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Flair versus Flare

July 28, 2012

~ By Dhwani Dalal

The 2012 Summer Olympics have officially kicked off, and while London’s version of the ceremonial start was not as extravagant as the spectacle Beijing produced, it still put forth a quality effort.

Beijing was over the top and as many predicted exceeded London in visual effects and pyrotechnics. Yet, the London ceremony is difficult to compare to Beijing because they were both completely different.  Director, Danny Boyle clearly understood the challenge of competing with the opening ceremony in Beijing, and therefore took an unrelated route rather than attempting to put up a similar show. The ceremony stuck to cultural orientations, focusing on what Britain knows best – (the Industrial Revolution, literature, and of course David Beckham). The show featured British celebrities, including Bradley Wiggins, screen characters Mr. Bean, James Bond and even an acting debut from the Queen herself.

The Beijing opening ceremony had lasted over four hours and was reported to have cost over $100 million to produce. The ceremony was lauded by spectators and international presses on many accounts as “the greatest show ever”. The 2008 ceremony was grander, as it not only demonstrated the Olympian spirit but also a Chinese history that dates back thousands of years ago.

For four years, following Beijing was thought to be the most difficult task in show business. But Danny Boyle made it happen. The themes demonstrated Britain past, present and future, capturing the mind-set of a nation seeking to redefine itself after nearly a century of managed decline. Military might fading, the great empire, gone, but their sense of humour, still very much intact.

The reaction from China is quite positive too. Wang Ning, director of the Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, said he would give 90 out of 100 points to Britain. He liked the innovative ways to illustrate British culture, its influence and also its redefined image.

The Olympics are the place to pull out stops and impress with overwhelming displays. Beijing did just that. The Beijing ceremony was like Disneyland on drugs. London, on the other hand, decided to go with less flare and more theatrics. It was like watching a beautiful play. In the end, Beijing was more impressive. The Beijing ceremony had viewers dropping their jaws and wondering what was next. But that doesn’t mean London was bad. London had a quality feel to it which felt easier to connect to. Beijing was extravagant, and London was like your favourite play. It’s a story you know and remember well, but still like to be reminded of every now and then.

~ By Dhwani Dalal

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