Friday, 27 July 2012

Sunshine On A Rainy Day [Olympic Opening Ceremony]

Danny Boyle is about to premiere his latest production – not a movie but a stage show, the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.
Is Boyle, or any movie director, the right person to direct this type of show? The answer is: if anyone is. Making a feature film requires collaboration between hundreds, or thousands, of different artists and professionals, while still retaining a clear artistic direction. I think that almost by definition the director has to be an egotist and a control freak, otherwise the artistic direction won’t survive and you end up with something designed by committee which we all know is a bad thing. Filmmaking also needs understanding of how a complex narrative can be told, without words, through a short montage or a single moving image (moving in both senses). So for making the ceremony clear and meaningful, and for keeping the team together, a movie director is probably a good choice.
Boyle in particular? Absolutely. Danny Boyle has made movies on a shoestring, so should know how to make the best use of a limited budget. His movies are full of striking visuals: the opening shots of post-apocalyptic London in 28 Days Later, the space environments of Sunshine or the vibrant scenes of Indian life in Slumdog Millionaire. You could also argue that, unlike a few other present-day directors, his mastery of the visual spectacle doesn’t compensate for a lack of emotion or meaning.
Along with many in this country, and a certain high-profile visitor from the US, I have at times been cynical about the Olympics. We have had a few amusing failures – G4S has still failed to supply a single promised ED-209 enforcement droid so we are now recruiting seven year olds with Nerf guns for crowd control duties, and it’s fair to say we haven’t had such aggressive branding since the 1936 games.
However as the opening ceremony approaches I find myself in a more optimistic position. Stratford has been seriously smartened up and the expanded platforms and rail links are all in place. We’ve got a cable car! We’ve built all of our sports venues on time, only slightly over-budget, and for the most part they look pretty good. Tickets are selling out in seconds and the Torch relay really has brought people on to the streets.
Also, the 100m and 200m are probably wrapped up, but in other sports we actually have some decent contestants in the running, amongst them a Tour de France winner, a Wimbledon finalist, and a world class football team (yes, obviously I do mean the ladies’ team).
Whatever form the Opening Ceremony takes tonight, I’m sure it will be quirky, eccentric and personal, will not feature CGI-enhanced fireworks or dubbed performances, and will be fun to watch. So, in the words of another great American statesman, it’s time to let the sun in and shine on us, because today we’re happy and tomorrow we’ll be happier.

No comments: