Jump to content

Opening Ceremony


Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...

Wow. That video was fascinating. By far the most fun I've had watching that segment of the OC. They must have had a whole army of stage managers calling cues (including many voices not heard on that video).

I was shocked that so many things had been left undefined. For example, "Anybody who is available, help clear turf in the middle and do your choreography later." They hadn't determined exactly which group was responsible for which pieces of turf?! That blows my mind.

Another example was, "Everybody doesn't need to use aisle eleven. You can find other ways out." They hadn't determined exactly which group would use which vomitorium?! Really surprising.

I guess that helps explain why this part of the show seemed a bit haphazard and under-choreographed: it was.

Also, I have to say, this is the first I saw of the inflatable yellow submarines. What was Danny Boyle thinking? The Seargeant Peppers were bad enough, but the submarines just seemed totally at odds with the atmosphere of the Industrial Revolution. It's puzzling to me that Boyle would go to such great lengths to create highly detailed, consistent worlds (Green and Pleasant, Pandemonium) and then randomly throw the Beatles into the mix. I really don't get it.

Very cool video though. Thanks a lot for posting.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly, Adrianme doesn't seem to post here anymore - but he was one of the performers in the Pandemonium segment and he could probably tell you how often they rehearsed that segment in fact. It sounded like quite a lot of rehearsals back then, though.

And just because they needed some help clearing the turf in the middle, that doesn't mean necessarily that they hadn't determined which group is responsible for which part of turf. That command rather sounds to me as if something went wrong in the proceedings, maybe the group for the centre turf had unprecedented trouble removing the turf (it got stuck or something). Just like quite many things can go wrong in a rehearsal, it can also go wrong on the "night of the nights".

What's the big deal, anyway? Did we TV viewers or the spectators in the stadium notice? Probably not. I sure didn't - and you yourself seem to have noticed it only now via that video, too. There were so many performers on the stage at that time that you wouldn't have noticed that some had to stop their choreography and help out.

Regarding the Beatles reference in the Pandemonium segment: The Pandemonium segment wasn't about industrialisation only, but about how Great Britain developed from a agricultural country to the industrialised nation we know today. And to that industrialised nation, there belong not only the economical aspects, but also social (hence the suffragettes' march or the Windrush, for example) or cultural (hence the Beatles etc.) aspects. I think that was a great idea actually, even if it wasn't very well-executed (since, especially as TV viewer, one hardly noticed the cultural references which were displayed in the running track area only).

Anyway. What I find nice about those "commanders" is that they are so encouraging - and when the Olympic Rings are finally "welded" together and erupt in fireworks, they say "Look at what you did!". No wonder that (according to the global TV picture) one of the Brunel "look-a-likes" seemed to fight back the tears when he looked towards the rings with his top hat pressed against his heart. That personal and encouraging touch is very much Danny Boyle, according to all what I read from ceremony performers who described him as very chummy and motivating. And that pretty much reconciles me with the flaws in the ceremony. It shows what a humane ceremony it was: Not perfect (as we all are), but charming and pretty authentic.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Olympian, the thing is I did notice. The Pandemonium segment was, as others have described it in this thread, "chaotic." The transition did seem to take a long time and it did not look well-organized. This video just validated my pre-existing view.

When I hear the stage manager saying not once but twice "Any available working men and women help remove turf in the center" it isn't reassuring. There's nothing in the stage manager's directions that would lead one to believe that anything had gone wrong. He was speaking as if it was par for the course. It didn't sound like an unusual request made in an emergency situation. Even if something did go wrong, that is exactly the sort of thing that should have been ironed out in rehearsals. Obviously the removal of turf from the stage was key.

Even if there were some kind of accidental hold up with the turf, that doesn't explain why the stage manager was saying that too many people were exiting up aisle 11. The exits should have been clearly assigned and there shouldn't have been any confusion about who was going where. The fact that the stage manager gave that instruction multiple times just proves that the segment looked disorganized because it was disorganized.

I do agree with your comment about the tone of the stage managers. Both of them were very warm and affirming throughout. I'm sure that tone did translate on the faces of the volunteers and that is a very good thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tricky thing with "Pandemonium" was that some of the stuff they were moving was the real deal- actual living turf for the animals to feed on, and actual corn- and it had rained about half-an-hour earlier. That meant the turf, in particular, was both heavier and slippier. Although each section (or "county") of the performing area had an assigned team, the system was designed to be flexible to cope with such basic physical changes (which would not greatly affect those who only had to shift astroturf).

