Isles of Wonder
July 29, 2012 9:27 AM   Subscribe

"Danny created a room where no one was afraid to speak, no one had to stick to their own specialism, no one was afraid of sounding stupid or talking out of turn. He restored us to the people we were before we made career choices – to when we were just wondering." Frank Cottrell Boyce writes about writing the London 2012 opening ceremony. (It's not the first time he's worked with Danny Boyle - they previously collaborated on the lovely children's film Millions.)
posted by mippy (123 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sometimes we exceeded our brief. I remember us discussing whether the ceremony couldn't start all over London and somehow converge on the stadium. I wrote a passionate plea to grow brambles and ivy over the outside of the stadium and create the hanging gardens of Stratford.
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on July 29, 2012


Wow, what a great compliment. I hope someday someone has a reason to say something that nice about me.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:38 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Millions is a lovely film - its Shallow Grave for kids!
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


What Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony said about Britain's cultural landscape

Serious and silly, subversive and mainstream, high and low: Danny Boyle's bonkers Olympics opening ceremony could only have been made by a British artist
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nothing more heartwarming than film industry types patting each other on the back.
posted by Catchfire at 9:46 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm downloading the BBC version of the opening ceremony, to see if their broadcast made the Industrial Revolution segment looked like a tribute to Robber Barons enslaving the working class.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:48 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm still sitting a bit on awe of the sheer audacity and theatricality of that opening ceremony. It seemed to utterly lack pomp and circumstance, yet felt entirely appropriate for both television and those seeing it live. It was silly and surreal and full of magical moments. The parade of nations went by really quickly, probably due to the high-tempo music being played. There was just so much to love about the entire event, even though I still think it's one of the strangest things I've ever watched.
posted by hippybear at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


NHS!
posted by Jehan at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Charlie - is that BBC version available to someone in the US? I went to watch at a friend's house and unfortunately had the world's dumbest cab driver, and I ended up missing everything that happened before the industrial revolution.

That is probably the strangest sentence I'll type today.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


James Bond and Mr. Bean were the only highlights of the Opening Ceremonies. It was a nightmare.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 10:00 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved the middle bit with the dancing kids so much. Clips from Desmonds, the first lesbian kiss on UK TV, Gregory's Girl, Kes, and all those kids looking like they were having the time of their lives. They could have done something horribly pofaced with children's choirs singing Beatles songs, and instead they brought on Dizzee Rascal and celebrated kids snogging, texting, watching TV and dancing. I'm not particularly patriotic but it made me think 'Yeah, being British is ace!'

And Tim Berners Lee made me well up. BOO
posted by mippy at 10:00 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also my mum liked it.
posted by mippy at 10:00 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


You missed the pole dancing.
posted by ntrifle at 10:01 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Dancers!

Also, Kenneth Branagh performs selections from his new DVD, "Kenneth Branagh Shouts The Tempest."




Also also, how can you have a giant house as the central feature for your tribute to pop music, and not use "Our House" by Madness?

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:01 AM on July 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


Those of you outside the UK didn't see the BBC's coverage of Saturday morning, when ceremony participants went home - complete with the volunteer drummers taking home their bucket drums ("I can take it home and plant a tree in it - my Olympic tree!") and even bits of the set they had been given ("This [piece of astroturf] will just cover a patch in my garden! So chuffed!")

So yes, the volunteers in the ceremony appear to have actually had the great time they appeared to be having.
posted by Wylla at 10:05 AM on July 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm downloading the BBC version of the opening ceremony, to see if their broadcast made the Industrial Revolution segment looked like a tribute to Robber Barons enslaving the working class.

Pretty much!
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:09 AM on July 29, 2012


I thought it was a joyful, moving, and frankly unexpected, treat.
posted by ntrifle at 10:09 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought the final torch-lighting was brilliant - letting the honor go to a group of teenage aspiring athletes. That, and seeing the flagbearers pause to let Muhammed Ali hold it for a moment as a way of symbolically letting him carry it to, had me a little choked up.

I am blanking on the name of the Pink Floyd song they played a clip of right after the torch was lit, right before Paul McCartney came in with "In The End"; which song was it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked the torch lighting as well, and the petal design for the Olympic cauldron- it sends a really positive message to the young people:

"Destroy the Triffids. Burn them wherever you find them. Leave none standing."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:14 AM on July 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


charlie don't surf: "I'm downloading the BBC version of the opening ceremony, to see if their broadcast made the Industrial Revolution segment looked like a tribute to Robber Barons enslaving the working class."

I should watch the BBC version. Watching the NBC version I got a vague idea that cool stuff was happening but mostly it was Matt and Meredith doing a commentary track for viewers with severe brain damage and lots and lots of commercial breaks.
posted by octothorpe at 10:14 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am blanking on the name of the Pink Floyd song

Eclipse. A surprising choice but very effective I thought.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:15 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Loved it to bits, a moving, intelligent and wonderfully chaotic depiction of how popular progressive movements have shaped the character of the UK.

Amazing that Boyle (and Mitt Romney's ill judged words) have managed to genuinely create a sense of Olympic pride in a professionally cynical country.
posted by brilliantmistake at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, a lot of the music choices were "surprising but effective." "Heroes" for when the British team was marching in was fitting, and "Come Together" as the traditional "song that reminds us all that peace is a cool thing and stuff" was....puzzling, but sort of fit.

And you really can't put Paul McCartney in a stadium full of people and NOT have him play "Hey Jude."

I loved Danny Boyle's response to Meredith Viera asking how he got the Queen to participate in that James Bond film clip -- he just sort of shrugged and said, "we just asked, and she said sure."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I liked about it was lots of little clues that this was at least in part a recognition of the struggle of the underdog.

