Olympic Ceremony

free essayHosting Olympic Games requires a high level of understanding of the responsibility for creating the image of the country through the Organization committee. The ideas translated through the opening ceremony can help deliver and explain important features of the state, its people, nation, and policy. This ceremony not only should include the elements from sport events but it also should be connected with art, culture, and other social activities, which sometimes is not an easy thing to do (Inglis, 2008, p. 463). However, Great Britain in 2012 combined these elements successfully. The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London showed how the organizers managed to reinforce the national brand. The brand emphasizes the significant features of the British history and national character combining them with the elements of modern culture creating an image of the country, where tradition and innovation are connected in order to satisfy the needs of the people.

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Three parts of the ceremony tell three different stories, but all of them are united by the idea that the best place to live is Great Britain, and that a man can live a happy and prosperous life there. The first part talks about the history of Great Britain. The central event of this part is the Industrial Revolution. It is well known that England was the first country in the world where it took place. Putting this event at the beginning of the ceremony is not accidental. It can be a reason for national pride because the Industrial Revolution is something that helped humanity progress and make a step forward. At the same time, this opening ceremony emphasizes the other side of the Industrial Revolution. On one hand, the names of famous inventors, with whom the beginning of the revolution is connected, are mentioned there, and on the other, the picture of the unity of a man with nature is replaced with the gloomy factory pipes and the workers in dirty clothes, which shows not the happiest picture of that time. You can hear how the commentators speak about the dark and difficult period of the British history. This way, the creators of the ceremony emphasize how the life of a single person changed, the smoked with the factory soot faces together with dirty clothes create an image of a hard-working man. The importance and the greatness of the historical events are compared to the life of an ordinary man. This is the significant feature of the London ceremony, where a regular man is the center of the performance.

In order to show that not only England was the first to start the Industrial Revolution but also that the problems of a single person were still important to the government, the creators of the ceremony showed that the first trade unions and the first movement for the rights of women – suffragettes – were created in Great Britain. Also, the Pearly kings and queens appear at the stadium. They are the representatives and symbols of a charity tradition, which is connected with the name of Henry Croft, a street sweeper who collected money from the streets of London to help the poor workers. Charity is also one of the themes of the ceremony.

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The opening performance does not discuss any war victories of Great Britain, there is only an episode, where a tribute is given to the squad of recruits who died during the World War I. The other important accent of the ceremony is the attention to the problems of disabled people and the need to help them become an active part of the society. For example, Evelyn Glennie, a Scottish percussionist, who has almost lost her hearing, took part in the ceremony. Another important element is the performance of the national anthem of Great Britain by deaf children, who sang it with the help of sign language.

The first part of the ceremony ends with a video episode where Daniel Craig, who is the last actor for today who played James Bond, arrives at the Buckingham Palace to take the Queen to the ceremony, putting her into the helicopter, from which later she jumps off while it flies over the stadium. Of course, it was not the Queen herself who jumped, but the commentators state that while shooting the episodes in the Palace, it was the real Queen Elizabeth there. In this episode, the real British Queen and the fictional character James Bond are shown together. This part of the ceremony can be explained in two ways. On one hand, everything turns into a performance and becomes an entertainment, where the Queen is shown as a historical sight for tourists. Alongside the real England, exists another England, created especially for the visitors of the country and for the attraction of tourists. On the other hand, when viewing this episode as an attempt of deconstructing the image of greatness, one can see that there is a share of self-irony in considering the country and its history.

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Summarizing the ideas of the first part, it is possible to understand what are the main features of England that the creators tried to emphasize. First of all, the influence of Great Britain on the technological progress – the ceremony stresses that it was England that started it, and that it were the English who brought this progress and made it possible in the entire world. The second feature is the idea that the government is close to people in this country. The Queen, who jumps with the parachute, destroys the image of a strict ruler, and mentioning the suffragettes brings the thought that England is the country that has all conditions where the ideas of equality of rights can not only emerge but also be approved and embodied. Great Britain is shown as an open to any progress country that has the great past and as a country that wants to be one of the creators of a great future.

