An alternative opening ceremony for the Olympics
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — Having watched the July 27 opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad on television, and having read Danny Boyle spent $42 million to produce that spectacle, I had the altogether unwarranted and vain notion that I could produce a shorter version, but one more compelling. While there were moments of the London extravaganza that were truly unforgettable–such as the skit starring the Queen of England in which she, accompanied by James Bond (actor Daniel Craig), arrived in the stadium by parachute (or at least her body double did) –the story became too confusing and crowded as the stadium’s internal landscape changed from that of agricultural England to that of the industrial revolution to that of Britain’s scary story books to that of British pop music. No, no, I thought, better a single story line, consistent with the theme of the Olympics, all the while showcasing the glories of the United Kingdom.
Remember, please, I was sleep deprived as this scenario unfolded in my mind.
In the four corners of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) the whispered calls go forth, prompting people in modern and folkloric pursuits to abandon what they are doing in order to suit up in armor and to follow iconic figures who ride as knights or ladies at the head of their respective assemblages. These leaders perform a few well chosen equestrian stunts along the way as they pass the famous sites of their lands. Their colorful armies – emboldened by stirring regional anthems–converge into the stadium, brandishing their swords and spears high over their heads. Emerging from the stands at the cardinal points of the stadium, these resolute soldiers watch silently, some in awe, some in prayer, as their knight and lady champions ride toward each other at full gallop, lances in front of them.
Now this part will take a little practice, but instead of jousting each other off their horses, the knights and ladies dip their lances and with their points pick up the four corners of a large flag–the Olympic banner– which they in teamwork unfurl high and ride with together around the stadium, cheers breaking out from their respective armies as they pass. The banner is affixed to a large flagpole and the knights and ladies return to their quarters.
Now, a bugler sounds “Charge!” and the armies with a tumultuous yell dash towards each other in a frenzy, their swords and spears lifted high. Before they get to each other however, they come to a large pit, into which they simultaneously hurl their swords. As they watch, a giant steam hammer comes down (by pulley) from the heavens, and with assistance from the assembled armies (with great elaboration, they pull switches press buttons, and do other Rube Goldberg-style things), the hammer begins to beat the metal in the pit. The beat of the steam hammer is transformed into joyous music. Cue the London Symphony. And then, under a cloud of steam the swords and spears are transformed into — what else –two giant Transformer Knights, which then fold out, down, and over and are thereby themselves transformed into a large agricultural tractor and an equally large robotic fruit-picking machine.
Lest anyone miss the point, the tractor and robotic fruit picker spread out another banner, this one reading ”Isaiah 2:4.”
Entering the stadium at this point is the Olympic torchbearer, whose progress has been monitored on the stadium screens. The torch would be used to light arrows from archers of the four armies. The flaming arrows would be fired in synchronized manner into the same pit from which the tractor and robotic fruit picker previously had emerged. A large flame would be ignited in the pit and mechanized pillars would lift the flaming Olympic cauldron into the air. (Okay that part was directly stolen from Boyle’s rendition.)
From points all over the stadium, white doves would be released, and then all eyes would turn to her majesty, the queen. “Let the games begin… and may peace among our nations forever reign,” she would declare.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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