On the "Aisle eleven" thing; noteworthy that that was right at the end. It looks as though, faced with a 2km trek back to the performers' centre at Eton Manor, people naturally tried to sneak down the aisle which gave them the shortest walk, instead of using the proper one for their position in the stadium. Naughty, but understandable, and not interfering with the actual performance (for which they do seem to have had fairly strict routes).

@Athensfan: "The transition did seem to take a long time"
In perceptual terms, I guess so if you weren't carried along by the music and the unexpected appearances of smokestacks, Suffragettes etc., but in absolute terms, it was about ten minutes (remember, everybody stood still for a whole minute of the quarter-hour performance, and just before the Rings joined, some of the machines which had been installed and set in motion were actually removed again).

@Athensfan: "They must have had a whole army of stage managers calling cues (including many voices not heard on that video). "
My understanding is that there were five radio instruction channels, so quite a small army. You can tell from the video that this channel was giving instructions to all the Working Men and Women (with specialists such as Forgers and Smelters) in "Pandemonium", but there would be separate channels for musicians etc.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love that 'Look what you did!' bit too

I was welling up watching, I cant imagine how amazing that felt after actually being part of it.

That was a lovely post Olympian2004, I couldn't have put it half as well as your description.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still think it was an alright ceremony, certainly would have run the Mr Bean gag a little longer.

Perhaps after the Chariots of Fire bit and the new Mini pops out. We have a disgruntled Mr Bean in his iconic Mini beeping at the back. Annoyed at how the family just parks on the road and such. We see the inside of the vehicle and Mr Beans reactions, claiming he's gotta return his rental suit. Then he speeds off, only to drive erratically heading towards cast members, volunteers, support staff etc, one of which lands on the windshield and asks for an autograph. Along the way it could have easily bumped that sky blue three wheeled car out of the way too.

Just another way to add to this comedic segment, whilst transitioning to the next.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still think it was an alright ceremony, certainly would have run the Mr Bean gag a little longer.

Perhaps after the Chariots of Fire bit and the new Mini pops out. We have a disgruntled Mr Bean in his iconic Mini beeping at the back. Annoyed at how the family just parks on the road and such. We see the inside of the vehicle and Mr Beans reactions, claiming he's gotta return his rental suit. Then he speeds off, only to drive erratically heading towards cast members, volunteers, support staff etc, one of which lands on the windshield and asks for an autograph. Along the way it could have easily bumped that sky blue three wheeled car out of the way too.

Just another way to add to this comedic segment, whilst transitioning to the next.

LD, u're just going to have 2 wait for the next one in 2062 or whenever, to get this in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Olympian, the thing is I did notice. The Pandemonium segment was, as others have described it in this thread, "chaotic." The transition did seem to take a long time and it did not look well-organized. This video just validated my pre-existing view.

When I hear the stage manager saying not once but twice "Any available working men and women help remove turf in the center" it isn't reassuring. There's nothing in the stage manager's directions that would lead one to believe that anything had gone wrong. He was speaking as if it was par for the course. It didn't sound like an unusual request made in an emergency situation. Even if something did go wrong, that is exactly the sort of thing that should have been ironed out in rehearsals. Obviously the removal of turf from the stage was key.

Even if there were some kind of accidental hold up with the turf, that doesn't explain why the stage manager was saying that too many people were exiting up aisle 11. The exits should have been clearly assigned and there shouldn't have been any confusion about who was going where. The fact that the stage manager gave that instruction multiple times just proves that the segment looked disorganized because it was disorganized.

I do agree with your comment about the tone of the stage managers. Both of them were very warm and affirming throughout. I'm sure that tone did translate on the faces of the volunteers and that is a very good thing.

it's like complaining that water is wet. of course it was chaotic, the segment was called 'pandemonium'. do you want then to remove the turf in an organize manner ala bejing......no!

also the callers are there to let the working men and women know if there are problem that the can fix on the stage of play, like helping clear some turf in the middle of the stage that's not their county.

also if your re-watch the video again. the caller is announcing the jersey country still need clearing up in a assertive manner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the segment was called 'pandemonium'. do you want then to remove the turf in an organize manner ala bejing......no!

.

