Today marks four years since the London 2012 Olympics opened in spectacular style with an Opening Ceremony that surpassed expectations and challenged the boundaries of what is possible in an live event. Thousands of people were involved in the evening, masterminded by Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, and now is a fitting point to look back at the wonders we remember so well.
I vividly remember the countdown to the ceremony on screen, 60 diverse photos of numbers from across the capital, perhaps even the country. I was sat alongside some of my greatest friends during my favourite week of the year, Bredon, and were treated to the most amazing hour of shocks, surprises and stunning stagecraft. The opening segment ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ gives a sweeping overview of British history with impressive effects and a phenomenal scale of organisation with the numerous volunteers on stage. ‘Happy and Glorious’ is perhaps my favourite segment, showing the love we have for the royals and the willingness of the Queen to have a comedic part in the proceedings. The small touches, like a small look inside Buckingham Palace and the presence of Brazilian tourists, gave this section extra charm, even if it was pretty clear that the person jumping out of the plane wasn’t actually our monarch.
‘Second to the right, and straight on till morning’ was the last section I saw live and I was underwhelmed at first. However, on a second or third watch it certainly is spectacular, featuring staff and patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital and a stunning display of logos and pictures via lights on hospital beds. The combination with children’s literature and the appearance of J. K. Rowling makes this an even more magical and captivating part of the show, reflecting the transfer of stories into reality in the minds of children.
I missed out of Rowan Atkinson’s starring role in Chariots of Fire first time around, due to being in bed, but when I did see it there was a further sense of amazement and laughter as Atkinson wins the famous race from Chariots of Fire. As a music lover the ceremony really reflects the rich musical heritage that the UK has to offer and this permeates the rest of the ceremony, including the Parade of Nations. The later parts of the ceremony didn’t capture my attention or imagination as much as the first hour, but they are still just as well crafted, if a bit repetitive to watch when you reach the athletes entrances.
Four years on there’s a lot that has changed, both personally and on a national level. Four years ago I had just left secondary school with a broken relationship with my best friend and a pending operation date for spinal fusion. Now, I have plenty of friends (including the one whose friendship I’d lost for years ago), am almost four years post-spinal fusion and am starting my final year at university with many more blessings and far less anxiety than when the Olympics were in London. On a national scale, who could forget the recent Brexit, the changes in student loans and many other non-political differences that have appeared over such a short time. On that note, I’d like to leave you with this article from Buzzfeed about the hope seen from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony for today’s Britain. And now it’s time to look forward to the hope of success in this year’s Rio Olympics!