NOT moved by Mohamed Alis lighting and I never
understood WHY it is still referred to as an amazing appearance, but I guess
older people were closer to his exploits than I. How funny that London decided
to prop him up have that lady walk him out in 2012! Now THAT was worse than
Atlanta, disgraceful. Was that for us Americans?


I’m thinking that lost Atlanta bus driver may have found his
way to London, he was probably the same one that was driving in circles there
before making his way back to the states. But in 2012 you’d think LOCOG might
have provided him a Garmin. ;)

Edited by Mainad
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Atlanta’s OC must have been pretty bad if it’s being

compared to London. I never saw it because all those shows before 2004 looked

sort of horribly dated. I tried to watch a few bits on you tube but it’s always

so blurry and bad looking. I was NOT moved by Mohamed Alis lighting and I never

understood WHY it is still referred to as an amazing appearance, but I guess

older people were closer to his exploits than I. How funny that London decided

to prop him up have that lady walk him out in 2012! Now THAT was worse than

Atlanta, disgraceful. Was that for

us Americans?

I’m thinking that lost Atlanta bus driver may have found his

way to London, he was probably the same one that was driving in circles there

before making his way back to the states. But in 2012 you’d think LOCOG might

have provided him a Garmin. ;)

i do agree that putting ali there was dubious.

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Atlanta’s OC must have been pretty bad if it’s being

compared to London. I never saw it because all those shows before 2004 looked

sort of horribly dated. I tried to watch a few bits on you tube but it’s always

so blurry and bad looking. I was NOT moved by Mohamed Alis lighting and I never

understood WHY it is still referred to as an amazing appearance, but I guess

older people were closer to his exploits than I. How funny that London decided

to prop him up have that lady walk him out in 2012! Now THAT was worse than

Atlanta, disgraceful. Was that for

us Americans?

Same here. I had completely forgotten on purpose Ali's appearance in London. And then you remind of it again, Paul! I BLAME YOU!! (Did it have to do with the Inspire a Generation theme of 2012? :blink: )

But seriously, I cannot fathom for the life of me, the adulation of the Olympic fathers have for this one-time loud mouth/bag of wind, who also forsook his Christian faith for a cult...and OK, I think in recent years, supposedly has done some great charitable things...but it also tied in with his Parkinson's. I wonder if he didn't get struck down by some affliction, if his 'deeds' would've seemed as munificent.

And for the record, his choice as the 1996 Lighter too, was a complete puzzlement for me. But blame that choice on ACOG chairman Billy Payne and NBC honcho Dick Ebersole. One of the other reasons was Ali is a southern boy (Louisville, Ky). I take the choice of Ali in 1996 to task in my book and explain a lot of logistical problems that were caused by him being the choice as final lighter.

Anyway... back to putting this episode in amnesia mode.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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