Opening Ceremony 2012: Why London Olympics Won't Match Beijing Spectacle

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJuly 26, 2012

Photo Courtesy of the London Daily Mail
Photo Courtesy of the London Daily Mail

The Games of the XXX Olympiad officially get underway on Friday evening with the opening ceremonies. The show put on by Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle will certainly be dramatic, but Boyle and the Brits have little chance of outdoing the spectacle put on by the Chinese in Beijing four years ago.

Boyle has been very secretive about details for the $42 million extravaganza dubbed "The Isles of Wonder," which will be viewed by an estimated one billion people worldwide according to The Daily Mail.

A few details seem certain, such as the fact that the ceremony will conclude with a performance of "Hey Jude" by Sir Paul McCartney.

However, rumors have run rampant in the UK regarding what the rest of the show might entail, with one of the more fantastic being a report by The Sunday Times via Entertainment Weekly that part of the ceremony will feature a "40-foot tall Voldemort doing battle with an army of Mary Poppins'."

Yep, you read that right. A spoonful of medicine indeed.

60,000 lucky fans were treated to a sneak preview of the opening ceremonies Tuesday evening. Boyle did his best to insure that details of the show weren't leaked by imploring attendees not to tweet about the event, going so far as to create the hashtag #savethesurprise in an effort to keep things under wraps.

That seemed to do the trick with the majority of attendees, but it didn't stop The Daily Mail from publishing photos taken inside Olympic stadium, an act that didn't go over nearly as well in the twitterverse as the rehearsal itself.

If you've got plans Friday night, cancel them. Opening ceremony is out of this world. Danny Boyle, I salute you.#olympics #savethesurprise

— petehendrick (@petehendrick) July 23, 2012

I will #savethesurprise, but will just say that Danny Boyle's #london2012 opening ceremony is splendidly British and magnificently bonkers.

— Jill Lawless (@JillLawless) July 23, 2012

The Daily Mail obviously hasn't yet grasped the grown-up concept "Just because you can doesn't mean you should". #savethesurprise

— Tim Wakeling (@timwakeling) July 19, 2012

I'll leave it to the reader to decide for themselves whether to click the link to The Daily Mail above that contains the "spoiler" pictures, and I'll admit I'm intrigued by the idea of a "magnificently bonkers" ceremony.

However, no matter what Boyle has up his proverbial sleeve, it's all but certainly not going to top the visual marvel that opened the Beijing Games in 2008.

As relayed by the BBC back in 2008, the Beijing opening ceremonies were unlike anything the Olympics had ever seen.

The four-hour show featured a dazzling fireworks display that combined pyrotechnics and computer-generated effects, 2,008 percussionists playing lighted drums in unison and over 15,000 tightly choreographed performers and musicians that performed a nearly hour-long sequence highlighting China's 5,000-year history.

Oh, and according to Xinhuanet the Chinese used "weather modification technology" to make sure it didn't rain.

I'm surprised they didn't roll out an actual living, fire-breathing dragon in the middle of the arena and have it light the Olympic torch.

The price tag for this pageant was reportedly a cool $100 million, and the ceremony was hailed as a tremendous success, with The Guardian stating via the AFP that "the ceremony that opened the 29th Olympic Games outdid all of its predecessors in numbers, colour, noise and expense."

This isn't to say that the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Games won't be a rousing success in its own right, as I'm sure that Boyle has a tremendous show planned for Friday night.

It just won't be Beijing, because some things can't be topped.

Unless, of course, you happen to have a dragon handy.


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