Sunday, 29 July 2012
Monkey business - 1
First things first, here's a link to Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony which the BBC have kindly broken up into 20 sections, which makes it a bit easier to narrate. The first hour or so is covered below, I will get the rest done over the coming week. Any feedback or extra info would be appreciated, I will attempt to sum it up at the conclusion.
The presenters were Huw Williams, Hazel Irvine and Trevor Nelson
Section 1 is titled introduction. We see an arial set of the stadium. In only lasts a few seconds.
Section 2 is titled Green and Pleasant. Huw mentions that it portrays revolutions and their effect on British society. We see maypoles, a water wheel, an orchestra, a clip of a weather forecast, cricket, and last, but not least, Glastonbury Tor and the solitary tree allegedly planted by Joseph of Arimathea. Huw reminds us again that "the industrial revolution changed Britain and the world". A countdown of numbers begins, each an image from the public's elsewhere - bus numbers, shop numbers, and suchlike. Suddenly, we are under water, submerged, before surfacing at a grave-like stone which reads: "Isles of Wonder" - "this stone was placed here to mark the source of the river Thames". A perhaps symbolic dragonfly leads the way from the head of the river as we rapidly meander downstream; boys are fishing for minnows or sticklebacks, poppies are imaged, 30 pub beer garden umbrellas open, it's idyllic, we see geese, boaters, and a flying pig. We flash back to the Olympic stadium to glimpse 11-a-side cricket then off again, now in London central, with Big Ben and other infamous landmarks. Only the first line of the Sex Pistols', God Save the Queen, is played, there is no mention of any "fascist regime".
The Clash song, London Calling, comes on as we travel though a tunnel, before poster advertisements for previous games appear. Then we are in the stadium, balloons are bursting on a countdown from 10, two of the number six don't burst however. "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to London". Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins comes on stage, bows, and rings a giant bell. A young boy sings Jerusalem as we see more cricket and, tellingly, beekeepers. We cut to Ireland and the Giant's Causeway where a choir are singing Danny Boy, then to Edinburgh Castle for another choir and Flower of Scotland. The camera focuses on a young black boy, scarce up here. Then to Wales for Bread of Heaven.
We are back in the stadium; from a horse drawn coach, advertising biscuits, Isambard Kingdom Brunel decants, Sir Kenneth Branagh playing the role. He looks up at the Glastonbury Tor, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is being sung by the in-house, black infused choir - a song accredited to Wallis Willis who was inspired by the Biblical 2 Kings 2-11. More Jerusalem is played. Three people are imaged, they look puzzled or afraid. "Brunel" is on the Tor, he is reciting Caliban from Shakespeare's Tempest, " Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises". Huw fills us in on that.
Suddenly loud drumming is heard. We cut to a mad lady beating madly on a drum kit, and other "drummers" using metal buckets. The tree at the top of the Tor rises, we symbolically see it's roots and, from the gap, people climb out and down. Huw reminds us of the industrial revolution again and how Britain was the "workshop of the world". We are moving from the agricultural revolution into section 3, titled Pandemonium - we are picking up our boots.
Giant chimneys pop up, two at first. Huw refers to them as "smoking stacks". Huw further advises us that they "created wealth", but he does not expand. Trevor Nelson calls it a "history lesson" and suggests the viewer "turns up the volume". Hazel reminds us of the source of the word pandemonium - Milton's Paradise Lost. Suffragettes appear. More chimneys; there are now five. The agricultural props are being carried out. Huw advises that a "pause" is imminent, to commemorate those lost in military campaigns. We see more poppies and soldiers. More noise, then a posse of top-hatted gentleman appear. I don't see any ladies amongst them. One imagines that they are represent the factory and sweatshop owners of the time. A boat appears, Huw advises it is the "Windrush", which carried the first load of immigrants to Britain, in 1948 just after the war, from "West India". He doesn't mention that it arrived on Midsummer's Day, 64 years ago. (Prince Wills birthday - hermetically speaking, given 1948 was a leap year). It's maybe symbolic of a chessboard. Or that it is reverse colonisation with a purpose.
