Posts Tagged With: London 2012

The Greatest Show On Earth – London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Last night I was one of the 27.9+ million television viewers watching, quite possibly, the most amazing opening ceremony for any Olympics ever.  Danny Boyle, the master mind director behind it has made a negative nation proud – no mean feat for anyone.

We saw the models of the set, we all commented how it looked like Tellytubby land – but as everything moved, as everything evolved, as everything pulsed, we saw Great Britain.  ‘An opening ceremony’, I remarked earlier this week and again last night, ‘shouldn’t make sense.  It should be a combination of things to do with the host country and leave people scratching their heads.’  Well actually, maybe I was wrong.  This told a story – not some flouncy made up story of a child on a star that leads them to some universe of stilt walkers with silk tails – but of a nation.   Yes it may have left out the negative bits (quell surprise) but it also left out a lot of the great (it was long enough as it was!)  Overall we saw the changes to a country that in term helped shape the world we live in.

As a show it was fantastic.  Amazing music, great visuals, stunning use of lighting technology (all those lights on the seats – wow!) and some fantastic performances.  No one can beat the Queen meeting James Bond – well apart from the actor who played the parachuting Queen that is.  Even Paul McCartney not quite being in time with his click track couldn’t cast darkness over the proceedings.

I cannot forget Mr Bean joining in playing the Chariots of Fire theme as another inspired piece:

And then the all important lighting of the Olympic flame.  I’ve followed that flame online across the country.  I cheered it when I went to see it come through Birmingham, and beamed with pride when I watched a friend’s Mum carry it.  Steve Redgrave was the perfect choice.  It was great when he went to meet Beckham on the boat to get it… but then perfect was improved.  Having seven great Olympians nominate seven up and coming sportsmen and ladies was inspired (Rower Cameron MacRitchie, 19, Sailor Callum Airlie, 17, London 2012 Young Ambassador Jordan Duckitt, 18, Runner Desiree Henry, 16, Runner Katie Kirk, 18, Javelin thrower Aidan Reynolds, 18, Runner Adelle Tracey, 19).  That is the legacy that these Olympics is about.  So not only did us Brits get that bit right, we also had the best cauldron ever.  Made of copper petals representing every nation taking part that once lit rose to create a flaming flower.  Yes it looked a bit like a bonfire in the middle of the stadium but once it’s in its rightful place it’ll be a sight to behold.

Last night I tweeted how proud I was to be British and how it’s so easy to forget the great things that your home country have achieved.  It’s like when tourists come to your city and ask what to do and you can’t give them an answer because you don’t explore where you live.  You think you know it all, but you don’t.  If anything this ceremony made me realise that I don’t know all that much about our history.  I’m aware we haven’t had the best times, but at the same time we’re greater than we allow ourselves to think.  Maybe that is why we are team GB – team GREAT Britain.

 

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The Voyage – Victoria Square, Birmingham

A free, outdoor dance spectacular finally managed to set sail after having the first night rained off – and the wait, well it was so worth it. The Voyage helping to launch the London 2012 festival is set upon a ship that spans the length of Birmingham’s iconic Town Hall and uses the space of Victoria Square (and its audience) to show the ship setting sail launching its passengers into a new life.  Produced by Birmingham Hippodrome and created by dance company Motion House and featuring stunning aerialists and performers from Australian performance company Legs On The Wall it’s a massive treat for the eyes and with performances from the Town Hall’s own gospel choir and a stunning orchestra and soundtrack it’s also a treat for the ears.

Stunning projections that have been carefully mapped onto the side of the ship and the Town Hall to make it feel as though the ship is actually setting sail.  From waves crashing against the hull, to cities forming on the Town Hall you really get the impression that you too are going on the journey.

The narrative of the piece is sometimes lost in the amazing visuals, but it is easy enough to follow along with when you get back on track but every single performance in the huge cast is brilliant.  The cast includes a large number of local youngsters taking part alongside the professionals of Motion House and Legs On The Wall and all looked to be really enjoying themselves in taking part in such a fantastic event.

I could go on about this for a long time – but I’d only start spoiling things and repeating myself.  It is honestly one of the best things I have ever seen and is a real life example of the word spectacular.  The weather might not be looking too great for tonight (Saturday) but keep an eye out on the weather forecast and the website/twitter/facebook of The Voyage (links to follow) for the latest news.  It’s on till tomorrow night ONLY and will not be seen again in Birmingham after that.  It starts at 10pm but last night reached capacity by then so get there early.  And as for the best place to stand? I was in line with the Victoria statue (which probably wished it had turned around to watch it – like the CCTV!) and had a great view, too close and you won’t have the full affect of the projections.  And if it rains? Try to use a hood rather than a brolly.

The Voyage – 5 broken champagne bottles smashed against its hull out of 5!

The Voyage is performed (weather permitting) at 10pm on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June 2012 in Victoria Square, Birmingham.  It’s FREE!

Website: www.thevoyage.org.uk (Includes MUCH better photos than my grainy iPhone ones!)

Twitter: @TheVoyage2012

Facebook: TheVoyage2012

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