The Opening Ceremony

Well this is the only reason why I ever want to watch the Olympics. It’s rare for me to stick around for any sporting event that goes on for the next three weeks of… Stuff. But nope, the two ceremonies are just that. It’s a four-hour spectacle of song, dance and interpretive makings that signify the games and the host nation itself. But during my past experiences especially now since gaining attention to the acts of the 1996 games in Atlanta, I noticed that each opening ceremony theres seem to be a pattern or trend that goes with every show.

Doesn’t matter what the director was doing behind the scenes or how the committees of those games write it up. It always tends to follow the same pattern:

1. The Countdown/ Introductory Song

This plays out in the start of the games. Intro plays out with a video montage of all the athletes that have been training so hard to get where to where they are now and all that other stuff all leading up to the opening of the show with an ominous countdown sequence. The London Olympics featured theirs with a series of self-popping balloons. I kinda laughed at the miss-out on #6 heh.

2. An Artist’s Interpretation the History of the Host Nation

This is about 15-25 minutes at best where the director shows us through visuals an idea of the host nations “coming-to-be”. London came on shining with the part of where they came from an agrarian society to the industrial revolution. I really like the music that plays on in the sequence leading up to the formation of the rings above them. This is what’s included at the end of the history segment. At least in part one.

3. Arrival of the Head of State and Raising the Flag

Another goodie from the show as it shows one of Britain’s great contributions to the arts James Bond comes in and escorts the queen to the stadium and in (with a stand-in) parachutes down). The arrival of the head of state is one of the parts of the show right before the armed forces come in with the nation’s flag to raise along with the anthem sung on cue. Now leaving from that part we go into part two.

4. More History…

Left a blank out there because the second half of the show before the Parade of Nations is the more history/cultural contributions segment of the show. Every nation goes right into the culture of the nation with a bit more of history with the point being that each nation has done many things that people from all around the world. For the current show I got three words that makes it worth watching up until the end: Mary Poppins Army! And that’s’ where the show begins to go downhill from here.

Update: Video has been removed. Damn NBC! Oops! not before the awesome appearance of one of my favorite comedic actors Rowan Atkinson playing the repeated one-note in Vangelis‘s Chariots of Fire along with him in the famous opening sequence to the movie . I don’t know if he’s acting out as his iconic Mr. Bean or it’s just him being himself. Either way, it was awesome. NOW after that the show goes downhill in my interest to sticking with the show any further. Enter the digital age segment. Right after…

5. The Parade of Nations

Ugh! The parade of nations is a love-hate relationship. The love, basically seeing your country come up whereas the hate is if your nation comes before or after the several hundred or so members head of you. This is the part I skip the most because its boring to no end and the costumes range from cool to “what they hell were they smoking when they design this” The format of the parade foes as follows:

  • Greece comes first because they are the originators of the games unless they’re the host nation.
  • Then the whole A-Z listing of nations the go one after the other with the flag-bearer being the hero or most popular athlete.
  • For American audiences comes the United States and finally…
  • The last group being the team of the host nation. For this year it’s the United Kingdom or “Great Britain” (or any of their colonies, territories and other come up first).

Now what makes this parade worthy to make me stick around is the introduction of two new things.: With each nation comes a woman holding in her arms a metal bowl that at first made me confused but I understand what they’re for at the end. And then there is, to me something new and never seen before ever in the Olympics. Introducing the Independent Olympians.

They certainty look like a bunch of fun guys. Or as twitter user b_yeager says: “The independent Olympic athletes look like fans who won a contest to walk with the countries.”

Now who are they? Well those are the people who have no nation to represent at all and are competing on behalf of the IOC (I think). This only happened three times starting in 1992 and here are various reasons for their existence but the most popular are if you came from a country that has either been dissolved or newly formed before the games. For 2012 three athletes come together and I got to say they are a really fun group.

They’re from the Netherlands Antilles which they have been out of existence since October 10, 2010 and the new nation of South Sudan (There’s a South Sudan now?) featuring this guy.

6. The Third Act

This is where it finally sucks… and then some (exceptions mentioned) of that digital age piece. It was long, forgettable and nothing of anything that I can relate to that makes the final act enjoyable. That is except for the appearance of everyone’s hero, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Yeah! work that Internet magic!

But not even his grace can save it. I can’t say much except that act can kiss my ass!

7. The Raising of the Olympic Flag/Lighting of the Torch

The flag is carried by eight peopled selected by the nation’s committee who are often significant in their contributions to society and/or culture as they raise the flag to the tune of the organization’s anthem which this time takes an instrumental approach, well done on their part. There is now the part of the lighting of the torch. Remember those lades with the metal pots? Well those were components that make the very torch itself. That was a neat surprise and hope that it stays up since it isn’t one but many torches merged as one.

8. The Final Song

Well as with every bit the show ends with a final song that gets everyone together in soothing song. It’s Hey Jude…
Conclusion

  • The Good – James Bond and the Queen, the Olympic torch and Berners-Lee
  • The Awesome – The Independents, Mr. Bean, Industrial Revolution segment and the
  • The So-So – Countdown segment
  • And The Suck – The Digital Age segment (see where I didn’t jump to bad)

The opening ceremony overall. If I were to give it a range from 1 to 10 I would sort of be in the league of 5.5 for being average. After Beijing, nothing could ever compete against it but they try until Vancouver with the miraculous second chance bit which I’ll never forget in the history of closing ceremonies. I just got to see now how they are going to end the event just as much as they have opened it. But so far they got it right. Stick around for the closing ceremony commentary.

And now I leave you with this…

Damn, I really want to join those guys. Thanks for making the four-hour spectacle worth it.

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