K-Bra could have been asked to read one of the straight-out patriotic bits from Shakespeare, but instead he read Caliban's speech from the Tempest.

There was the nod to the Sex Pistol's arrest on the Thames during the 1977 Jubilee, there were the suffragettes and the Jarrow marchers, the under-attack NHS, the arrival of the Windrush, the lesbian kiss from Brookside, sick kids having nightmares etc.

I'm really not quite sure how it got past Cameron. He must not have been paying attention.
posted by Summer at 10:25 AM on July 29, 2012 [18 favorites]


"I'm downloading the BBC version of the opening ceremony, to see if their broadcast made the Industrial Revolution segment looked like a tribute to Robber Barons enslaving the working class."

I was also wondering about this, because that's what it looked like from home. I'm a cynical curmudgeon but enjoyed the decision to go with the young atheletes for the final flame carriers and have the stadium builders there to cheer them on. Would have enjoyed seeing it where you could see all the countries coming in equally and the 7/7 tribute instead of doofy old Phelps. As much as he's fine it was clearly "hey something is going on there, hey..." and lord love the dorks at NBC who credited Boyle for "not needing much editing" Indeed!

It's a little amazing that more of this didn't leak before it was live. And in the US it was nice to be able to read along with some of it [from people who had seen it hours earlier] so we'd have an idea of what was going on that wasn't just Matt/Meredith.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


And you really can't put Paul McCartney in a stadium full of people and NOT have him play "Hey Jude."

I often dream of a world where there has never been a Sir Paul McCartney. They should have put him in the Robber Baron sketch.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just like in real life, it's easiest if you pretend you didn't see it.
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:29 AM on July 29, 2012


Danny Boyle has excellent taste in music, I know this because it 99% matches my own.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


It says something about the boldness of the show that it made Sir Paul doing "Hey Jude" seem uninspired and pedestrian, if only because we'd seen it before and all knew how the schtick went ("Just the mennn!"). Sir Paul is tough to upstage.

Not everything worked, but the moments that worked made me tear up, and there were many of them. It was a creative work, a work of boldness, and not a work written by a committee.

I say this as a Canadian still smarting from the hot mess of the 2010 Vancouver opening ceremonies, for which we hired an Australian named David Atkins, "CEO of David Atkins Enterprises, a major-events production company." It was competently produced (except for the national embarrassment of a hydraulic failure in the torch at the critical moment), but felt like it had been put together by people reading Canada's Wikipedia page and trying to give every stakeholder group its five minutes.

Boyle, on the other hand, just put on one hell of a show.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:32 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be fair to Danny Boyle's vision of the Industrial Revolution, I think they had to cut the bit where the Ents break the dam on the river Isen because of time constraints.

Also, is it Mary Poppinses, or Marys Poppins?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:32 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


the first lesbian kiss on UK TV

Actually not the first lesbian kiss on UK TV but the first one broadcast as suitable for all audiences i.e. presented as normal family entertainment viewing.
So that's even better
posted by Bwithh at 10:33 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, how dare the writer of several of the greatest songs of the last century have a large amount of money! What an asshole!
posted by Etrigan at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here's the scene-by-scene of the opening ceremony for people who are interested. The "abide with me" bit is the part we didn't see in the televised version in the US.
posted by jessamyn at 10:36 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm curious about the commentary thing; it sounds like the NBC broadcast was predictably full of dumb color throughout, and commercial breaks, but the copy I got from a friend last night was totally commentary free throughout despite occasionally letting us know via caption who the three commentators were. Did some thoughtful pirate strip the BBC commentary track from that before putting it out on the tubes?
posted by cortex at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2012


Also, is it Mary Poppinses, or Marys Poppins?

Mary Poppini
posted by hippybear at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm curious about the commentary thing; it sounds like the NBC broadcast was predictably full of dumb color throughout, and commercial breaks, but the copy I got from a friend last night was totally commentary free throughout despite occasionally letting us know via caption who the three commentators were. Did some thoughtful pirate strip the BBC commentary track from that before putting it out on the tubes?

The BBC, to their credit, released both the commentary and commentary-free versions on iPlayer.
posted by jaduncan at 10:39 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, is it Mary Poppinses, or Marys Poppins?

Poppinses? What is a Poppinses? Precious.
posted by MUD at 10:49 AM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I loved the Opening Ceremony. Full stop. Louder than War's Jon Robb puts it better than I could:

.. this was about as punk rock as it gets. That is punk rock as it was in the first place – a punk rock of big gestures, surreal art, edgy music and a powerful message that jolted you awake. Taking the message to heart of the establishment. (..) The Queen acting in a mind blowing surreal play that made a powerful political statement from industrial revolution to, apparently during the Emilie Sande’s performance of the FA cup favourite Abide With Me, there were 96 – note, 96 – dancers, (a reference to the Hillsborough 96..).

..

In your magic event Danny [Boyle] you managed to celebrate all those things that put the Great in Britain like the NHS and our generous spirit that welcomes people and culture. You incorporated our wonky history without the usual triumphalism – a history of normal people doing great things and not just the history of kings and queens and empire. You got CND symbol into a dance sequence and celebrated the way that more than any other country in the world we can soak up waves of immigration and ideas and make them all feel British.

..

The soundtrack was stunning. It was to hear the Clash’s apocalyptic London Calling – an anti nuclear war song blasting out was quite emotional and then the Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant blasted at high decibel as the Queen sat there quite safe in the hands of James Bond was pretty surreal. The Queen becoming a Bond girl for the night in the highlight sketch of the whole thing.


