Olympics opening ceremony glorious + Links to 1996 Olympic Torch Passing Through Acadiana
Kelly Whiteside, USA Today, July 28, 2012
LONDON — Like this city itself, full of diverse cultures, storied tradition and a daft sense of humor, the opening ceremony of the London Olympics had something for everyone.
From the Queen doing a cameo with James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) to a pastoral scene featuring 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and three sheep dogs. From a raucous rock concert (even the Sex Pistols' anti-monarchy song God Save the Queen blared on the speakers) to moments of solemnity.
From J.K. Rowling, who brought Harry Potter to life, reading from Peter Pan to celebrate Britain's great contribution to children's literature — to Paul McCartney closing out the show in a sing-a-long.
At times Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's $42 million show seemed as outsized as a Hollywood blockbuster. Even the finale was a cliffhanger.
The Olympic torch, which spent 70 days traveling across the United Kingdom, carried by 8,000 torchbearers from all walks of life, made its way into the stadium.
The torchbearer's identity had been a well-kept secret. The two most popular suggestions were Roger Bannister, who broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile in 1954, and Steve Redgrave, a five-time Olympic champion in rowing. The other great secret was how it would be done, and where it would be located.
In the stadium, a video showed David Beckham zipping up the Thames in speedboat with the torch. When the boat reached the dock, Beckham then passed it Redgrave, who made the final run to the stadium.
The torch made its way toward the flags of the 204 competing nations carried by group of seven young athletes: Cameron MacRitchie, Adelle Tracey, Katie Kirk, Desiree Henry, Jordan Duckitt, Aidan Reynolds and Callum Airlie. There would be no big-name former athlete as torchbearer after all. A ring of flames rose in the center of the stadium creating a cauldron, marking the official start of the London Olympics. The stadium exploded. Fireworks filled the sky. Sir Paul McCartney began the notes of "Hey Jude."
Nah, nah, naaaah, nah nah nah! Hey London, let the Games begin.
A look at some moments — brilliant and otherwise — from the opening ceremony.
Best Actress Award goes to Queen Elizabeth II. A short video clip showed 007 zipping up to Buckingham Palace to pick up the queen. "Good evening, Mr. Bond," she said. Her Majesty, Corgis trailing, followed Bond out, loaded a helicopter, then arrived via parachute (a scene of being dropped out of the copter, drew great laughs.) Even her "body double" was wearing the same peach dress. Moments later, the monarch appeared in the stadium, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.
Best moment in history: Both Bahrain and Brunei featured female flagbearers. It was an important symbol given this is the first time that all 204 countries participating will send at least one female competitor. (Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are sending women for the first time.) It also is worth noting that Saudi Arabia's female athletes marched steps behind the men. Progress comes in baby steps.
Most controversial: It's been 40 years since the 1972 Munich Games, when 11 athletes and coaches were slain. A call for a moment of silence to honor their memory was rejected. However, there was a tribute to loved ones who recently died, images submitted by spectators, as the song "Abide by Me" (Mahatma Gandhi's favorite song) was played.
Best soundtrack: Here, too, there was something for everyone. The Who, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Adele, and that other Queen. Hard to top an opening ceremony which features "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Worst dressed: There were many fashion faux pas? Spain's peasant skirts, the USA's berets and the Czech's boots. Spanish water polo player Roser Tarrago had said this about her uniform: "Maybe I will give it to my grandmother afterwards." Spain's uniforms were made by a Russian designer; the U.S.'s were manufactured in China. Maybe somewhere, style was lost in translation.
Athletic Network Footnote: