WASHINGTON – “A wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful” was the description given by The New York Times to Britain’s opening ceremony of the summer Olympic games, which formally got underway in the British capital on Friday.
The newspaper called the production “noisy, busy, witty” and “dizzying.”
“It was neither a nostalgic sweep through the past nor a bold vision of a brave new future,” wrote Times correspondent Sarah Lyall. “Rather, it was a sometimes slightly insane portrait of a country that has changed almost beyond measure since the last time it hosted the Games, in the grim postwar summer of 1948.”
Wall Street Journal correspondents Geoffrey Fowler and Cassell Bryan-Low noted that “London sought to distinguish itself from Beijing’s 2008 spectacular by joining spectators and technology into an unusual team for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics: the human Jumbotron.”
“The four-hour-long show paid tribute to British history and culture,” The Journal correspondents wrote. “It played heavily to local favorites, though some might have been lost on the global TV audience — like a dancing and singing tribute to Britain’s National Health Service.
Noting the participation in the show of renowned British celebrities such as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and former Beatle Paul McCartney, The Journal pointed out that “no star was bigger than Queen Elizabeth II, who gamely acted alongside James Bond star Daniel Craig — corgies at her side — in a segment pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace.”
Washington Post correspondent Anthony Faiola noted that the message of the show “seemed to honor the quite serious Olympics — which London is hosting for a record third time — while simultaneously reminding the world that the next two weeks should also be about having a bit of fun.”
Philip Hersh of The Los Angeles Times wrote that “an atmosphere of whimsy and party won out over pomp and circumstance during an Olympic opening ceremony that allowed an economically beleaguered Britain to pat itself on the back.”
“The ceremony could not have been more of a contrast from Beijing’s four years ago, replacing Chinese militaristic precision with British fancifulness,” the LA Times pointed out.