London’s Olympics Opening Ceremony Will Look Nothing Like Beijing’s, Anyone’s

The jokes (and groans) are out today after Danny Boyle, artistic director of this summer’s Olympics opening ceremony, unveiled his vision, “inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest,” the Guardian tells us, and “ideas from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein,” according to the Huffington Post. With a fair amount of Jane Austen’s countryside, I might add. Reports the Telegraph:

Boyle’s quirky sense of humour is evident in the ideas for the ceremony and the pastoral scene, which include 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, three sheep dogs, real grass and a plough. There are also clouds with fake rain just in case the night is clear and a game of cricket.

And remember how Beijing set up cannons to potentially disperse rain clouds? Boyle is taking a slightly… diametrically opposite approach.

“If it doesn’t rain, we have created our own,” Boyle said as he revealed the latest details of the £27m ceremony, pointing to the four huge clouds suspended on wires overhanging a model set of the Olympic stadium.

Gawker’s Caity Weaver writes, “The World Regrets Letting England Plan a Party as Olympic Opening Ceremony Details Are Revealed.” Deadspin’s Erik Malinowski wrly notes, “For $42 Million, The London Olympics Opening Ceremony Will Resemble The English Countryside.” MSNBC stifles laughter as it reports, “Cows and sheep to star in London Olympic Games opening ceremony.” Those are just the headlines, by the way. And yes, they might be biased because they’re American, but it’s hard to not be a little snarky when the ceremony is being described as “Green and Pleasant Land,” right?

The Telegraph has a video of Boyle presenting his vision, in which he says:

When you sit down and start to think about what is it about the show, what is it about the ceremony that you want to actually do, you sit down two years ago with a blank sheet of paper and you begin with a [indecipherable to these American ears] philosophy, which I think is probably common to a lot of these shows, which is you think what were we, where do we come from, what’s the heritage, the historical, what are we now, and where are we going? And on that journey what are the values that we hold true and we want to hold up as being valuable, really?

So. A farm?

Contrast — however unfairly — to Beijing’s vision four years ago (which I watched from Ditan Park):

The Guardian, seeing an opportunity here, has asked its readers to “Email your photoshopped masterpieces to by midday on Wednesday 13 June, complete with a caption. We will share the best we receive in a gallery – and the top three will also win a prize.”

Frankenstein, The Tempest, and a pastoral scene, with cows and cricket (the sport). We can’t wait to see the results.

    6 Responses to “London’s Olympics Opening Ceremony Will Look Nothing Like Beijing’s, Anyone’s”

    1. A

      The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was pretty spectacular. I was working in London at that time and on the floor that I worked on we had several TVs. When the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was on, everyone’s eyes were glued to the screens and afterwards I heard so many people discussing how the London Olympics Ceremony were going to be able to beat what Beijing had just done.

    2. STG

      Really? Were you that blinded by all the pretty flashing lights? -Please, The Beijing Opening Ceremony was the most ostentatious and garish lowest common denominator nonsense imaginable, it lacked any sense of subtlety or nuance – it was fun by numbers, spectacle by diktat, militaristic neon pomp, bombastic and crass. Let’s not make it some sort of Olympiad high-water mark, it’s a fucking sporting event, not a circus. What’s wrong with you people?

      • Varun

        What an incoherent & silly rant.

        Opening Ceremony in 2008 was brilliant, its a subjective thing as well, just because you didn’t find it appealing doesn’t mean rest didn’t.

        I have watched the last 4 Olympics Opening Ceremonies and 2008 was the grandest, i am not commenting upon the Sporting spectacle of the games.

        Opening Ceremony is a celebration of the Host country and Chinese did that brilliantly and i am sure the British/English will do it as well, some will not like it because people have different taste but that doesn’t matter because they are the Host and its their party.

    3. HerMichael

      There’s nothing incoherent about the post above. I think it’s pretty clear. The Olympics Opening Ceremony is a symbol of all that is wrong with the modern games, the corporate greed, the political posturing and one-up-man-ship, not to mention the wasted tax dollars. It’s completely contrary to the spirit of the Olympics.

      • Varun

        I am afraid you are living in the wrong time period, if you are one of those people who still thinks Olympics is about Amateur Athletes, you are living in a fictional delusion.

        This is the 21^st Century, Olympics are no longer a domain of the Ancient Greeks, it belongs to the world.

        Ancient Olympics had specialized Athletes who competed in multiple Olympics and won fame(and success) Because of their pursuits in their events.

        This is not the 1900′s Olympics, Anyone who still hammers to the old outdated ideals has no place in the modern world.

        Women were not even allowed to take part decades back, that changed so has the rest.

        Olympics is about the pinnacle of Athletic pursuits of Human Species.

        There is nothing wrong in commercialization, the computer you wrote this comment came form that, excess is in every sphere of life from personal to business that is no credible reason to discredit an entire Event and its history.

        On the Olympics ceremony, its subjective, many people(if not the majority) like a show and that is how it will be.

        The comment above was indeed incoherent & and a rant.


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