I always watch Olympic Opening Ceremonies with great interest. I admit to being a bit of a snob about them--I just don't know how anyone is going to beat the awesomeness that were the Athens ceremonies. I also love to watch what the athletes are wearing--what the powers-that-be of their countries decided to put them in every four years to represent their nation.
The London ceremonies had some bright moments. I am all for the pastoral country farms, complete with May pole and sheep. So much of England still has that classic, green, near-wild appeal. They still respect their farmers. I loved that tree-Tor, that later held the flags of all the countries.
I was less excited by the Industrial segment, though there were elements that stood out. I liked Kenneth Brannagh's sideburns and the shoutout to the suffragettes. The red poppies in the WWI tribute were perfect. I was a little sad, though, that there was so little color in this section. Sure, the idea of Industry is all black, white, and brown, but colors still existed! Even a dingy blue or green might have pullled in the pastoral from the opening section, to transition it instead of replacing it. I did like the idea of them piping in the smell of the ring forge (and I know I'm not alone in having first associated the ring with Tolkien instead of the Olympic rings!)
I almost spit tea everywhere when James Bond and QEII came skydiving in. That was a good punctuation point for the show.
in the next section, I know people were confused by the connection of the children's literature with the health care; I didn't have that confusion. I loved the kids in their jammies, first as a signing choir and then as hospital kids at GOSH. It's quite true that British children's literature is an indelible part of youth, and I'm so glad they treated it with pride. And then there were Mary Poppinses falling from the sky. You can't go wrong with that.
The digital love story was my least favorite section. There was too much in it. Too many songs and films and shows, and it was hard to pick out anything iconic because there was just too much. Sure, that is representative of our age, but it doesn't make the best ceremonial presence. It just felt too long. Remember the two lovers in the Athens games? They were sweet and their story stood out because they were given space. That didn't happen here. And some of the music/films weren't even British...most were, but again, we lost that chance to have iconic elements stand out because of attempts to be comprehensive.
Fortunately, we had Speedboat Beckham to laser through all of that.
There were some cool points later, too, like the doves riding bicycles and the honor guard of workers for the flag. I liked that they had young people carry the torch, and I loved the rising copper leaves for the cauldron. That's one of my favorite cauldrons ever. Good job, London!
The Parade of Nations seemed very full of suits this year, didn't it? That kind of disappoints me. I wish more countries would do a rendition of native dress--not costumey, but with a sort of national presence. I know they want to be respectful, and you could make the argument that the athletes blend together harmoniously, but I feel like that's more the Closing Ceremonies emotion. In the Opening Ceremonies, I want to know what that country is.
Some countries were beautifully attired. Bhutan had lovely traditional silks. The Cook Islands totally brought it, as did Fiji's flagbearer. Gambia looked wonderful in their green robes, as did Mali in white and Nigeria in green and white. India mixed it up with suits and saris. Uganda also looked lovely. It's interesting that so many countries who are wartorn or in poverty show so much pride in their national heritage in costume.
Meanwhile, there is Germany. Now, I'm not suggesting that they were lederhosen, but pink and blue track jackets, with hats that had a German flag-colored ribbon? Nothing about it made sense...and yet Time Magazine liked it? Their opinion was based on festive color, but personally, I think the above countries pulled it off better, and classier.
There is always a lot of fuss about what the USA wears. Sneakers and skirts made the women look a little touristy, which is perhaps sadly appropriate, but otherwise they definitely looked like Ralph Lauren dressed them. Which he did. The uniforms weren't very iconically American...actually, some of the stuff he did for Village Wear (which is pictured in the above Time link) is nattier. But we were definitely not the worst dressed, so I guess we can take that home.