Mon, September 23, 2013

Opening Ceremony like dessert before the meal

By STEVE TILLEY, QMI Agency


A parachutist dressed as Queen Elizabeth is seen during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium REUTERS/Jorge Silva



While some of the Sun’s brightest talents are over in London to experience the energy of the 2012 Summer Olympics firsthand, I’ve been given the unique assignment of spending the entire duration of the games under house arrest, watching everything on TV and online, keeping tabs on social media trends and technology, and basically just being a snarky smart-aleck about whatever I’m seeing.

I still haven’t figured out if this is a privilege or punishment.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony is like eating dessert before the meal, since it’s invariably full of more sizzle, surprises, controversy and outright weirdness than any other part of the games. And London 2012 has not disappointed. Here are some highlights from Friday’s $43-million spectacle helmed by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.

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In what might the best example of art bleeding into life ever witnessed during an Opening Ceremony, James Bond (as portrayed by Daniel Craig) paid a visit to Buckingham Palace to pick up Queen Elizabeth II (as portrayed by Queen Elizabeth II) for their helicopter ride to the stadium. And then they parachuted in. THEY PARACHUTED IN. Granted, I’m fairly confident it wasn’t really the Queen (or Craig) jumping out of the helicopter, but who knows? Her Royal Highness looked really, really cranky during the rest of the ceremony — maybe she twisted her ankle when she landed.

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After Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling read a passage from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, a giant, inflatable Lord Voldemort began terrorizing the sick children of Great Ormond Street hospital. Then, to complete this bizarre visual mash-up of British children’s literature, an army of Mary Poppins – Mary Poppinses? Marys Poppins? – descended to drive him away.

What. The. Heck? And they made fun of us for the neckbeard poet at our Winter Olympics kickoff.

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Perhaps still flush with J.K. Rowling’s appearance, CTV newswoman and Olympic host Lisa LaFlamme wondered aloud if perhaps the identity of the final torchbearer would be Harry Potter’s wizard mentor Dumbledore. Because, after all, it’s a cauldron that gets lit. Like, you know, what wizards use.

Oh come ON, Lisa. It couldn’t have been Dumbledore lighting the cauldron! Everyone knows he died in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Get your facts in order.

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The International Olympic Committee decided not to honour or acknowledge the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in Munich during the 1972 Olympics, saying it wasn’t the place to do so.

And yet they held a moment of silence for friends and loved ones of people in attendance at the Opening Ceremony. Just random everyday people who couldn’t be there because they died. Most of them, presumably, not at the hands of terrorists.

It’s really sweet that the people who shelled out for a ticket to the Opening Ceremony got to also submit photographs of their deceased loved ones to be broadcast on the screen. But I’m with CTV’s Brian Williams on this one: “It is wrong for the IOC not to have a moment of silence,” he declared. Presumably because he’s not allowed to say “what a total d-bag decision” on the air.

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Ultimately, though it was a very entertaining, if frequently weird, opener. The music in particular was great, with everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles to Queen to New Order to the Prodigy to Arctic Monkeys featured at one point. In fact, London wins for the best Opening Ceremony soundtrack ever, right down to David Bowie’s Heroes playing when Great Britain’s athletes entered the stadium, and Paul McCartney directing a sing-along of Hey Jude to wrap the whole thing up. Now if only we could bury that damn I Believe song once and for all.