Thoughts On The Opening Ceremony, By A Ceremony Volunteer

Ya know that feeling when you've been keeping something a secret for three months and then finally it's broadcast on TV for millions upon millions of people to see and you just want to curl up into a ball and cry over its perfection?

It's an odd sort of feeling. Not only did I get to see the growth and development of the opening ceremony, but I've lived with knowledge of it and invested in it. I've become protective, and if you say something negative about my baby I have to stifle the urge to ram your words back down your throat.

What I think is really interesting that the only criticisms I've seen from people I follow on Twitter are about things they don't understand. My personal favorite is, "So these completely irrelevant people are going to light the cauldron?" Oh sweetie, stop talking. But I'll get back around to the cauldron-lighting later.

When the media released that the beginning of the ceremony would, in essence, be a field, I was secretly thrilled. I do enjoy keeping a great secret and knowing things that other people don't, so as the Brits worked themselves into a tizzy about how awful this ceremony was going to be, I got to enjoy the knowledge that the field would be stripped away in a matter of 15 minutes and be overtaken by seven chimneys that rise out of the ground. I'll never forget seeing that pre-vis for the first time; my goosebumps had goosebumps. I knew that if the ceremony could be as good as I imagined it could be, there wouldn't have to be any concerns about being overshadowed by Beijing.

Danny Boyle said that the spectacle of Beijing took the pressure off of him and allowed him to go and do his own thing. In doing so, I think he both allowed London's ceremony to completely stand in its own category, as well as gave Beijing a run for its money. Beijing went for sheer scale in terms of people; London went for sheer scale in terms of scenery. Beijing had a man run around the top of the stadium and light the cauldron; London's cauldron was lit on the ground. Beijing went for awe; London went for fun. Both absolutely amazing, yet completely different.

All of the criticisms I saw were from Americans, so maybe it's the five months of British in me, or maybe it's the fact that I got to personally hear Danny Boyle talk about his vision, but I absolutely loved everything. There were so many different feelings and moods conveyed, from the serene to the serious, but never did you get the feeling that it was taking itself too seriously. Beijing was always mildly terrifying and intimidating, but even as smokestacks were rising from the ground I didn't get the feeling that London was trying to do anything but impress us and tell its history.

And please, tell me that the forging of the giant Olympic rings wasn't the coolest thing you've ever seen.

After that, it was just plain fun. Dancing nurses and kids jumping on beds and GIANT VOLDEMORT! A four-decade retrospective of British music with crazy costumes! Mr. Bean! It was a party of awesome British things.

But then, of course, there was a great measure of poignancy. NBC decided to be awful and cut a memorial dance for the people killed in the 7/7 terrorist attack mere days after London was awarded the Olympics. I watched it online and it was absolutely beautiful. I'd also never been brought to tears by a torch relay and cauldron lighting before, but I LOVED what London did. At first I was a little bit confused, but when those kids hugged their aging mentors, who handed each of them a torch and watched them light the cauldron in front of over 200 former Olympians... Oh my gosh. Talk about symbolism. They were literally passing the torch. London's shtick has been that this is the Olympics for the young generation, and having the cauldron lit by young, up-and-coming athletes was emotional and significant and flawlessly appropriate. And the cauldron was comprised of petals, one carried out by each nation as its athletes marched, so each nation has a part in the cauldron. Amazing.

I couldn't be prouder to have my name in the program of this amazing ceremony, and I will be eagerly awaiting the DVD!

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