Sunday, 29 July 2012

London 2012 Olympic Games: Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle, 1908 and 1948, Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena

London’s £9.3 billion 2012 Olympic Games opened on Friday (July 27) with a £22 million opening ceremony, writes Paul Coleman.
 Director Danny Boyle’s ceremony - an eclectic dash through Britain’s social history - somehow managed to cram in references to the Industrial Revolution, the Suffragettes, two World Wars, and the National Health Service. But Britain’s central 250-year role in the African slave trade was curiously overlooked.
 Boyle’s creation featured James Bond and the Queen herself, the Beatles, Sex Pistols, Muhammad Ali, Mister Bean and Harry Potter.
 Overall, the residual impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony might be likened to sex; sporadically exciting yet basically ridiculous.
 My favourite bit though? Former England football captain David Beckham’s cheeky smile as he delivered the flaming Olympic torch to the Olympic Stadium at Stratford.
 'Becks’ piloted a glamorous, rainbow-lit speedboat along the Thames, skimming under Tower Bridge and cruising along the mile-and-half-long Limehouse Cut - one of London’s oldest and most forgotten canals –  grinning all the way and serenaded by fireworks!  
 Hallucinatory stuff. 

Photos: London staged the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948.  The old Wembley, known then as the Empire Stadium, hosted the 1948 opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field events. Commemorative 1948 tablets (top) remain displayed at the new Wembley Stadium (below) that hosts nine Olympic 2012 football matches. 

The neighbouring Wembley Arena (below) hosts badminton and rhythmic gymnastics for 2012. In 1948, as the Empire Pool, it staged swimming, diving, water polo, and boxing.

Words and Photos: © Paul Coleman, London Intelligence.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, July 2012.

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