Mon, September 23, 2013

Bloody good Olympic Opening Ceremony

By THANE BURNETT, QMI Agency


Fireworks light up the sky over Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, England, July 27, 2012. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)



LONDON - Dear world -- what a bloody hangover.

I spent Friday night with a billion friends or so.

It felt like an evening at a very crowded pub -- and the barkeep may have been doubling up my drinks.

While I'm groggy, I think I've seen the most chaotic -- but possibly greatest -- entertainment event of my generation.

And it included the best Olympic 'porky pie' ever warmly shared during any opening ceremony -- the Queen stunt double sky diving in with a James Bond close behind.

A king's ransom -- or rather a Queen's purse -- was spent on putting on the best torch lighting ceremony in the history of forever.

It meant $42 million, 40 sheep and a cast of thousands, organized by Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle.

And while feel free to debate whether it beat the reining champ of openings, Beijing, the question is mute to my deafened ears.

Because you know if a live show comes with 3D glasses, it'll either be the greatest or the worst of all time.

Gladly, in this case, I watched history unfold and retold like never before.

Factories grew from green grass. Fires of inspiration flared.

It was pristine then coal smudged then bed linen crisp.

But they had me at Kenneth Branagh reciting Shakespeare.

Okay Mrs. White, my old English teacher, I get it now.

You knew the Bard was cool.

If Beijing was celebration with control, the cork of London 2012 was popped with abandon, humour, dark earthy tones and blinding light.

It was what the British do best -- haul you aside and get you drunk on story.

But to be honest, I had the media handbook in front of me, and even I can't explain large parts of the plot.

Either Branagh was a Bond villain, who enslaved a small English village, or the start was depicting the arrival of the technological genius of the industrial age.

Who cares? We were all gulping it down. Oh, please sir, could we have some more?

Oh yes, and you will like it!

And we did -- especially Bond, or rather Daniel Craig, arriving at Buckingham Palace, to team up with the Queen.

This was Bond as wingman to Her Majesty.

Cheeky buggers.

You want sweet? They brought patients and staff from a local hospital to listen as author JK Rowling read Peter Pan.

Kids jumped on beds as nurses danced. Did I mention the nurses were on roller blades?

And that Voldermort showed up?

What more did you want people? For Bond to take him down?

No, because Mary freakin' Poppins arrived to do that -- along with Mr. Bean.

Booyah! Take that China!

Though I couldn't make heads or tails of a mash-up of TV, film and music classics that involved a blow-up house and a link to British Internet scientist Sir. Tim Berners-Lee who Brits say is the reason why your kids only communicate through texts.

There was also a rapper in there. I don't know his name.

I suppose my kids will read this and text it to me.

The night went from lunacy to melancholy in the flash, as the faces of random loved ones who had passed on created a gallery on monitors.

Whether it was supposed to include those killed during the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972 is being questioned in social media circles.

Then there were the athletes.

They looked so young, these champions of ours, as they marched in.

Enough pieces of paper were dropped on them to hand a slip to every human on Earth.

Including Mohammad Ali who showed up to watch the flame oddly lit by a group of youngsters.

After it all rained down, a croaky-voiced Paul McCartney performing 'Hey Jude' seemed like your new pal at the end of the evening who grabs a guitar and starts to sing the sweetest damn song because it's so late and you're so damn wasted and we're all best pals now, right?

Disoriented and unsure about where we put the keys, most of us left happy with the world -- though unsure about work tomorrow.

CLICK BELOW FOR AN INTERACTIVE LOOK AT OLYMPIC STADIUM

STATS AND FACTS ABOUT THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY

• 96 children popped countdown balloons.
• 23 tonnes – weight of the Olympic Bell rung.
• 1st acting role for the Queen
• 40 sheep
• 3 cows
• 2 goats
• 10 ducks
• 3 sheep dogs
• all handled by 34 animal handlers
• 7,346 meters of real turf used

During the industrial part ...

• 4 months – time it took to age costumes used in industrial section
• 965 drummers used
• 34,570 buttons on the costumes
• 7 Chimneys
• 5 steam engines
• 6 looms
• 1 crucible
• 1 water wheel

During children’s bedtime story session there were ...

• 600 dancers
• 320 beds

Number of Olympic committees

• 240

thane.burnett@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @thaneburnett