Monday, 30 July 2012

Second Star to the Right and Straight On Till Morning

I kind of couldn't let the Olympics go by without contributing my own response and letting it live here forever on the interwebs. Okay, who am I kidding, I don't know a thing about sports: I'm here to gush about the Olympic Ceremony!

Can I just say two words?





KEN BRANAGH (yeah, that's right, I get to call him Ken)






DANNY BOYLE!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to say something that may be shocking and unpatriotic, but until I heard Danny Boyle was designing (directing? producing? I don't know) the opening ceremony I really wasn't that interested in the Games. Not even from a very very bad Classics student perspective (but yay for Greece parading out first!). I'd never watched an Olympic Games before, and certainly not the opening ceremony, because at the last one I was 16 and... had much more self-involved things to do. That ego won't inflate itself you know. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is it takes a big performance and a guy like Danny Boyle, who already holds my greatest respect, for me to take an interest in international, historic and patriotic affairs. Shameful, right?

But OMFG was it incredible!!!!!! I mean, I have nothing to compare it to so the Beijing comparisons went right over my head, but from the raw response of my mother and from basically the rest of the world, I'm pretty confident in my opinion. Danny Boyle deserves a knighthood. People (bitter, bitter people) have complained that the ceremony was horrendous, an obscene waste of money and totally missed 'the point' of a British-hosted Games.

Well, those people are entitled to their opinion but they are wrong but that sucks for them cause enjoying is a lot more fun than criticizing. Anybody who took on this job was going to have a different interpretation of what makes Britain Britain and how best to portray that. There are so many ways this could have been done, and no way is the correct way, but Danny Boyle's way was an absolute triumph. Anyone who's seen his films knows he has a great command of not only the performance and the spectacle but also the point at which that overlaps with music. We know he's good at dark things, at exploring the bleaker sides of humanity, but we also know he's an incredibly optimistic filmmaker and person (Slumdog anyone? 127 Hours even?). He knows how to stand back and look at the big picture, see it for what it is, and be true to it. This might sound odd, but I never feel I'm being lied to when watching one of his films. Everything feels genuine and completely in context. I think he is an incredibly unprejudiced man, and that rare quality combined with his compassion, his artistic talent, his unflagging faith in humanity as well as his ability to accept its flaws and still root for us all—I think that's why he was the best choice for the job, and I think that's why he pulled it off so spectacularly.

And how fucking beautiful and moving was that Olympic torch made out of all the petals? What a symbol, and kind of exactly what the world needs right now. I get why the Games are such an important tradition now; they're not just a sporting event, they're a world event. And you cannot put a price on that. (I mean, you can, but don't be a Pernicity Percy and stamp on my point here.)

By the end of it, I thought I'd never felt so proud, and so happy, to be British. Even beyond that, though, I'd never felt quite so unified with every other person on the planet. And if I ever see Danny Boyle walking along the street, my squealing will be eternal.

Now me and my unashamed love for the whole thing are off to iTunes to download the official album!

Good luck team GB!