I saw a list of the soundtrack for the Ceremony. Due to time constraints we missed out on Doctor Who, Monty Python and .. I am giggling with disbelief at Boyle's audacity .. Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs' 2004 hit "I Predict A Riot". I Predict A Riot .. one year after the London riots?! I still cannot belief he got Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" (the unedited version!) into the ceremony nor that he had the guts to have Pet Shop Boys playing as countries that ban homosexuality marched into the stadium.
posted by kariebookish at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


Interesting to see the contrast. Most of the people I've chatted with about it said "meh" and switched them off after 5-10 minutes.

Although it was worth it to bring about this meme.
posted by Decimask at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm curious about the commentary thing; it sounds like the NBC broadcast was predictably full of dumb color throughout
"Tim being Englishman Tim-Berners Lee... if you haven't heard of him, [laugh], we haven't either."
posted by fullerine at 10:53 AM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Look it up on the web you donkey fucks!"
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Tim being Englishman Tim-Berners Lee... if you haven't heard of him, [laugh], we haven't either."

It's nice to be reminded that there is always someone more incompetent to do their job than you are, at least...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The music sphere has all been a bit excited about some of the music used in the ceremony, including stuff by Fuck Buttons. Carefully censored in the media guide Jessamyn links to...
posted by Helga-woo at 10:57 AM on July 29, 2012


The whole thing was fantastic. One of the best articles about it was from, of all, places, Sports Illustrated:
With The Queen in the house, we heard music from the Sex Pistols, the same band whose God Save the Queen was banned by the BBC. Boyle meant for us to take to heart that line from The Tempest, read early in the evening by Kenneth Branagh: "Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises." On these isles of wonder, tumult is a good thing.
The Olympics, of course, have a long and troubling history with protest and dissent. The Games have mostly been hostile to them. Showing in other parts of London right now are two productions of a much more modest scale, each of which speaks to this. One is a documentary called Salute, which tells not only of black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were banned from the Olympic movement for raising fists on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, but also of the white Australian silver medalist, Peter Norman, who got similar treatment for wearing a badge, in solidarity with Smith and Carlos, because he objected to the treatment of Aborigines in his own country. (Smith and Carlos served as pallbearers at Norman's funeral in 2006.)
The other, a play called 1936, was written by former British Olympic track coach Tom McNab. It makes the case that history would have followed a different course if the Olympic movement had stood up to Hitler before he turned the Berlin Games into the propaganda exercise that helped consolidate his power. Olympic blazer-wearer Avery Brundage, so appalled by the Mexico City protest years later, did all he could to suppress any disapproval of the Nazi regime, much less support organizers of a U.S. boycott.
Even today, you can't wear a Che Guevara or Jean-Marie Le Pen t-shirt into an Olympic venue. The sole instance in which the Olympic movement has stood up for protest and dissent was its shunning of South Africa's apartheid regime.
So all props to Boyle, the son of a boiler stoker and a school lunch lady, who lives in Tower Hamlets, one of the East London communities adjacent to the stadium where he let loose his colors and sounds on the world.
Somewhere in the cacophony of last night, during what might have been the world's largest Twitter storm, this nugget emerged: Hey Jude was No. 1 on the charts the day Smith and Carlos raised their fists -- and that single's B-side was Revolution.
To speak one's mind or assert one's rights is as irrepressible a human instinct as running or jumping. Of that, let us be not afeared.


I also loved the fact that the design of the house which featured was a direct visual reference to the one which appeared in two decades' worth of cold war nuclear horror-era Protect And Survive pamphlets and films.

On preview:
kariebookish, that's a great article from John Robb. I didn't know about the 96 dancers during Abide With Me; what a beautiful, subtle reference that is to yet another group of people who have been so shamefully treated by the British establishment for the past 23 years.
posted by Len at 11:01 AM on July 29, 2012 [18 favorites]


I was working an event during the opening ceremonies, and was fine with that. The crazy-ass commercialism of the games, the hopelessly hokey coverage, lack of broadcast reception, and my own indifference to sports all together made the decision to more or less ignore the games a no-brainer. This all makes me want to track it down and watch it, which says something.

...Did Boyle really manage to balance pride, hope, and idealism while acknowledging ugly truths about the past through good humor? Because that's what it sounds like here, and that sounds AWESOME.
posted by smirkette at 11:07 AM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Smirkette, he did manage all that but, before you get your hopes up, he did so within the context of an Olympic opening ceremony so, disarmingly moving as it sometimes is, there is still a great deal of tacky nonsense. Until the rings are forged, the dancing Brunels reminded me of Electric Six's Gay Bar video and I was ready to be snarkily dismissive of the whole endeavour but he turned it around (or, rather, way up) and my residual cynicism had entirely vanished by the end.
posted by steganographia at 11:14 AM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is still part of what makes it awesome.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on July 29, 2012


I believe NBC cut the arrival of the Empire Windrush, the boat that brought the first wave of Carribbean immigration to the UK (or as i knew it as a child, 'the boat from Desmonds').

Actually not the first lesbian kiss on UK TV but the first one broadcast as suitable for all audiences i.e. presented as normal family entertainment viewing.
So that's even better

Fun fact: the first gay kiss on a UK TV drama was on children's teatime soap Byker Grove.
posted by mippy at 11:17 AM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I thought it was kitsch. Well meaning, but kitsch.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:19 AM on July 29, 2012


The astonishing thing about NBC's version is it didn't go out live. I don't think much was released to the press beforehand, but if my experience in working for live TV subtitling for the BBC is anything to go by, there would have been a script or equivalent to let subtitlers/commentators know what's likely to pop up and what they might have to prep in terms of pronunciaton or commentary info. It's hard, things get missed, but it's the only way to do it.

The NBC version was broadcast after the ceremony ended. Why weren't they given pass notes on what they were paid to describe? I don't want to believe US broadcasting is that incompetent, but it's the minimum of effort that would be put in for, I dunno, shinty on BBC Alba.
posted by mippy at 11:22 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also loved the fact that the design of the house which featured was a direct visual reference to the one which appeared in two decades' worth of cold war nuclear horror-era Protect And Survive pamphlets and films.

