Le 27 juillet, les Jeux Olympiques de Londres se sont ouverts avec une cérémonie « so british » mise en scène par Danny Boyle (le réalisateur de Slumdog Millionnaire) et saluée par la presse mondiale qui l’a qualifiée de « poétique », « fantasque »… Cette cérémonie, véritable mise à l’honneur de la Grande-Bretagne et de sa culture, fut également une réelle revanche en ces temps de crise.
On the 27th of July 2012, the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in the Olympic stadium showed a funny tableau of national pride and revealed that this nation was able to make fun of itself in front of 1 billion viewers. This ceremony opened with a lot of enthusiasm and livened up the games. It wasn’t so easy: the pessimistic Britons thought this poisoned chalice (with its £27 million of expenses) would bring them only an opportunity to show their national security problems, lack of organization, bad weather, and finally not a lot of medals.
The ceremony began with a bucolic and blossoming scene accompanied by United Kingdom’s anthems and Shakespeare’s poetry. Then the industrial revolution disrupted this first picture with chaos, energy and efficiency. The importance of this scene underlined Britain’s pride in this historical period. Indeed they showed the way with innovation and economic prosperity. They also demonstrated they had kept their famous humour: the Queen who had just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, pretended to parachute (replaced by a stunt) into the Olympic stadium with James Bond (embodied by Daniel Craig), one of the British cinema’s most famous characters. Besides “M. Beans” took part not only in the music but also in the movie referring to “Chariots of Fire” (one of the only real references to Olympic sports).
Afterwards they showed their pride in the National Health Service and the Gosh children’s hospital (Great Ormond Street Hospital), founded in 1852, which is known internationally for receiving the rights to the book Peter Pan. In this scene with children, Britons enhanced their literature: Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland made an apparition in the stadium. And the last scene represented a typical view of a British family, more particularly with the presentation of the British television soap opera “Eastender” (broadcast for 27 years). They paid a tribute to the British music from the 60s to nowadays: Queen, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Muse, Amy Winehouse and the famous “Hey Jude” by Paul McCartney. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web (a British figure!) came to the stage. Finally the Olympic torch was lit by 7 young athletes and each country’s delegation marched in front of the crowd.
This ceremony was not only a great mega show, but it was also a real, strong and powerful homage to the British culture. Even if the international press could have qualified it as a “private joke”, newspapers from the whole world were so seduced that they gave only very good reviews. With this ceremony, differences are made visible between a developing country like China which in 2008 showed its brand-new power and influence or the Nazi dictatorship in 1936, and a former great power like Great Britain able to present itself in a humble and ironical way.
At last despite its deep crisis, Great Britain proved the world that everyone was familiar with its culture and it was still a reference. It became a special moment as all battles and tensions vanished to make place to a feeling of global joy and international union.
Julie FEOLA & Laure FOURNIS