Saturday, July 28, 2012

Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics

Zany and zesty. Cute and captivating. Silly and sublime. Whimsical and witty. Bonkers and brilliant.The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics was a mix of all these and more. Danny Boyle’s “Isles of Wonder” production was both English charm and Hollywood make-believe, the pastoral merging seamlessly with the digital.

After the spectacular 2008 Beijing Olympics, I wrote: “Imitation, Emerson said, is suicide. London will do well simply by being itself. If it can provide the color, food, music, and all the heartaches, improvisations and exhilarations of a messy democracy, and avoid going into debt, the 30th Olympiad should be a resounding success. The newly-built venues and stadiums must be converted into usable space - housing, office, hospital - within a month after the Olympics is over, with hopefully green technology leading the way. London must show the world that the host city doesn't have to be saddled with white elephants when the athletes and the visitors leave.”

Last night’s opening ceremony certainly gave viewers hope that Britain will come out better and stronger after the Olympics are over, even as the nation currently fights a brutal financial meltdown.

Some of the skits in the ceremony fell flat. I found “Mr. Bean” straining to be funny. It was like tickling someone to get a laugh. In contrast, I was blown away by Queen Elizabeth and Daniel “James Bond” Craig. For a moment I really thought the Queen had been practicing jumping off a helicopter, with 007 offering encouragement. To be able to infuse royalty with eccentric humor is a sign of self-assurance. The history lessons from the land of Shakespeare, Newton and J.K. Rowling were delivered with comedy in mind and so went down easily. And in this digital age, how can a Romeo secure the heart of his Juliet? By recovering Juliet’s lost iPhone, of course, and returning it to her. A kiss then is not just a kiss but a fusion of texting and longing.

The ceremony cost $42 million but by transforming an industrial wasteland in East London into a showcase for the best that England has to offer to the world, the money can be recouped many times over through jobs and housing once the athletic celebration of “faster, higher and stronger” is over. All in all, a "corker!"

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