YES. I knew I knew it from somewhere.

Actually not the first lesbian kiss on UK TV

First lesbian kiss on Saudi tv now.

I thought it was kitsch. Well meaning, but kitsch.

Duh. Nobody does kitsch better than the British.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Most of the people I've chatted with about it said "meh" and switched them off after 5-10 minutes.

Yeah, that would be me.

that's a great article from John Robb.

I hated the John Robb article as well. Did I really live through those countercultural movements, only to watch them eventually reduced to consumer spectacle for grannies and housewives on the BBC, stripped of all their political power and meaning?

Why yes, I did.

That said, I was grateful for Robb's link to this piece in the said article.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:24 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did I really live through those countercultural movements, only to watch them eventually reduced to consumer spectacle for grannies and housewives on the BBC

Sexist. And didn't punk start out as a desparate attempt by Malcolm McLaren to finally shift some of his naff bondage gear anyway?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:26 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Daily Mail, as usual, fuck things up in their own spectacular racist way. An article titled "The NHS did not deserve to be so disgracefully glorified in this bonanza of left-wing propaganda" –which is now a 404 on the Mail's website – originally featured the following paragraph:
"This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.
Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer. The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London. This multicultural equality agenda was so staged it was painful to watch." [emphasis mine]
It has now been amended to the following, with no note or acknowledgement of the editing:
"This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but such set-ups are simply not the ‘norm’ in any part of the country. So why was it portrayed like this and given such prominence? If it was intended to be something that we can celebrate, that two people with different colour skin and different cultural heritages can live harmoniously together, then it deserves praise.
But what will be disturbing to many people is top-down political manipulation – whether consciously or unthinkingly – at a major sporting event."
They really are fucking loathsome.
posted by Len at 11:38 AM on July 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also, is it Mary Poppinses, or Marys Poppins?

well, if you consider The New Yorker any sort of grammatical authority, it's Mary Poppinses:
The same was true of the Childcatcher—a figure who first appeared in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968), went straight to the core of dread in every British child, and has never relinquished his spot on that terrible podium. (The movie was written, in part, by Roald Dahl, adapting the book by Ian Fleming. More connections.) Last night, he was played live, complete with his carriage-cage, by a capering, black-clad figure, who ticked all the boxes except the one that matters: he was not frightening. To be fair, we only saw the fellow for a few instants, and he hardly had the place to himself, being encircled by thousands of larking revelers doing something else entirely; yet there was no denying one’s memory of Robert Helpmann, the great Australian dancer and choreographer who bestrode classical ballet in the mid-twentieth century, and whose every furtive, pointed step, as the Childcatcher in that film, spelled malice and ruined dreams. This prompts the question: can a reënactment of a movie, in however splendid a setting, hope to revive the precision with which the original wrought its magic?

“Yes,” will be the reply from the hundreds of millions who watched a score of Mary Poppinses drift down from the heavens, bearing lit umbrellas, to chase and chivvy away the forces of darkness. That was, as Mary used to describe herself, Practically Perfect in Every Way, and I must be alone—or at least Impractically Grudging in Every Way—in my reverential wish that Julie Andrews could have been cajoled, last night, to join the throng in person. Who else, when you think about it, could have got the call?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:40 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason is works is cause I can;t imagine another country doing something so earnestly campy and wink-wink nationalistic while also being oddly political and silly and full of funny hats. I'm trying to imagine an American version (which would be kitsch and focused grouped and it would be superheroes, if they get children's lit we get superheros) and I keep going back to Madonna's Superbowl Valhalla Rally and how the whole thing would be sleek and scary and bombastic and devoid of anything more controversial then Up With People.
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, and another thing: having Mike Oldfield play a section of Tubular Bells as the introduction to the segment which celebrated the NHS was genius. Tubular Bells, famously, was the first release on Richard Branson's Virgin Records; later, Branson and Oldfield fell out in spectacular fashion. And Virgin, these days, is one of the companies who are going to "provide" "services" in the all new totally-privatised-but-this-is-not-privatisation-honest-guv NHS.
posted by Len at 12:00 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hated the John Robb article as well. Did I really live through those countercultural movements, only to watch them eventually reduced to consumer spectacle for grannies and housewives on the BBC, stripped of all their political power and meaning?

Oh please. What would you have preferred - that we got a pageant of purple-tinged pomp and circumstance that pretended to represent us all? Haven't we had enough of that?

Why are they stripped of their power and meaning when they're being celebrated in front of the largest audience in the world? They certainly weren't stripped of meaning for me. In fact the new context gave them more meaning.
posted by Summer at 12:01 PM on July 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


So much hate for the Dancing Brunels! I loved them so much that I want to hire them to follow me around 24/7, Greek-chorus style, overseeing things and looking dapper and periodically interpretively dancing about industrialization.

My husband and I (Americans) thought it was very, very British, mostly in a good way. Even the parts that lost our interest (the social media love story bit ... I get what they were doing, but I got bored) we saw what they were going for and how it fit and reflected Britain. The only bits I didn't like were that the industrialization went on way too long (yeah, they had to remove the sod, but it took forever); the Mr. Bean bit carrying through the whole of Chariots of Fire (too much for me); and the GIANT CREEPY BABY which was VERY VERY WRONG.

I liked that the big stars looked really excited to be there (especially Kenneth Branagh and Paul McCartney and David Beckham, they all looked just gleeful); I loved that the flame entered through the stadium builders; I loved that it was so splendidly eccentric; we thought it was very game of the Queen to do the silly Bond bit. We also totally loved "Hey Jude" because both my tiny children figured out how to sing along very quickly: "nanananananananananananana .... nanananananananananana." It was adorable. All day today my one-year-old has been saying "nananananana" and then looking at you expectantly until you shout, "Hey Jude!"