We focus on a smelting operation, creating the Olympic rings. It reminds me of a tadpole, or a little sperm shape, as the molten metal travels down a small stream to the ring. The camera pans out, then back in. It seems perhaps sexual, given Brunel is again imaged, looking chuffed as he smokes a cigar. Huw reminds us, once again, of the "wealth and industry" created at the time. Suddenly, a group of pearly kings and queens appear, Huw tells how they are the "other Royal Family". The workers are still forging the rings whilst we cross to the Tor again, it is jam packed with suffragettes, the top-hat crew, and the drummers. "Brunel" is there too, he again looks chuffed. The rings float up into the sky, Hazel calls it "organised chaos", whilst stating that the "moment will live with us forever". Huw notes that "the Olympic rings have beeen forged", as they drop sparks from the sky. A man is watching adorned in welding mask and goggles, somehow I think of Day of the Triffids, not sure why. We cut back to Brunel and the rest, all ogling the sky, transfixed. Maybe that's why. Two people appear to ascend into the heavens and vanish. Huw reminds us that the rings symbolise "a union of five continents", Hazel gushes that it is "dynamic".
Suddenly it's section 4, Happy and Glorious. We cut to a tailor, he is cutting too, a patch with Happy and Glorious embroidered upon it. We see it displayed on a red military uniform. A tune is playing, I think the theme-tune of the Antiques Roadshow television programme, as we realise we are at Buckingham Palace. A group of children rush to one of the windows in the palace as a taxi arrives, registration H315 XYW. It carries another number - it's licence - 38092. My OCD kicks in and I realise it's a subliminal double 11, and that the XYW forms two triangles; whilst 007 James Bond jumps out. He enters the Palace and is ushered to HM the Queen, as her corgi dogs cavort. It's exactly 8.30pm. The Queen is at her bureau, she leaves the room with Bond a respectful couple of steps behind whilst her dogs bound ahead. The humans go out the French doors and enter a helicopter, we look down to see the corgis pining on the doorstep.
The flight is over London landmarks. Big Ben again, whilst a Winston Churchill statue comes alive - it appears to be waving a stick, or maybe wand; it is magical. The 'copter flies through Tower Bridge and onto the stadium. Huw tells us this is a short film made by the BBC called "Happy and Glorious", whilst it seems we have reached section 5, titled HM the Queen.
The helicopter hovers whilst a pair of stunt doubles create the illusion that Bond and the Queen have parachuted out. The Bond theme tume plays. The Queen appears, along with the Duke of Edinburgh, at her seat in the stadium. The Olympic president is also there as is Rowan Williams, druid and Archbishop of Canterbury - the man who married William and Kate. We cut to the stadium as a giant Union flag (jack) is carried in by the military. Huw reminds us of the military involvment - "18,000 troops deployed so far".
The military march to the Tor. Huw reads the participating members names out. A "signing" choir called Kaos sing God Save the Queen in their pyjamas. The Union flag is slowly hoisted. We cut to the Queen and then to a book page - "second to the right and straight on till morning", it reads. Huw advises that it is time for the tribute to "children's literature and the NHS" whilst Mike Oldfield appears, him of Tubular Bells fame. It seems we are in section 7 which, mysteriously, is also titled Happy and Glorious.
