Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympics Day 1: Rule Britannia

Filmmaker Danny Boyle did the UK proud last night with an opening ceremony that managed to reflect the nation's history, culture, arts and personality with artistry, humour and spectacle. From the gorgeous set pieces depicting this "green and pleasant land" as well as the devastation of empire and industry, the show pivoted into moments that were absurd (Daniel Craig parachuting into the stadium with the Queen), ridiculous (Mr Bean trying to play along with Chariots of Fire) and sublime (massive appearances from British children's literature characters like Mary Poppins, Lord Voldemort, the Queen of Hearts and Cruella DeVil).

There was a lot of music - perhaps a bit too bewildering in its swirling melange, and Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude was a bit anti-climactic. But it was great to see nods to Britain's social heritage, from women's rights to labour unions to the National Health Service. And the cauldron, combining flames representing each participating nation, is simply breathtaking.

Today saw the doling out of the first gold medals, and China emerged with surprise victories in swimming and shooting to top the medals chart. There's a lot more tomorrow, including the start of the diving competition. And I get to see my first live event tomorrow - volleyball at Earl's Court.

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