But oh yeah, that was so Tolkein-influenced it was crazy. (Also we were kind-of waiting for Aslan to come in with the Poppinses.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:45 PM on July 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I keep going back to Madonna's Superbowl Valhalla Rally and how the whole thing would be sleek and scary and bombastic and devoid of anything more controversial then Up With People.

It *was* the gayest thing ever slap bang in the middle of machofest.

But yeah, I can't imagine the American equivalent of this happening, ever.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2012


(but who knows, maybe you too will chill out and be less up yourselves post-Empire.)
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


noted
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


But oh yeah, that was so Tolkein-influenced it was crazy. (Also we were kind-of waiting for Aslan to come in with the Poppinses.)

I was certain a floppy-haired Doctor would've come out and point his screwdriver at Voldy cause, you know, wands.
posted by The Whelk at 12:52 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Noted

"I rocked fretful baby gods to sleep before time started, and I am companion to the women who paste up the stars. The quarters of the earth are bound unto my compass. I have taken tea with earth quakes. I know what the bee knows... and you really are a dreadful little boy. "
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I also loved the fact that the design of the house which featured was a direct visual reference to the one which appeared in two decades' worth of cold war nuclear horror-era Protect And Survive pamphlets and films.

That theory ties in rather nicely with one of the first songs being Enola Gay (the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima), during which the dancers played a videogame that destroyed the house.
posted by grahamparks at 1:24 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Everybody in my extended family thought the opening ceremony was fantastic. Completely bonkers, but fantastic.

I loved that it was so completely self-assured & unapologetic. I loved that it was a spectacle on the largest sale, but at the same time littered with in-jokes and asides that only the British will probably ever get. I loved that Danny Boyle was brave enough to insert humour and self-deprecation into an event that puts Britain front and centre before hundreds of millions of people around the world.

I loved that it embraced everything that Britain should be proud of: an industrial revolution that changed the world & the digital revolution who's ramifications are still unfolding before us. I loved that Danny Boyle was willing to put one of the things the British hold dear on show: the availability of healthcare for all in the form of the NHS, and say "Yes, we are proud of this, this is something worth celebrating". I loved the celebration of British culture, music and arts: all done without self-aggrandising bombast.

The Olympic bits of the ceremony can go hang as far as I'm concerned. This was a love song to Britain for and by the British. We just let the rest of you watch it.
posted by pharm at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Mary Poppini

Poppini is actually exactly what I once relentlessly chanted at a very confused and eventually distraught babysitter who later had it explained to her that it was my way of pronouncing my favorite movie. I was a little tick but I had excellent taste in movies
posted by villanelles at dawn at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]




He really didn't have to be out to make a point - all of the things he showed the word are as natural a thing for Britons to be proud of as flags and eagles are for Americans.

Though that in itself may be a point.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone said on twitter, I've not been this proud to be British since David Blaine came to do his thing over the Thames and we threw sausages at him.

I was dreading it at first... the lead up to the Olympics has been 'It's a disaster!' all over the press and the 'Telly Tubbies' green thing did not look promising. But then Frank Harper was doing the pre-concert and I thought 'this is interesting'... and then it kicked off.

There were some moments of genuine emotion (the kids singing the different national anthems of the home countries for a start - and they even managed to make God Save The Queen a non-dirge)

Of course the general 'fuck the Tories' theme was epic and the 'we had the industrial revolution, one of us invented the interweb and we gave the world a shit-ton of great films and music' well... proud/British as I said before.

The cauldren was awesome too and almost makes up for the crappy logo and font

Still boo re the empty seats... but that's the corporate bastards for you.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:53 PM on July 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


/considers the possibility that Morlocks make clocks for far little hobbitses.
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on July 29, 2012


Oh and that we can take the piss out of ourselves. That too.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:56 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


From an official Conservative Party perspective, the NHS sequence would be not controversial and something to support (and assumptions that the NHS sequence was inherently anti-Tory seen as showing the instinctive anti-Tory bias of some media commentators).
The official Conservative Party line is that the NHS is one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century and Labour screwed it up. Of course, the opposition will say that the Tory way of saving the NHS is the equivalent of destroying a village in order to save it, but the broad idea of the NHS is so popular in Britain that no major political party will attack it. (I was waiting for Mitt Romney to make some kind of healthcare remark to complete the British leg of his worldwide gaffe tour)
posted by Bwithh at 1:57 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand destroying the NHS is an unstated Tory /LibDem goal and every fucker knows it.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bwithh: From an official Conservative Party perspective, the NHS sequence would be not controversial and something to support

Yeah, given that Cameron spent most of the last election campaign banging on about how much he loved the NHS, and how great it was when it came to treating his disabled son who subsequently died, and how he was never going to cut its budget, the ire from the right wing about that bit of the ceremony is particularly ironic. The NHS, apparently, is a fine political football when you're up for election; dare to celebrate its long and storied history, however, and you're a Trotskyite revolutionary.
posted by Len at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


A question -

When there were all those club kids going on their Journey Through British Pop, why did they all suddenly stop and start singing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" when the boy and girl kissed for the first time? I wasn't sure if there was some reference I was missing or if it was just....odd.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:07 PM on July 29, 2012


and they even managed to make God Save The Queen a non-dirge

I'm glad they chose one of the lyrics that includes the sentiment "Make her worthy of all this nonsense as well":
May she defend our laws
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen

posted by Etrigan at 2:10 PM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: When there were all those club kids going on their Journey Through British Pop, why did they all suddenly stop and start singing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" when the boy and girl kissed for the first time?

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles is well known as a song sung by supporters of West Ham United who, despite their name, are a football team based in East London, where the Olympics are happening.
posted by Len at 2:11 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bwithh: "From an official Conservative Party perspective, the NHS sequence would be not controversial and something to support (and assumptions that the NHS sequence was inherently anti-Tory seen as showing the instinctive anti-Tory bias of some media commentators)."

The headbangers on the right on the other hand really did see the NHS segment as 'lefty propaganda'. Of course, being completely out of touch with the British mainstream is precisely what has kept them out of exclusive power for 20 years...old habits still die hard clearly.
posted by pharm at 2:12 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh. For a second there I was thinking "they only played two seconds of it".
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on July 29, 2012


From jessamyn's link earlier:
The song ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ debuted on Broadway in 1918. In England it has become linked with fans of West Ham United Football Club, based in east London.
posted by hippybear at 2:12 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


IFBB done roight.
posted by maudlin at 2:13 PM on July 29, 2012


/considers the possibility that Morlocks make clocks for far little hobbitses.

How would they deliver the clocks if the hobbits are far away?
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on July 29, 2012


Is there anywhere around I can easily download the BBC coverage of the Ceremony? I was out unfortunately and couldn't watch it - but would love to see Boyle's work as I am a massive fan.
posted by chris88 at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2012


chris88: "Is there anywhere around I can easily download the BBC coverage of the Ceremony?"

If you're in the UK, it's on iPlayer. If not, well if you channel your inner Blackbeard I can pretty much guarantee you'll find a host of sources.
posted by pharm at 2:22 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thankyou Pharm. Being an Australian and not being able to access iPlayer, I may have to become Edward Teach for a little while.

Quite appropriate, given he was English and all.
posted by chris88 at 2:33 PM on July 29, 2012


Alternatively, a VPN host in the UK is relatively cheap & get_iplayer is free. Pay your dues in BBC Enterprises DVDs or something.
posted by pharm at 2:44 PM on July 29, 2012


Interesting to see the contrast. Most of the people I've chatted with about it said "meh" and switched them off after 5-10 minutes.

Well, I'm not surprised that people who switched off after 5-10 minutes would have a different perspective. In the group I was with, there was general mockery and eye rolling at the whole "green and pleasant land" theme at the beginning. It was around the time that the soot-belching smokestacks burst through the rolling hills that we started to get the feeling that maybe we had misjudged it a bit. In the end, while some parts worked better than others, I thought it was very well done overall.
posted by klausness at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there a source for listing the songs played during the parade of nations? I went through the program book but all the tunes were not listed.
posted by jadepearl at 2:52 PM on July 29, 2012


There's a soundtrack album on iTunes jadepearl. Which appears to have the tracks I remember recognising at least.
posted by pharm at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2012


There's a tracklisting up on Underworld's site
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was great, and glad to see some commentary from the creators coming out. They did an amazing job. Loved this bit of the linked article:
We never imagined the power of the volunteers. They were creative, courageous, convivial, generous. The press was full of stories of the greed and incompetence of our leaders, but our studio was full of people doing things brilliantly for nothing – for the hell of it, for London, for their country, for each other.

On a night of incredible rain, Danny got up and said: "I can't bear to ask you this but Rick needs to record a massive shout. Can some of you stay behind?" Hundreds stayed behind. When the press was trying to get some hint of what the ceremony would be like, they didn't breathe a word. Tens of thousands saw the technical rehearsals.

Danny could have asked for camera phones to be banned from the stadium or for people to sign confidentiality agreements. Instead he asked people nicely to save the surprise. "The volunteers are the best of us," he said. "This show belongs to them. This country belongs to them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:24 PM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


I maybe have a bit too much of that album already to buy it, but it's tempting.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2012


It was the flag bit that somehow got dust in my eye - I was literally staring at the TV open-mouthed -carried by Daniel Barenboim, Sally Becker, Shami Chakrabati, Leymah Gbowee, Haile Gebrselassie, Doreen Lawrence OBE, Ban Ki-moon and Marina Silva. If you don't recognise a name, Google it.
posted by Grangousier at 3:44 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was pretty olymposkeptic (see my comment history) but I was looking forward to the ceremony because I like Danny Boyle and because all the #savethesecret people said it was good.

I really liked the ceremony - presenting the Industrial Revolution as both something epic and something terrible. Having a whole section for the NHS, and the 'Frankie and June Say Thanks Tim' social-media bit devoted to Tim Berners-Lee* was brilliant. I totally lost it when the panning-back camera revealed Rowan Atkinson on keyboards.

The naff bits (putting up the olympic flag, reading the oath of 'olympism', speeches etc) were the bits that the IOC mandate as _having_ to be in the ceremony.

The parade of nations was great (imagine how much more amazing those parades would have been 30 years ago when people travelled/internetted less). And the torch was great.

In the end I was left thinking - "That was a beautiful spectacle, ending with a lovely tribute to world togetherness etc. Shame its all about sport rather than something I'm actually interested in" ... as in, to me, it seemed _too_ epic to just be about a running and jumping competition. Why don't we have ceremonies like this to celebrate other things, like science, or literature, or just the fact the we exist at all? (I suppose the millenium celebrations were celebrating that, which is why they were great)

And that line of thinking - 'why such a large tribute to sport instead of something really important?' led me to "get" sport for the first time. I get it now. Humans like to play games. Sport is just play. But play boosted and codified and regulated for the world stage. We, as a species, like to play, and when we play big it ends up looking like the olympics.

So I guess I'm a bit of a convert now. Still dont like all the sponsorship nonsense, but at least they kept that out of the ceremony.

