Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 London Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony (entire ceremony)

The Games of the XXX Olympiad
London, England

Underneath the Olympic Cauldron of the 2012 Olympics in London

Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First to Use LED Screen Effects in Stadium Seating
  • First Emphasizing Live Film Production
  • First to Use Livestock
  • First to Cover the Stadium Floor in an Interchangeable Stage
  • First Summer Olympic Ceremony to Not Sing the Current Olympic Hymn (instrumental version performed: this version of the Olympic Hymn was performed in 1896, 1960-present)
  • First Olympic Cauldron Assembled During the Ceremony
  • First Person to Open Two Summer Olympic Games - Queen Elizabeth II (Montreal 1976)
  • Most Olympic Games Opened by One Person  - 2 (tie - Queen Elizabeth II: 2012 London, 1976 Montreal - Adolf Hitler: 1936 Berlin, 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Giovanni Gronchi:1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo, 1960 Rome - Hirohito: 1964 Tokyo, 1972 Sapporo)
  • Most Olympic Events (302) - tie Beijing 2008 (302)
Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Torch White-water Rafted
  • First Torch Carried on Zip Wire
  • Most Torchbearers to Light the Cauldron (7) - Previous Seoul 1988 (3)
Opening Ceremony
Olympic Stadium (62,000)
July 27, 2012

Official Report
No Official Report ... yet

Complete Video
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If video doesn't load click here or here

Opening Ceremony Highlights
The Opening Ceremony in London was one of the most anticipated ceremonies in Olympic history.  Following the immense spectacle of the Beijing Olympics, the London games had a smaller budget but made great innovations.  Most notable, the ceremony was cinematically produced - the television broadcast of the event was the primary artistic goal.  Unfortunately, several broadcasts around the world did little to help the ceremony's artistic descriptions.  In the USA, NBC did not broadcast the event live, they omitted one of the most emotionally intense artistic segments (Abide with Me) commemorating those lost in London bombings in 2005 (the day after London won the right to host the Olympics), and commentary was substantially inconsiderate toward the descriptions of many nations (Australia introduced as a penal colony; Madagascar was noted for the movies named after it; and many of the nations were mispronounced); among other gaffes, NBC also made jokes about not knowing the inventor of the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee) and belittled his importance.  Berners-Lee was one of Time's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.  

Notwithstanding the embarrassing commentary of the American broadcasters, the London Opening Ceremony could likely be more influential than Beijing.  Beijing, while they created a spectacular show, did little to advance artistic innovation.  London will likely set a precedent for future ceremonies in their cinematic nature and in the advancement of LED screen technology which created several spectacular effects within the stadium.  While the ceremony was a great spectacle of the British pop culture, unfortunately it did little to showcase their rich classical music history and choral music history.  The choirs selected to perform were of modest quality compared to the rich traditions of the British and to a musician (like myself) I was certainly unimpressed that the country with the richest choral tradition in the world decided to be the first Summer Games to not sing the Olympic Anthem; little ceremonial British pomp was displayed and instead many hilarious moments were infused throughout - certainly entertaining, the lightheartedness of it was highly criticized in the world press however.  London will certainly be remembered for their hilarious stunts and sometimes bizarre images, but they made several great advancements in the ceremonial art and perhaps have created a new path for future ceremonies to tread - will the Olympic ceremonies continue in this new cinematic style or will Rio return to the mass performance tradition of Beijing?