The second part of the ceremony is dedicated to the British National Health Service. The commentators state that the real workers of the medical institutes take part in the performance at the stadium. The accent is placed on the idea that health service in Great Britain is free, and it is the best in the world. Again, the importance of charity is emphasized; it is considered that every person of the country is engaged in it, starting with the Queen, who manages the bigger part of charity foundations, and finishing with the writer James Barrie, who has left the rights to Peter Pan to the children hospital.

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The important element of this part is the episode that sends audience to the film “Chariots of Fire.” The music composition from that picture is played by London Symphony Orchestra, and the episode from that film is translated on the screens, where the team of athletes runs along the shore. Among those sportsmen, like in the episode with the Queen and James Bond, the viewers can see Mr. Bean, another famous British fictional character, who tries to follow them. “The Chariots of Fire” is one of the films of the 1980’s, the main theme of which is the idea of the hybrid nation. The movie is dedicated to legendary British athletes that took part in the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924. Among those athletes was the Cambridge student Harold Abrahams, who in fact is a Jew and an Englishman at the same time. The problem of opposition of gaining fame for oneself or gaining it for the family, country, and nation is shown in that film. For the main character, to win means to glorify the state and to establish oneself fully as an Englishman. Of course, understanding this idea requires the knowledge of the storyline of the film, therefore, not everyone can understand what was the idea of that episode.

The question of the national, racial, and ethnical diversity is discussed in the third part of the ceremony, which starts with the phrase “Frankie and June say Tim thanks.” This part reveals how new media technologies and, first of all, Internet, which was invented by the Oxford graduate Tim Berners-Lee, change our everyday life and influence the lives of people. Tim himself appears at the end of this episode sitting in the chair by the computer. It is important to point out that for the creators of the ceremony it was more significant to show not the invention itself but the impact of the invention on the lives of ordinary people.

In the center of the stadium a house is placed. Its walls serve as a screen where the audience can see the fragments from different music videos. The main element of this part is the story of an ordinary British girl from an ordinary British family, who has lost her mobile phone and met the love of her life. The commentators state that the audience can see the traditional Saturday evening of the big British family that lives in a quite typical British house, and that the story follows an ordinary girl of that British family. At the same time, the screen shows a black girl and her family, where her father and mother have different skin colors. This way, the idea of the hybrid nation, which was discussed for the first time in the second part with the help of the film, is now shown as something that is evident and is taken for granted. England and “Englishness” is shown as not something homogeneous, the idea of the hybridity of the nation is discussed throughout the performance. This was one of the aims of the ceremony – to show the cultural and ethnical diversity of London and to celebrate multiculturalism (Inglis, 2008, p. 472).

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Watching the London Olympic ceremony can make the audience create a particular image of the country with its own features. First of all, it is the ironical way to treat own history and its achievements. Subtle humor is one of the most famous features of the British nation, and with this ceremony the creators only stressed it once again. The other important element of the ceremony is that the history of Great Britain is shown not as the triumphal movement forward with no difficulties on the way. The progress is shown, starting with the Industrial Revolution till the invention of the Internet, but the main part in it is dedicated to how these inventions influence the life of an ordinary man. The message is that the greatness of the country is measured by the quality of defense of this man, by the conditions in which this man lives, and by the willingness of the society to help the poor or disabled citizens. And Great Britain is the country that provides all these needs. Also, the importance of the memory of tragic historical events is emphasized, when not the victory in the WWI was stressed, but the greatness of the loss, thus Britain displays itself as a country that stands for peace. Emphasizing the way government fights social problems and putting a regular man in the center of the storyline of the ceremony, the creators wanted, perhaps, to show England as the country that takes care of the people. It was important to show that the problems of every man, even the disabled, are the problems of the government, and that everyone can and will be heard and lent the assistance. The happiness and satisfaction of the nation is shown as the main goal of the state.

The episode with the multiracial family and the parts that show the use of the new technologies like Internet and cellphones, the big writing “This is for everyone” at the end of the third part were included in the performance in order to create an image of England that is open to all races and nationalities, to the future progress, to show that England has made a great impact on the technological progress, and to show that there are opportunities in this country to become a successful man. In addition, the closing song of the ceremony was the song “Hey, Jude,” performed by Paul McCartney, which repeats the words “then you’ll begin to make it better.” Considering the main theme of the ceremony, this song must have been addressed not only particularly to the British or the athletes that will fight for the first places, but to all people in the world to try to make themselves and the world around them a better place.

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