My family and I (as someone I greatly admire might say) are just coming to the end of watching the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games.
My general feeling was that it was grand entertainment, but nevertheless all over the place. Why on earth did the creators of the opening ceremony chose the industrial revolution and the NHS as causes celebres of English history? And then all that bit with the family and the kids in the house – although I could sort of see an “Englishman’s House is His Castle” theme there…
But the fun was certainly appreciated. I can’t say how delighted I was by the James Bond spoof with Her Majesty – Her REAL Majesty! That was just sooo good.
The “Chariots of Fire” send up with Mr Bean was a good chuckle too.
Lots to like. I know there have been a lot of nay sayers regarding the Games, from Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith of the Catholic Herald to our own Michael Leunig in today’s Age. There is an awful lot of money spent on this, and the “peace and goodwill” theme does sometimes appear to be just a front for big money and power, but hey… There is little in life that is pure unadulterated simplicity and good. The one thing that Games does is bring together people from (almost) every country of the world for a (reasonably) peaceful and friendly event. That has to be a good thing.
I liked the number of hymns that featured in the opening ceremony – Abide with me, Guide me O thou Great Jehovah, even William Blake’s funny song about “those feet in ancient times”. With the Archbishop of Canterbury lined up directly behind the Head of the English Church, it reminds one that Christianity is still deep in the ancient culture of the British. I did wonder if the Tree on the Hill – uprooted by the industrial revolution – was not meant to be the ancient tree of Glastonbury, which would add even a little more to this aspect of the ceremony.
I hope the games in London turn out to be a benefit to the British nation, despite all the negativity. We in Australia know that big events can be big morale boosters – we’ve had our Olympics and our World Youth Day after all. I wish all the athletes all the very best for the next fortnight of events.
PS. I will just add that the quality of the advertisements during the ceremony (another necessary evil of the economic realities of the Olympics) were of a particularly high standard (except the one for Big Brother…). The gold medal for advertising goes to the Commonwealth Bank (money again) for producing a very commendable poem “The Ode to Can”. This is bound to become a classic in pop psychology!
PPS. Just got to the lighting of the lamp – Beautiful!
UPDATE 29/7: One always feels a little more sober in the morning. And a sober analysis of the Opening Ceremony, with a good dose of humour added in, may be found here at Catholicvote.org (HT Fr Z). To whet your appetite for it, Hoopes begins by saying: “Opening scenes: The British people see themselves as having gone from being Hobbits to being Orcs.” Indeed. I wondered myself whether the whole stadium was about to be attacked by Ents when the tree on top of the hill was pulled up. What would Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien have made of the whole show? They may have approved of Mr Bean, at least (that is the one positive that Hoopes found in the whole show).