Literature in the Olympic Opening Ceremony

July 30, 2012

When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very real

As I was watching the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies I couldn’t help be impressed with the presentation, scope, audacity and vision of the program. While some of my friends didn’t care for the program I thought it was brilliant. The ceremony was not meant to glorify the Olympic Games but for the English to boast about their country, promote tourism and welcome nations while navigating the viewers and guests through exciting numbers which include history, culture and literature all set to a wonderfully rich soundtrack.

It was heartwarming to see the program recognize the great contributions to literature which have come from England. Starting with J.K. Rowling reading a favored selection from Peter Pan mentioned above (and doing a beautiful job, by the way) to Danny Boyle, the director, including many children’s books in the segment. I recognized characters from Lord Voldemort – main villain in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Mary Poppins – heroine of the books by P.L. Travers, The Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (yes, “thatIan Fleming), and Cruela deVil from 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.

The segment had an obvious reference to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. This is a children’s hospital which J. M. Barry has donated all future Peter Pan proceeds. See my Fun Facts Friday about J. M. Barry for more info.

Not everything was flawless, but none of it was the fault of the English. The Olympic Committee did not hold a moment of silence, as requested by many of its members for the Israeli athletes massacred at the Munich games 40 years ago. The coverage in the United States by NBC was absolutely horrendous. Those in power decided that the US crowds need not see a tribute to the 7/7 London bombing, only to be bored to tears by the one millionth interview with Michael Phelps (you can see the wonderful tribute here). The morons in NBC had no good excuse which caused social media to explode with the #NBCFail hashtag (see the “best of…“). The “hosts”, which are usually good in their daily jobs (Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer) did a horrible job, reading mechanically idiotic facts off cue cards and not shutting up for a second.

Next time – talking should commence when the athletes take the fields.

Last but not least Let’s not forget James Bond – yes, they were books by Ian Fleming before the movies. Mr. Boyle managed an entry for the head of state which was not only memorable, but one of the highlights of the ceremony.

So tell me, what did you think?

Zohar – Man of la Book

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  • Lisa July 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Yea – I haven’t found anyone else who recognized the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

  • Ryan July 31, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I missed the opening ceremonies. I think I’ll have to find them online and give it a watch. Sounds kinda cool.

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