Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

In Pictures: London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers dressed up as Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond parachute out of a helicopter above the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: (L-R) Norma Major, Gordon Brown and Chief Executive of LOCOG Paul Deighton during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Daniele Matias Hypolito of Brazil chalks her feet on the uneven bars during training sessions for artistic gymnastics ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Training Academy on July 26, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Danny Boyle's "bloody brilliant" London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony has been hailed as a triumph.

>Click More Pictures above to launch Olympics gallery<

The event, which featured a diverse cast including James Bond star Daniel Craig and JK Rowling, merged music, dance and special effects into a spectacular opening.

Designer Wayne Hemingway said it was an "amazing" ceremony.

The Morecambe-born founder of Red or Dead said: "It just makes me so proud.

"Watching it made me proud to be a Lancastrian. Danny Boyle is from just down the road to me and so much of my life was in this, everything I believe in, the history from the industrial revolution right through to the NHS."

Last night's worldwide audience was treated to a greatest hits medley of British pop over the decades with bursts of the Beatles, the Jam, Sex Pistols and Dizzee Rascal.

There were also excerpts from the Kinks, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Mud's Tiger Feet before Emile Sande sang the cup final classic Abide With Me.

Hemingway said: "The musical bit was perfection from the wit and the guts to put Tiger Feet among the Beatles and the Who and then to give pretty much the whole of Pretty Vacant.

"Normally it would be brushed over, but the punk spirit which is in Britain was written through the ceremony.

"Anyone cynical about this has no lust for life, it's just bloody brilliant.

"I don't think anyone could find a fault. He deserves a knighthood."

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg agreed, tweeting: "Impressive though £openingceremony in Beijing was, they didn't have any great pop music to play, did they?"

Not everyone was so enthusiastic. Art critic Brian Sewell said he would not watch the show.

Speaking before the ceremony, he said: "I was not planning to watch it but then the 10 O'Clock News ran a snippet of it which merely reinforced my plan not to watch it."

Novelist and journalist Tony Parsons was more positive, saying: "Sneering at the Olympics is like sneering at Christmas. Do you want to be with Danny Boyle or Mitt Romney? Time to stop synchronised moaning."

Wallander star Kenneth Branagh featured as the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, reading from Shakespeare's The Tempest in the historical section.

Historian Tom Holland tweeted: "Shakespeare. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Nimrod. Lots of Victorians in top hats. The industrial revolution. If only sport was always like this."

Cultural commentator Peter York said the ceremony had "everything but the kitchen sink" and was aimed at "a home audience".

He said: "I just kept on thinking what is the rest of the world thinking of this?

"While there were many things in it that I found admirable and pushed the buttons for me, I couldn't see what the message was and it was pretty messy.

"When you're doing a spectacular like this, you have to keep it simple. There is no time to explain things so you have to do things that don't need explaining.

"You would have to know about the violent change of industrialisation and Brunel, and I'm not sure how many people do.

"There are whole tranches of the new middle classes around the world who come cold to us, and it seems to me this was an opportunity to present ourselves to them and we have had a confused offer."

Edwin Page, the author of Ordinary Heroes: The Films Of Danny Boyle, said the ceremony showed the filmmaker's trademark cinematic flair.

He said it was a "beautifully orchestrated tribute to the British people".

Mr Page said: "There were little personal moments within the great sweep of the ceremony which I don't think you would have had if it had been done by someone who was not a film-maker.

"He has always tended to use British music in his films and he did that here.

"He also stayed close to his working-class roots with the rings being cast and the industrial revolution.

"One of the things he likes to do in his films is jump from genre to genre and I think he would have relished this challenge."

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