* Tim Berners-Lee appeared with his original NeXTcube and sent this tweet just before he appeared
posted by memebake at 3:48 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


(to clarify: liked who was carrying the flag, but didn't like the presentation of it)
posted by memebake at 3:50 PM on July 29, 2012


Also, I so teared up when Tim Berners-Lee stood onstage before a cheering arena. How fitting. And the lit up letters of "This is for everyone"... breathtaking.

It's underlined in the welcoming quote from Boyle in the Media Guide to the ceremony too:
Some countries have revolutions that change their whole nation. Britain had a revolution that changed the whole world. The Industrial Revolution rebooted human existence. Nothing would ever be the same again.

At the end of the 20th century, the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee gave the world a gift that would change things every bit as radically as the steam engine – the World Wide Web. This, he said, is for everyone.

‘This is for everyone’ is the theme of the Opening Ceremony – a celebration of the creativity, exuberance and, above all, the generosity of the British people.

There are no spectators. Everyone in the Stadium will be part of the magic. We’re here to celebrate the achievements of the British people and to do that we’ve put as many British people as we possibly can into the show. The volunteer dancers in one of our most spectacular sequences have been recruited from the National Health Service.

The Ceremony will take us through great revolutions in British society – the Industrial Revolution, the revolution of social attitudes that began in the 1960s and the digital revolution through which we’re living now.

Woven through it all, there runs a golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of a better world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication.

We can build Jerusalem. And it will be for everyone.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:03 PM on July 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


I had nothing but cynicism for the olympics before the ceremony - by the end of it all my natural snark was stripped away. A friend who saw it in a pub said that during the NHS sequence the entire bar burst out into spontaneous cheering and weeping.

I has assumed that the opening ceremony was going to be all bombast and pomp - instead it was a wonderfully shambolic celebration of generosity and quotidian humanity. It seemed to come from a different time - a time when people still had optimism and faith in the essential goodness of society. I loved that it was often so deliberately messy and amateurish - in some ways feeling like a show put on for an enormous village fete. The whole piece seemed to be about humbleness, generosity and togetherness rather than the pompous and heroic nonsense that these kind of things usually inspire. It perfectly balanced the irony of putting on a huge spectacle about a small island - it managed to be big and very modest at the same time, which is quite a feat. The opening act could have done with a little more acknowledgement of our problematic colonial history, which would have made it even more powerful, I think. Apart from that, lovely. Even the Paul McCartney bit was a great idea - having the ceremony close with 70000 people all singing together - it just wasn't a good idea to get Paul McCartney to perform it.

I loved that the images chosen to represent britain weren't the usual polished cliches, but were the things that we are actually proud of - a culture that produced suffragettes, Jarrow marchers, the NHS, Tim Berners Lee, the Sex Pistols etc. I love that my country is being represented to the world as a country not afraid to show women kissing on the TV, not afraid to laugh at its pretentions of global importance, and not afraid to put on an olympic ceremony almost entirely devoid of "heroism". I love that Danny Boyle reminded Britain that it was once a country strong enough and hopeful enough to believe it could build a society where people cared for each other, where "socialism" wasn't considered a pejorative word.
posted by silence at 4:03 PM on July 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Taking a look at both the underworld and itunes listing it is not complete. I mean that it has the official music but not all the music played such as, Pink Floyd nor all the pieces during the time sequence.
posted by jadepearl at 5:03 PM on July 29, 2012


The Bugle's Andy Zaltzman gives his take on the opening ceremony in the first of his Olympics micro-podcasts.
posted by Kattullus at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that picture on p33 ( PDF page 35) of the media guide that Jessamyn linked to is a subtle Boylesian pro-democracy jab at North Korean politics
posted by Bwithh at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2012


Wikipedia notes that the 7/7 terrorist attacks happened the day after the 2012 Olympics were awarded to London in 2005. I'd forgotten that
posted by Bwithh at 6:34 PM on July 29, 2012




Oh, also- the Welsh kids totally won National Anthem Challenge.

"Cymru: Busting Out Close Harmony On Your Ass Since 1284."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:03 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


homunculus: "How would they deliver the clocks if the hobbits are far away?"

Duh. Giant eagles summoned by Gandalf.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:29 PM on July 29, 2012


Four things that stood out for me:

a) While the Queen and James Bond routine was subversive in itself, I thought the real subversion here was "Pandemonium", that rural paradise-to-industrial-heartland tableau; it has to be one of the best live mass-display performances I've ever seen. I saw this as an even-handed makes meta-commentary on the modern Olympics movement, that it was essentially forged that Victorian / Edwardian era, actually sharing quite a few of that era's non-progressive, non-egalitarian leanings; it quite subtly thumbs its nose at the top-down, rulers-imposed sort of an experience that the Olympics is in reality.

b) The Great Ormond Street Hospital was rightly seen as an ode to NHS, but it has multiple themes going; it's actually a highly stylized take on British children's literature, isn't it. That was quite evocative of all those British children's musicals I grew up on, not just Mary Poppins and Peter Pan and the lot, but also recent ones such as Mathilda.

c) I think the absolute creative brilliance here is that it's so multi-layered; every single tableau, performance and aspect has so many different things going on at the same time. It's a bit like how I think of London, really, that every single locality there has so many _things_ at the same time. (So Brick Lane is the artist, Jewish, Bangladeshi *and* yuppie quarter, for instance) It all builds up to one single coherent whole, which is something I haven't seen in any opening ceremony before. Brilliant, just brilliant.

d) Just this, over and over: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon when the Olympic torch was lit. DSoM man. Wow. Still get chills when I think about it. And this from someone who's been rank cynical about the Olympic "spirit", the torch and all that nonsense, even if I had been rooting for individual sportspeople.
posted by the cydonian at 8:46 PM on July 29, 2012 [9 favorites]




I hadn't watched an opening ceremony since Atlanta, and wasn't going to watch this one, but everyone was 'but it is so amazing, you must!' so thanks to BBC iPlayer I did.
While some of it was very good, I just wasn't overwhelmed. Yes, great that it didn't rely on Shakespeare/Tudors/pageantry it could have, and great to hear some of the music choices, but I actually didn't find the whole musical section all that great. Tim Berners-Lee was a fantastic inclusion though.
posted by Megami at 2:25 AM on July 30, 2012


I'm a Londoner, and we're more cynical about the Olympics than anyone, obviously... but you would have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy some of that show.

