Where Were They?
Review of the London Olympics opening 2012, by Stefan Stenudd
The London Olympics opening ceremony was quite spectacular, of course, but the four hours left me wondering: where was everybody? Not much of a line-up, considering what Great Britain has got in store.
There are two countries in the world that have produced a number of world famous artists completely unrivaled by the rest of the nations: the United States and the United Kingdom. Much of it has to do with the simple fact that we are as familiar with their language as we were with Latin in the past millenniums. Anyway, when London holds the Olympic Games, they can show up a splendid cavalcade of superstars. So, why didn't they?
I heard music by David Bowie and Pink Floyd just to mention two, but they were nowhere in sight. We got taped versions. That was true for the whole rhapsody of English pop through the past 50 years. Recordings – how boring is that?
Paul McCartney (an easily predicted presence) had to represent them all, which he did with his usual splendor, commencing with the legendary bars from Abbey Road, where he sings:
And in the end,
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
That's worth pondering for quite a while. Then he did Hey Jude, which was the greatest hit the Beatles ever had, when they were still a band. Not bad, but far from satisfying, considering the fountain at the London Olympic disposal.
I saw several references to Harry Potter in the sequence about children's stories, and J K Rowling read a few lines from Peter Pan, but why didn't Daniel Radcliffe make an appearance? That would surely please the kids more.
There were still some strong moments in the four hour show, such as the somber transformation of the stage into industrial society, looking very much like a horror vision from Dante's Divina Commedia, and the dance symbolizing the struggle between life and death. But each passing hour I was more and more frustrated by all that could be there and wasn't.
The show, in all its spectacle, became one of absence.
July 28, 2012
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