I am still over the moon with the sheer spectacle of the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic games. You just can’t beat an agricultural, pastoral, setting that changes into the Industrial Revolution right before your eyes using the labor of 10,000 actors on a live world stage.
The entirety of the opening ceremonies were tepid and tiring, but for about 30 minutes or so at the start of the living land, the event soared to dramatic heights we have never before seen on live television. London confirmed why they are the cradle of all great dramatic theatrical presentations.
The Kenneth Branagh-led transmogrification of London from an agricultural center to one of becoming a slave to the labor of coal and industry was so alarming on a human scale that you could not believe your eyes. The world was changing right in front of you as thousands of fingers and hands and arms lifted the turf, tugged on levers and gave up their idyllic farm life for a back-breaking future filled with ash of the smoke from smothering fires.
Out of the muck of broken bones and impending deaths came the birth of iron and steel and fire and the Olympic rings were forged from the sweat of history to rise above us, indicating a higher purpose for the work we do on earth that lands in sky, and we were all reasonably humbled by the transition from dirt to twinkling starlight.
Once the Olympic rings rose above the spectacle below, the rest of the ceremony became uncomfortably odd and unfamiliar. The humanity was rinsed out of the story. Even the national healthcare section became a moment for dancing muppets rather than celebrating the incredible serious smartness of choosing to actively take care of a populace instead of leaving them to die in the streets without state-sponsored healthcare. The modern-day Hip Hoppers were not hip and appeared embarrassingly out-of-date even in the context of a sped-up history lesson.
I will forever remember the greatness of the London 2012 opening ceremonies for bringing to life the magnificent struggle to become an advanced civilization and the lesson imprinted on all of us is that it takes each of us working together, in unison, to reach our greater goal of advancing as a civilized, and cultured, nation.