I saw it with a couple of dozen Brit adults and kids, and our mouths just kept falling open, again and again.

The show as a whole - kitsch, witty, wistful, sad, intelligent, daft, childish, yet moving - deserves a place in the tradition of British psychedelia from Lewis Carroll to Pink Floyd.
posted by colie at 2:40 AM on July 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Subversive? Shambolic? Please. It was a slick and successful exercise in national branding. Everyone loved it because it portrayed the British the way they like to see themselves: playful, creative, eccentric and distinctively different from everyone else.

Every country needs its national myths, and the vision of Britain presented at the opening ceremony is one that in many ways I'm very happy to get behind, but that doesn't stop me recognising its basic phoniness. It's all very well to celebrate the Industrial Revolution, but over the last 30 years Britain has gone through the biggest de-industrialisation of any major nation (how typical of the British to start taking pride in their industrial heritage just at the moment when it disappears into history), and the opening ceremony seemed to me to buy into the New Labour fantasy that you can make up for all those lost manufacturing jobs by switching over to a high-tech knowledge economy, as if to say: who needs Isambard Kingdom Brunel when you have Tim Berners-Lee?

As a myth of national identity it's an improvement on John Major's 'long shadows on county cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs and old maids bicycling through the morning mist' but I suspect it won't be long before it seems just as dated.
posted by verstegan at 3:49 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a very successful career in the high-tech knowledge economy and have never needed to smelt my own iron.
posted by panaceanot at 6:20 AM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Watching this with the Canadian commentary, I loved how Brian Williams (our Brian Williams, not the American Brian Williams) kept going ON AND ON AND ON about the copper petals from the Olympic cauldron. "Those are the petals - p-e-t-a-l-s - I was talking about earlier." "The cauldron, made up of (however many) copper petals that I mentioned earlier" - ok Brian, we get it! You dig the petals!

Also, Lisa Laflamme mangling the athletes' names in the parade of nations. Holy crapballs. I mean, I know some of them can be tough to pronounce, but if you even go with a phonetic pronunciation it would have been a million times closer to some of the pronunciations she came up with.
posted by antifuse at 7:28 AM on July 30, 2012


I loved the Independent Athletes during the parde of nations - they were all doing stuff like playing air-guitar to the music and trying to get people in the crowd to dance with them, and basically just having a damn ball. It feels kind of like they knew that they were already kind of screwed by virtue of not having a country any more, so they decided they were just going to have as much fun as humanly possible and not worry about the serious stuff so much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suppose no-one spotted the volunteer who got so carried away she marched with India, totally ruining their colour scheme! Great D'OH moment here

I thought the UK and particularly Danny Boyle had a lot to be proud about. I'm so glad to read upthread that in pubs in Britian people cheered, and cried at the NHS sequence. I had a tear in my eye at that too. Well Done Danny but 2 decades too late I'm afraid, the death knell sounded in 1986, and whatever your politics, this current government has put the NHS on the Liverpool Care Pathway regardless of this particular patient's wishes, or indeed the family/UK voter's wishes.

It is heartbreaking but the Health & Social Care Bill 2010 should be renamed the 3 lies Bill, no health, it's not social and no-one in Government cares.

Thank you Danny Boyle, every health professional I've spoken to in the last few days have been in equal measure touched and saddened at getting this recognition just as they turn off the life-support.
posted by Wilder at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I missed the sheep. I really want to see the sheep.
posted by desjardins at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved the Independent Athletes during the parde of nations - they were all doing stuff like playing air-guitar to the music and trying to get people in the crowd to dance with them, and basically just having a damn ball

I had no idea there was even such a thing as Independent Athletes. I thought they were athletes that had renounced all citizenship and still managed to qualify for Olympic events - turns out I wasn't too far off, just their countries either no longer exist or don't have national Olympic committees (yet). (and they really did look like they were having a fantastic time)
posted by antifuse at 1:15 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the Netherlands Antilles athletes that participate under the Olympic flag have to do so because their Olympic committee no longer exists, as they're no longer a semi-dependency, but have voted to be "normal" Dutch municipalities. Y'all may have spotted Aruba did still participate under its own flag, as it decided not to do so.

Being an Australian and not being able to access iPlayer

Expatshield.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:47 PM on July 30, 2012


I suppose no-one spotted the volunteer who got so carried away she marched with India, totally ruining their colour scheme! Great D'OH moment here

Trust me, a billion people have. :) The Indian press was all over this, completely ignoring the general awesomeness of the opening ceremony, or even (if you want to be Indo-centric about it), AR Rahman's bhangra composition to celebrate London's Punjabi community.
posted by the cydonian at 7:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I maybe have a bit too much of that album already to buy it, but it's tempting.

You really should buy it, Artw, it's stunning. The new Underworld tracks from the Pandemonium section and torch bit are worth it alone, as they reveal extra wonders through headphones (the drums rattling teacups at the beginning!), and the procession mix in the second half works really well too.
posted by rory at 2:53 AM on July 31, 2012


I would reiterate to everybody that a search using the apparently unrelated terms "BBC", "Olympics", "Opening Ceremony", "No Commentary" and "Torrent" can pay off in spades.
posted by Grangousier at 3:14 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]




Aw, that's rather lovely.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on August 2, 2012




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