Calling it "Pandemonium" was an excellent ploy to stage a chaotic number, even if there were NO rehearsals at all. After all, it would be in keeping with the theme to have an UNREHEARSED number. :lol: I guess that'll set the bar for future Ceremonies. Never mind rehearsals. Let's call them CHAOS, DISORDER, PANIC, etc., and hopefully, that'll pass for a global show! :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Calling it "Pandemonium" was an excellent ploy to stage a chaotic number, even if there were NO rehearsals at all. After all, it would be in keeping with the theme to have an UNREHEARSED number. :lol: I guess that'll set the bar for future Ceremonies. Never mind rehearsals. Let's call them CHAOS, DISORDER, PANIC, etc., and hopefully, that'll pass for a global show! :wacko:

you always know what to say :-S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's like complaining that water is wet. of course it was chaotic, the segment was called 'pandemonium'. do you want then to remove the turf in an organize manner ala bejing......no!

also the callers are there to let the working men and women know if there are problem that the can fix on the stage of play, like helping clear some turf in the middle of the stage that's not their county.

also if your re-watch the video again. the caller is announcing the jersey country still need clearing up in a assertive manner.

But here's the thing, the Industrial Revolution was a change -- it wasn't the disintegration of order. Even if "Pandemonium" was the aesthetic, there's artful chaos and then there's just a mess. In my opinion, a lot of this was the latter.

Yes, I did hear the bit about "Jersey" needing to pick up the pace. I'm not sure what your point is there. If anything that reinforces the idea that the segment was insufficiently choreographed and rehearsed -- which is exactly the way it looked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Athensfan: "the Industrial Revolution was a change -- it wasn't the disintegration of order."

No, the Industrial Revolution was a huge number of small changes, implemented separately in different parts of the country without Government control- which was pretty much exactly what we saw in "Pandemonium" (and specifically contrasting with what we saw in Beijing). As I noted yesterday, the need for extra help in some areas would be due to the effect on the live turf (specifically mentioned in the radio requests) of the rain just before the spectacle went live.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



My very first impression was that the tv direction didn't do justice to "Pandemonium". Watching videos like the above made me realise that the tv directors did the best they could and actually managed to create a (sort of) cohesion out of this mess... There is nothing wrong with a spectacle which is conceptualized to be chaotic. But this panoramic view doesn't exactly convey a sense of an "organized chaos" or a "charmingly chaotic" scene.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My very first impression was that the tv direction didn't do justice to "Pandemonium". Watching videos like the above made me realise that the tv directors did the best they could and actually managed to create a (sort of) cohesion out of this mess... There is nothing wrong with a spectacle which is conceptualized to be chaotic. But this panoramic view doesn't exactly convey a sense of an "organized chaos" or a "charmingly chaotic" scene.

Or maybe Danny Boyle's vision of "ordered chaos" wasn't SUITED to the TV medium. Boyle is a movie-maker (not that I always liked his films anyway)...but there is a difference when you can do post-production editing to shooting a "live" spectacle. And somebody told me it was Seb Coe who pushed for Danny Boyle because Coe, has an Indian grandparent (or something like that), was so impressed by SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, and told his minions to go after Danny Boyle. And that's where it all started to go wrong...

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

@Athensfan: "the Industrial Revolution was a change -- it wasn't the disintegration of order."

No, the Industrial Revolution was a huge number of small changes, implemented separately in different parts of the country without Government control- which was pretty much exactly what we saw in "Pandemonium" (and specifically contrasting with what we saw in Beijing). As I noted yesterday, the need for extra help in some areas would be due to the effect on the live turf (specifically mentioned in the radio requests) of the rain just before the spectacle went live.

I'm not writing a historical dissertation, I'm talking about theatrical choices. There was confusion over who was removing which pieces of turf and the performers didn't even know which exits to use. You can pretend this is a historically faithful artistic choice, but the truth is that it was simply under-choreographed and under-rehearsed -- which is why it looked sloppy. You can argue "Sloppy is good! That's what we were going for!" But it doesn't impress me at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I' You can argue "Sloppy is good! That's what we were going for!" But it doesn't impress me at all.

And it's NO EXCUSE...especially if you are charging $3,000/ticket. You owe these buyers a UNIQUE, well-crafted show that they came expecting to see. @JMarkSnow -- be glad no one demanded their ducats back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Athensfan: There was confusion over who was removing which pieces of turf and the performers didn't even know which exits to use.

