The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony will stay with me for a long time. This morning I felt at once exhilarated and a little ashamed of my curmudgeonly post yesterday. The production was fantastic. Danny Boyle and his team of designers, artists, technicians, choreographers and so on produced a thing of wonder and beauty. It was pitched at the right level and represented Britain’s position in the world in 2012 so accurately, acknowledging our history and culture whilst not being afraid to laugh at ourselves too. Are you watching Mitt Romneee?
On the great bell rang by Bradley Wiggins, were the words of a famous speech by Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the complete speech read by Kenneth Branagh in his marvellous cameo of Isambard Kingdom Brunel:
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
The Tempest 3.2.148-156
This play is said to be the inspiration of the ceremonies and I wonder what price you might get for another speech from the same play forming some part of the closing ceremony. Amongst the many witty and self deprecating parts of the whole presentation was a James Bond film sequence featuring Daniel Craig as Bond, The Queen herself and two of her corgis:
One of the more interesting statistics this morning is that 29 million people in the United Kingdom watched the ceremony on BBC. That number that must rank with some of the highest ever UK viewing figures. Just like the old days of two and three channel TV when watching something like that was a shared and common experience.I am glad I recorded the whole thing as it is definitely worth watching again.
So much to admire: the Industrial Revolution sequence and the forging of the five rings, Mr Bean and Simon Rattle, Mike Oldfield, the five decades of music and popular culture compressed into 15 minutes, Beckham’s speedboat echoing james Bond, the clever torch lighting idea and the flame itself.
And now that speech for the closing ceremony:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.