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The Olympic Opening Ceremony And Danny Boyle: A Treat For Film Fans

Posted on Friday July 27, 2012, 12:14 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Olympic Opening Ceremony And Danny Boyle: A Treat For Film Fans

Just a quick word. I was lucky enough to get along to the Olympic opening ceremony rehearsal on Wednesday night, and I want to say a few spoiler-free things about it ahead of tonight's big event. First of all, it looks freakin' amazing. Danny Boyle and his team (including fellow filmmaker Stephen Daldry) have done themselves proud with a ceremony that is spectacular and also surprisingly witty. This is not just a technical, mechanical show that dazzles but has no real oomph, but one that manages to fit in a lot of British quirk, some surprisingly anti-establishment touches, a celebration of people rather than elites and a huge amount of heart. Hopefully that doesn't break the spirit of the message on Wednesday, which was, simply, "save the surprise".

It's also (perhaps unsurprisingly) a ceremony that has a lot to offer film fans, which is a welcome relief given that some among us could hardly give less of a hoot about sport. Seriously, watch it with a film-eye this evening and you'll spot a wealth of film references, movie touches and above all storytelling, which is not an easy thing to do in an arena using a cast of tens of thousands and trying to speak in a language intelligible to the whole world. Boyle's trying to make something authentically British and utterly global at the same time; you can see why they thought a successful film director*, an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire, might be the man for the job. It might also have helped that he's one of the nicest men in show business, that he generally projects an air of unflappability even when faced with extraordinary challenges, and that he has managed to cram personality into a show that can seem glitzy but soulless.

He's also working with a cast of thousands, most of them volunteers brought in for the occasion. Kat Brown, formerly of this parish, is among the performers, and wrote rather beautifully about her experience here (also spoiler-free). A big virtual hand to all of them for the work so far, and a non-threatening break-a-leg for tonight.

I can't say too much more now - and even those who have seen the dress rehearsal haven't seen the whole show, so there will still be surprises for everyone tonight. But even if you wish the Olympics would end just so you don't have to listen to those Boris Johnson public announcements all over London anymore; even if you hate sport and all it stands for, cast an eye at the Ceremony tonight. I think you might enjoy it.

*Incidentally, there were a few links to his stage version of Frankenstein as well. No, no Benedict Cumberbatch naked - you filthy-minded lot.

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Comments

1 rikkie
Posted on Friday July 27, 2012, 14:55
Really looking forward to it, and as long as it doesn't have Boris impishly waving a flag around his head, and Underworld making an appearance then I'll be happy.

Here's hoping the TV experience is as good as being there.

2 loafroaster
Posted on Friday July 27, 2012, 15:21
A thousand vietnamese children swarm the stage!

3 beancounter
Posted on Friday July 27, 2012, 15:43
Thanks Helen. I am now officially excited about watching tonight. Shame I couldn't afford the £2,012 a ticket to actually be there...

4 Helen OHara
Posted on Friday July 27, 2012, 16:22
I believe there were a few cheaper tickets too - they might've started at £20.12 in fact. But any way you look at it, that price is pretty ridonkulous.

5 BatSpider
Posted on Saturday July 28, 2012, 01:40
what an emabarrasing load of crap Danny Boyle put on tonight, but no great surprise as the UK's popular culture/arts went the way of the dodo around the mid-90s. Just recycling the same old tired shit over and over again and losing flavour with each rinse. The Chinese and others will prolly be polite about it as we give them Mr Bean to laugh at again.

6 spamfiend
Posted on Saturday July 28, 2012, 07:39
Unlike BatSpider, I thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremony and whilst some of it was a miss, most of it was a huge hit. The way the stage transformed from Olde English countryside through to the huge industrial chimneys rising into the sky was truly mind blowing.

The only thing that spoilt it for me was that increasingly annoying dinosaur called Paul McCartney at the end. Surely they could have had someone a bit more exciting to perform, and not this guy who plays all the same old tunes with the usual attention seeking whoops and wows.

Overall through the whole thing for me was a great success and showed the world that whilst we might not be your cup of tea, get over it because we are a proud nation indeed

7 bradthunder
Posted on Saturday July 28, 2012, 08:41
The 30th Olympiad Opening Ceremony....owned by Mr Bean. Fact.

8 simonburgess
Posted on Saturday July 28, 2012, 13:08
Making 70 million Brits feel like they've been represented and creating a 2 hour show that 1 billion viewers would all like, was always going to be an impossible task. What one sees as traditional, another sees as stagnant. What one group calls self-deprecation, another calls disrespect.

Danny Boyle had all this stacked against him, trying to create something that worked in the stadium AND on television, but still put on an excellent show.

There will always be people on internet forums who love to moan, but I don't see them offering alternatives. The considered reviews have generally praised Danny's efforts, congratulating him in successfully following China's spectacular but regimented display. He did so by going off in a completely different direction and showing the Brits as ingenious, inventive and idiosyncratic.

Sure, some parts worked better than others. Of course, there are musical choices that were not quite to my personal taste. But overall, I believe he did a brilliant job that few could have equalled. Five stars from me.

9 sowasred2012
Posted on Sunday July 29, 2012, 23:44
Awesome show - I loved it, especially the music, I went and bought the soundtrack as soon as I got home, "And I Will Kiss" by Underworld is absolutely incredible.

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