Please stop knocking down straw men. As I have explained, neither of the above statements properly describes the situations seen. And do not ever dare to use any base trick like the following again:
@Athensfan: You can argue "Sloppy is good! That's what we were going for!"
I have never described the performance as "sloppy", and never would. In case you hadn't noticed, the radio team have very little to do throughout this whole section, and spend most of the time silent. That is because everything was thoroughly rehearsed, and because there was enough leeway allowed for changing circumstances like rain.

Which brings me to:
@baron-pierreIV: @JMarkSnow -- be glad no one demanded their ducats back!

Don't you get it? The reason why none of the stadium audience demanded their money back was because, judging from published accounts, they had, almost without exception, one of the best nights of their lives!

You are, however, at least partly right in your earlier statement:
@baron-pierreIV: ...there is a difference when you can do post-production editing to shooting a "live" spectacle.

There certainly is, as the BBC DVD version clearly illustrates. Yet for many many TV viewers, despite the mistakes, this bold experiment worked. Future presentations on a similar scale may well learn from both the good and the bad in the London Opening, and say goodbye to the old "tableaux vivants" which ended up, in Beijing, emphasising synchronised movement over anything else at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark, there were far more than two people on headset giving instruction. The video only recorded two.

You were the one who said the haphazard approach was intentional because the segment was titled "Pandemonium."

I can appreciate your pride in London's Games, but I did feel the OC often looked sloppy and I think the video sheds some light on what contributed to that impression.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I rewatched the video today and even when fully in the know about the "turf trouble", I as spectator in the stadium wouldn't have noticed the problems on the field at all. There was simply going on so many other things with so many other performers on the field that that slab of turf in the middle of the field wasn't very noticeable. The only embarrassing thing would have been if that piece of turf would have been still there at the time the Olympic Rings joined and "exploded". That wasn't the case, so the stage managers' "crisis management" was very successful and neat.

And referring to what you said about the lack of panic in the stage manager's voice, Athensfan: I think he sounded pretty assertive (and also surprised) but yet as calm as I would expect of a professional stage manager in such a situation. If he had shouted: "Oh my God!!! Get your asses up NOW and take out that piece of turf in the middle of the stage QUICKLY!!!!", he would have created real chaos and disorder because that panic would have transferred to the performers as well.

I agree that the "many performers left through the same aisle" flub gives a certain amateurish impression. But 1) we don't even know whether the exit wasn't rehearsed at all - it could have well been that the performers simply were so relieved and elated after the end of their segment that they didn't care a lot about their original instructions anymore; and 2) that shouldn't diminish the success of the actual performance, since the performers' exit is not really a part of the cultural display. And in the end, the fantastic, atmospheric and haunting soundtrack by Underworld for that very segment made up for all (actual or assumed) flubs in that segment. So for me, the Pandemonium segment remains one of the best ceremonial segments in Olympic history and definitely the best one of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And one more thing, adding to what I said about the "turf flub" and the "aisle flub": If you ever performed on a stage in front of even only a few dozen or hundreds of people, you will probably know how nervous you can be as performer. Even if you rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed, it can happen that you flub or at least do something differently as originally rehearsed. I sang in a choir of my school for a couple of years and we did two concerts there. Based on that experience, I can tell you that I committed mistakes of which I had actually thought (or hoped) that I had "rehearsed them away". Such things happen, it's only human. And please show me one opening ceremony in the whole wide world where absolutely no mistakes happen.

Even your favourite opening ceremony in Athens had flubs and human weaknesses, even severe ones: Bjork not being lifted above the athletes, one ribbon tearing already before the "modern Summer Olympic history" runner had crossed it, Ioannis Melissanidis almost stumbling about his own feet with the torch in his hand (just because he thought it would be appropriate to dance and cheer and try to milk the attention for him till the last drop), you name it. And I won't forget what happened to a poor female dancer at the "Love Is in the Air/Strictly Ballroom" segment at Sydney's closing ceremony: While she was swung through the air by her partner, one of her feet hit smack-bang against a camera which had gotten "slightly" too close.

Such things happen. Olympic ceremonies would probably be boring if there wasn't a goof once in a while which shows that even if it's a ceremony for the mythical, "divine" Olympic Games, it's actually a purely humane show.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...