Quick review:
  • Red Arrows jets perform aerial stunts
  • "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations by Elgar performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
  • "Isle of Wonder" artistic segment
    • Video (tracing the River Thames with pastoral shots in the stadium, which is arranged in a typical English countryside)
    • Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner, rings the Olympic Bell (first since the infamous games of 1936)
    • Children's Choirs perform hymns from the four countries of the UK (Jerusalem - England, Danny Boy - Northern Ireland, Flower of Scotland - Scotland, Bread of Heaven - Wales)
    • Men in Victorian dress enter and transform the "Green and Pleasant Land" into "Pandaemonium" (the capitol of Hell in Paradise Lost) symbolizing the Industrial Revolution
    • Olympic Rings forged and raised
  • Video of James Bond escorting the actual Queen Elizabeth onto a helicopter, actors base jump from helicopter above the stadium
  • Queen of England arrives with dignitaries
  • National Anthem performed by the Kaos Singing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children
  • "Isle of Wonder" artistic segment ctd.
    • National Health Service segment with nurses and children dancing on beds
    • Children's dreams and nightmare segment featuring prominent figures in British literature
    • "Chariots of Fire" performed with comedic routine by Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean
    • British Pop Culture segment featuring pop music and television of the past century with dancers and subplot love story
    • "Abide with Me" performed Emeli Sande with dance by Akram Khan commemorating those lost in the 7/17 London terrorist attack in 2005, the day after London won the election to host the games (not aired in the US)
  • Parade of Nations
  • "I Bet you Look Good on the Dancefloor" and the Beattle's "Come Together" performed by the Arctic Monkeys as doves on bikes ride and fly among the athletes
  • Queen of England declares the games open
  • Olympic Flag raised to the Olympic Hymn (unsung)
  • Olympic Oaths taken
  • Olympic Flame arrives at the stadium; Cauldron lit by seven young athletes: Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds, and Adelle Trace
  • "Hey Jude" performed by Paul McCartney
2012 London Olympic Gold Medal

Torch from the 2012 London Olympics

Official Logo of the 2012 London Olympics
London 2012 Olympic Cauldron
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London
Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London

Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London


  1. I know you don't have a video up yet, but I'd like to request that you try to get a video that shows the portion of the ceremony that most American's probably missed because it was excluded in the recording. I am American, and I would like to see it in it's entirety, including parts that NBC left out (abide with me). After watching the Beijing opening in 2008, I had a hard time believing that anyone could ever top them. They did an incredible job! It would be a shame if London did better than most people think but weren't able to appreciate it fully because of bad broadcasting.

    I do apologize on behalf of my fellow Americans for being inconsiderate of other countries and their cultures. Not all of us are like that.


    1. I watched it on BBC and it was amazing, I've also watched the US version and the commentary is much better on the BBC, it really shows and explains the depth of Danny Boyle's intricate vision for the ceremony. Whereas the US version felt a little confusing.
      Its a shame that everyone compares the rote discipline from China to the comic eccentricity of Britain, it's like comparing apples and oranges; both perfect representations of their countries values, history and culture.

  2. I will second Valerie's comments about NBC's pathetic coverage. Unfortunately, we Americans have to put up with their utter ignorance during Olympics coverage until at least 2020.

    As for the ceremony itself; while there were parts where I thought Danny Boyle tried to do too much (the whole segment leading up to Tim Berners-Lee's appearance), overall it was brilliantly done. Using the LEDs in the audience was a great decision and added to the show. And it was fun to play "Name That Tune" to all the various songs put in to the show (the only semi-redeeming part of that whole segment I noted earlier).

    Do you know if the video you put up here will have any commentary or not? I hope you're able to put up a version without commentary because I've seen pieces of the BBC's coverage and even their commentary took away from it some.


  3. Was this the first ceremony at which someone opened a summer (or any) Olympics for the second time?
    (HM Queen Elizabeth II also opened the 1976 Montreal Games)

    1. I can't remember the others, but there are other heads of State who have opened Summer and Winter Games. HM the Queen is the first to open two Summer Games, though

    2. I updated the "records" section with all of that info on the 18th, shortly after Jeremy's post!

    3. To the best of my knowledge, the only other head of state to open two Olympic Games was Adolph Hitler, who opened both the 1936 Winter and Summer Games. Back then, the custom was to have both games hosted in the same country. Queen Elizabeth is the first head of state to open two Summer Games and the first to do so for separate countries.

    4. in 1956 the president of Italy opened the winter games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, and in 1960 the same president opened the summer games in Roma

  4. "First Summer Olympic Ceremony to Not Sing the Current Olympic Hymn (instrumental version performed: this version of the Olympic Hymn was performed in 1896, 1960-present)"

    RECHECK-Munich opening in 1972 also did not include a sung version of the Olympic Anthem. Their's was a 1970's jazzy rendition.

    Eddie in San Antonio, TX, USA


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