The arena is allegedly full of NHS staff with some dancers and actors. They form the word GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital). Children in hospital beds are abundant. There's a lot of dancing and it all goes dark. Hermes worshipping JK Rowling, transpires, reading "quotes from JM Barrie". Green eyed uber-hairy monkey-like entities appear too, a load of them. A giant cage is paraded. Hazel takes the opportunity to remind us of Rowling's philanthropy as she notes the appearance of a giant puppet Voldemort, from the Potter stable, alongside the child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A bed, equipped with child, floats up towards Voldemort as Trevor states that he "really likes the use of children", and, although it is a "dark ceremony", "the light around the beds is a big contradiction". A host of Mary Poppins then float down from the sky on their umbrellas and chase the baddies away. Voldemort deflates and the children on their beds dance. The Nanny State is good. Trevor mentions the light again in respect of some sort of audience-participating "little hand lights". Hazel adds that the wiring for them "took 40 days to install". The Poppinses tuck the children in, the giant Voldemort puppet now resembles a sleeping child. We close with just the children, sadly the bed frames resemble prison bars.
Onto section 8 - Mr Bean and Chariots of Fire. Rowan Atkinson, the actor that plays Bean, is involved, playing the fool, as well as a keyboard. Behind him is a red rucksack. He bends down at one point and one can see a soft drink container sticking out the top of it. It has a red pentagram logo, with the two points upwards, rather than the three. A straw is inserted (which is why I thought soft drink, not coffee) at a 33 degree angle. Bean looks at his phone for a bit during the recital, and also uses an umbrella to facilitate playing whilst he retrieves a paper hanky from the bag. We cut to the infamous Chariots of Fire beach race scene, Bean is again involved. He cheats and wins, however we find it's a dream.
We move on, to a red mini, a blonde lady, and a mixed race child. Without skirting, the vehicle registration is TBL 2012. I think TBL= trouble. It parks outside an house which has appeared/inflated in the arena. Michael Fish (a once prominent weatherman) appears on a giant video screen and states "hurricane on the way". He then retracts it. Huw tells us that this is the "digital age" coming as we cut to the Sugababes - "press my button"and clips of old comedy shows including Blackadder (which involved Atkinson too). Trevor Nelson says there's a music montage coming up and the Jam's, Going Underground, plays. We cut to a clips of a (Scottish) film called Gregory's Girl and images of Charlie Chaplin appear. Things are speeding up. A love/romance story is emerging too, involving two young people and a lost 'phone. The Who's, My Generation, plays. Dancers abound, the majority in bright colours, some in vaguely pyramidical chequerboard dresses. My Boy Lollipop plays, then the Kinks and the Beatles. The dancers/performers create a giant CND sign. Scenes from the movie Kes are displayed. More dancers appear, again mostly brightly coloured, this time the others wear figure-hugging chequerboard body suits. Trevor advises Hazel that it's "damned if you do, damned if you don't" in connection with remembering the music playlist. Bowie's Starman is played as three "aliens" ascend, back?, into the sky. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody is next, as the performers form a "star", just like the one on Bean's drink carton. Freddie Mercury's face is beamed on the house, I start thinking astro-logically in terms of messengers, Mercury, and HM's "death" - in favour of Wills.
Pretty Vacant sounds potentially apt at this stage so, synchronistically, the Pistols are back again, whilst giant mohican-haired puppets pogo-dance. Images of John Lydon are shown, the same John who booked the Lockerbie Pan-Am flight, but never flew. Then it's some New Order, with Frankie goes to Hollywood's, Relax, whilst the "house" transforms into a giant speaker. It looks like a giant eye, watching. Time for the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams, before the Prodigy and their Firestarter. The singer is dressed in a US stars and stripes bastardisation. Flames appear everywhere and Underworld's Born Slippy comes on. We cut to a scene from Trainspotting, Edinburgh's Princes Street, just across from the Castle. The song Blowing Bubbles is next, whilst our lost phone love story concludes with a kiss. The "house" shows images of Hugh Grant kissing, Kate and William kissing, some Disney kisses, more Kate and Wills, and a human kissing a monkey in a scene from Planet of the Apes.
It's time for Section 9, Dizzee Rascal. Will leave it there for now.
J B pillars image - Freemasonry - Boaz and Jachin (JB)
wiki - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
wiki - The Tempest
wiki - Windrush
wiki - Pearly Kings and Queens