Being an absolute fan of everything British and the Brits in particular it was of course obligatory for me to watch the big Olympics opening ceremony (sadly only on telly) – and I have to say I was quite impressed!Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) was in charge of the visual realisation and presented a colourful, original and very British show with lots of special effects as one had expected it. What I didn’t expect though was the way everything seemed so down-to-earth, so convinced yet not arrogant. The Brits don’t take themselves too seriously, this became more than obvious when Daniel Craig aka James Bond escorted Queen Elizabeth II (yes, in person!!) from Buckingham palace to the Olympic stadium – via helicopter! I really admire the Queen’s willingness to actively participate in this event, not just by showing up because she has too, but by really getting into this all. Appearances by JK Rowling to Rowan Atkinson and Sir Simon Rattle – people who changed and left an imprint on British culture – also performed for their country with such pride and pleasure; it was a joy to watch.
I particularly loved Kenneth Branagh’s recital of ‘The Isle is Full of Noises’ from Shakespeare’s Tempest: dressed as a Victorian gentleman he convincingly strolled the luscious, green landscape that was the Olympic stadium in the first scene, observing the British as they developed from a rural, agricultural country to the cradle of the industrialisation. While soiled workers forged the first of the five Olympic rings, the other four came ‘flying’ in from above, forming the known symbol representing the nation’s colours. Not only British history and culture but also British institutions such as the NHS were portrayed by countless children as homage to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Up until then I thought everything really superb, the following staging of ‘modern’ times was slightly weaker (especiallythose punks on power stilts kind were somewhat irritating). I guess that sometimes it was hard for someone not too familiar with Great Britain to follow, maybe also slightly boring. The breaks between the individual parts of the ceremony were too harsh for me; there should have been more ‘connecting elements’ (such as the short film prefacing the Queen’s arrival). All in all though I found the opening utterly pretty, not as pompous as China’s maybe, but at least it had soul, authenticity and conviction. I’m looking forward to some fair and fun Olympic Games for each participating nation.