ARIANA FERENTINOU > Good evening Mr. Bond

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Like many, I watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics last Friday and, like a few, I was confused about the meaning of the show. Or to put it more accurately, I was wondered whether the spirit of the Olympic Games as a world athletic meeting promoting world peace and intercultural bonds was truly conveyed to a global audience. Was that a show for the world or a show for “Brits only?”

I thought it was the latter. If you have never lived in the United Kingdom for a long time – most people prefer to live in their own country – it would be impossible to decipher the social codes and meaning behind some of the scenes displayed during the ceremony. For example, what is the importance behind hundreds of beds being rushed onto the giant ceremonial stage carrying sick children and jolly jumpy nurses from the Great Ormond Street Hospital? I spent a great part of my life in England and personally experienced the benefits of the British National Health Service. But did my octogenarian aunt and her family, who obsessively watched the ceremony until the end, understand what the huge initials of “NHS” meant when they appeared center stage after the jolly nurses faded away? OK, there were internationally-known British symbols like Harry Potter present, but there was no Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie. There was the industrial revolution but there was no English sea faring.

And what about the famous British humor? Was Rowan Atkinson’s physical comedy funny enough to represent the best British characteristic, the ability and the open-mindedness to laugh at yourself and your most reverend institutions? I did not think that Black Adder’s boredom from tapping the same point on the keyboard and his preoccupation with his nose was a representation worthy of such a rich tradition.

But I can tell you one thing. I thought that what saved the tradition of British humor was the actual representative of the oldest British institution: the Queen. Her wonderfully delivered phrase, “Good evening Mr. Bond,” when welcoming the latest James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, into her luxurious private office was original and creative enough to remain in our minds as the most memorable part of this otherwise inward looking domestic show. The Brits can still be sure that they have managed to keep a valuable feature of their society, i.e. the one which appreciates humor as a means of everybody’s democratic right to the extent that even the monarch can join in as a willing participant in the procedure.

It was reported in the news that the Queen was eager to find out whether the public was “amused” by her show and that she was assured by the director of the ceremony that they really did like it.
I can’t think of many leaders who would ask whether their public was “amused” even if they had condescended to take part in such a gag. In many societies the width of disrespect shown to the authority is a good measure for the degree of democracy.

So the show was bad, but the Queen saved it. The representative of the most anachronistic British institution showed once again that the balance between the authority and the citizen -in spite of it all - still holds.

So I say to you, “Good evening Mr. Bond,” a hundred times.


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Blue Dotterel

7/30/2012 3:54:09 PM

I watched little of it, as it seemed quite irrelevant to the olympics. It could have been the opening of the World Cup, or the Queen's birthday. The putting together of the olympic torch seemed to be the only thing that told you that this cermony was about the olympics. Paul McCarthy and "Hey Jude" - excuse me, is this the Eurosong contest? True the original olympics did have drama contests, but we are an artless world today; so what was relevant to the olympics in this ceremony?

Red Tail

7/30/2012 2:11:07 PM

What did the author want? Some military style parades, with flags and stuff? We are living in 2012, not 1912.........

US Observer

7/30/2012 1:39:07 PM

It certainly felt Socialist in nature, but it was a good show for the most part. Some Americans felt like it was a couple things were a jab at us, the internet segment and especially the Health Care bit. Europe has a history of a superiority comlex against us, so I can see how some would see that. I enjoy Europe culturally, but I sure don't agree with their economic and social programs.

Adele Gill

7/30/2012 1:31:39 PM

I think you did not understand the meaning behind the NHS at the opening - the director was simply shouting at the British Prime Minister and his government to leave the National Health Service alone and not make it a private institution as he is planning to do. Where else in the world can artist shout at the prime minister in the front of the whole world and still wake up and see free blue sky?!?!?!

Johanna Dew

7/30/2012 12:27:58 PM

As I can read quite some languages and therefore able to read newspapers from the divers countries, this is the first writing which is negative. UK nationalistic? Sorry, I don't think so.

Agnes Smith

7/30/2012 12:16:45 PM

It won't be forgotton thats for sure. For those who were baffled maybe their curiosity will make the UK more compelling? Danny Boyle is a legend whichever way you look at it. And British humour something the world is proud to have.

Brian Middleton

7/30/2012 11:13:00 AM

I am not British but I have lived in the UK and found the opening ceremony the best ever. Better even than Beijing and infinitely better than Athens 2004. The portrayal of selected British history from the Industrial Revolution was excellent and the combiation of the hillerious Mr Bean with the Queen was really typical of the unique British sense of humor. I have read a considerable amount of the international press and have not found any negative reviews. So I'm quite baffled by this article.

Red Tail

7/30/2012 9:59:50 AM

I have never lived in England. And I thought it was a great opening, and all the press I have read think the same. Just because the author does not understand Shakespeare, it does not have to be Shakespears fault.................And yes, one can know about James Bond also without having lived in UK.

dogan kemal ileri

7/30/2012 1:50:16 AM

The olympic opening show was really a marketing and branding exercise for Great Britain Ltd,but it was brilliantly executed and I rather enjoyed it.In any case it was far superior to the Chinese extravaganza.
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