The 30th Olympic Summer Games began with a British bang. It didn’t have the militaristic brilliance of Bejing, or the historic sentimentality of Athens. London’s opening ceremony was whimsical but inspirational; making you raise your eyebrows at times, but enjoy it all the same.
The ceremony’s director, Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionarie”) masterfully orchestrated the night’s events, which he called “a celebration of the creativity, exuberance and, above all, the generosity of the British people.”
The ceremony certainly did not lack in variety. The following are some of the nights more notable occurrences:
Mr. Bean showing that he is somehow still funny. His four-minute long skit of playing the repetitive note in “Chariots of Fire” while day-dreaming of running along the beach was perhaps the ceremony’s most comical moment.
James Bond proving that he can even make the Queen of England look cool. Though obviously staged, the image of Daniel Craig and the Queen entering the arena via British flag parachutes (a la “The Spy Who Loved Me”) was quite priceless.
A mildly creepy giant balloon baby. Those who saw it know what I am talking about. I don’t know who I feel more bad for, the person who had to design and build it, or the person who now has to store it his backyard shed. On the bright side, at least he can probably play some hilarious pranks on his friends.
An awesome compilation of British music highlights through the last several decades. This musical extravaganza featured some artist you were expecting to hear (Queen, The Beatles), some you weren’t expecting to hear (Annie Lennox, Bee Gees) and some you wish you hadn’t heard (David Bowie and David Bowie).
Justin Bieber proving that even an ocean can’t stop him from infiltrating an event where there is the possibility of publicity.
Daniel Craig and David Beckham passively reminding us that we will never be handsome enough.
An epic, humongous Voldemort balloon that we were really hoping would go all Avada Kedavra on the giant baby balloon.
The athletes from the United States being led out into the arena, the flag being waved proudly by….Michael Phelps? Lebron James? No actually it was Mariel Zagunis. If you didn’t instantly recognize Zagunis, shame on you. You clearly do not watch enough women’s fencing.
A rousing rendition of “Hey Jude” led by Paul McCartney, which concluded the ceremony and proved, once again, that no one ever gets tired of singing the “Naaaaa Naa Naa Na Na Na Na” refrain.
While at times intensely odd, this four-hour spectacle was anything but boring. If one looked past the giant balloon babies, swing-dancing nurses and flying monkeys on bicycles, they discovered an opening ceremony with an infectiously light and vivacious flavor.
While some criticized the ceremony for being too long and over-the-top, most praised the event for its unconventionality and heart.
“What was amazing about the whole thing was that it worked. It was dazzling and grand and heartwarming and emotional and fun all at the same time, “said British news producer Madhulika Sikka. “And it was the fun that came through the most. People seemed to be having fun. Contrast that with the automaton nature of the Beijing performers and one could get misty eyed about the whole thing.”