Friday, 3 August 2012

Out of the Ground Comes Light - Dianne Hofmeyr

We all saw it… the power of storytelling. 

Who will forget the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony with children being wheeled in on brightly lit hospital beds, winged bikes flying through the air reminding us of the magic of riding our first bicycle, floating trees, the chimney stacks rising from the ground, the Child Catcher and Voldemort versus Mary Poppins, Evelyn Glennie’s wild drumming, the Queen arriving with James Bond, J K Rowling reading an excerpt from Peter Pan, Kenneth Branagh as the engineer Brunel, speaking Caliban’s famous lines from The Tempest…  the explosion of story telling… the moments of glorious insanity, the pandemonium, the sense of celebration?
And as writers we have reason to celebrate when the scriptwriter for the ceremony was none other than 2004 Carnegie Medal winner for his debut, Millions, based on his own screenplay for the film of the same name whose novel, Framed, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year as well as the Carnegie Medal and his 2009 novel Cosmic was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal… and who in 2011 was commissioned to write a sequel to the Ian Fleming children's book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was published in October 2011 as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again –  Frank Cottrell Boyce (I wrote about him in a previous post when he was guest speaker at our CWIG Conference last year)

He says he stayed eerily calm watching the event with his wife and two of his seven children. Its clear that for the planning, he and Danny Boyle and the other designers shared things they loved about Britain the Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution, the NHS, pop music, children's literature and genius engineers. He bought Danny a copy of Humphrey Jennings's astonishing book, Pandemonium and the show's opening section ended up being named Pandemonium. He added a few very personal touches to the evening, like using the motto of his old school, St Helens: Ex Terra Lucem – out of the ground comes light, for the idea of the Cauldron.

He is quoted as saying: ‘For me the evening was like a work of art – it’s complex like a great poem or painting and as a result people can take different things from it and react in different ways.’

Someone else said of the evening. ‘It was enchanted. And it belongs to all of us. We are secure enough in our traditions to play around with them.’ 

Yes it was brave... very brave... creative and wonderful... story telling at its best. And the magic of it is probably rightfully summed up by Caliban's lines from The Tempest:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.


telsiz said...

Thank you very good information

Tam said...

It was completely inspired and I loved almost all of it (not sure about Sir Paul McCartney at the end but that's just me). Adored that our rich heritage of children's literature was included but once you know who the secret contributor was, it all makes sense.

We've got it recorded so I think I'll watch it again, I bet there's loads I missed. Thanks for putting Caliban's lines in as well - something lovely to savour on a Friday morning!

Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely tribute to a wonderful event - and Tam, I'm afraid I agree about Sir Paul. Just not the right note to end on, in any sense!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Funnily enough I also felt it was odd to end on Hey Jude... a bit of an anti climax. And I didn't see the connection. Are we the only ones?

Would also love to watch it again Tam as I think I missed masses.

Penny Dolan said...

A reminder of an amazing night of celebration and also the heart-warming writer behind so much of it.

Watched the celebration going gosh! and wow! and ah! (or similar expressions) so I am looking forward (like Tam) to seeing the recording. This time I'll let myself be quiet enough to think and watch.

Macca not at his best - maybe expecting the power to be cut on him after his Hyde Park appearance? - but don't forget he is from the city of Liverpool. As is our Frank. Not London. Just saying.

Delight to read Caliban's words here too. Thanks.

Penny Dolan said...

Maybe the "make it better" was the important message to take from "Hey Jude?"

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Hey Penny! That's a thought... 'Better better... " Something writers live with all the time!

Nick Green said...

I thought 'Hey Jude' was the weakest part, but still, I can see why they chose it, and it did actually work. The singalong at the end crosses language barriers and allowed for total audience participation to end the show. And the lyrics do have plenty of Olympic resonances, including how to deal with disappointment: 'Any time you feel the pain... Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.'

Can't carp about any of it. Best live event I've ever seen on TV.

pixie said...

I believe Hey Jude was done for the massive singalong effect - gave me goosebumps. Loved the whole insane mish-mash. Sometimes barmy and sometimes sentimental and all oh so very British!!

pixie said...

and just in case you are confused ... Pixie is your Arabian 'connection' Aunty Di xx

madwippitt said...

Why Mary Poppins, written by an Aussie author? Why not E Nesbit's Railway Children?
And if you really have to have a Beatles sing-a-long, why not All You Need is Love?
And why is the closing cere,ony being held before the Paralympians have done their stuff?
So many questions!!!

keren david said...

Possibly because Mary Poppins is set in London and the film is a classic (despite Dick Van Dyke's accent).
I loved it, thought it was a reral celebration of the British imagination, whether literary, musical, industrial or political (the NHS). I'm very fond of Hey Jude as a song - we played it in the delivery room when my son was born, his name is Judah, often known as Jude. But the musical highlight for me was David Bowie's We Can be Heroes played as the GB team paraded in their strange gold shellsuits.

diätplan said...

Lovely tribute to a wonderful event - and Tam, I'm afraid I agree about Sir Paul. Just not the right note to end on, in any sense!

diätplan said...
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diätplan said...
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adele said...

Lovely post to mark a lovely occasion. Hey Jude rather than All you need simply because it's a better song, possibly! And I loved the way the ceremony took all the British things that FOREIGNERS of every stripe know about Britain and kind of enhanced them! Magical stuff. The fire at the end was marvellous...can't wait to see what's going to be in the closing ceremony.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thanks Adele. Agree waiting to see what will happen next. Someone on Facebook said this was a show 'for the Brits by the Brits' but I disagree. I think it was holding up a mirror to the world and saying this is what we stand for... a true democracy that is ALL inclusive that is able to laugh and even mock its own whimsical nature but can still celebrate its triumphs... giving the world The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Peter Pan, Shakespeare, Boris Johnson's bikes, the suffragettes et al. I like to think of it as celebrating freedom of the mind and freedom from ideologies.
Nice to have you here from Al Ain Mel.

catdownunder said...

And hey, we are quite happy to share PL Travers with you - most Aussies don't even know she is Australian.

diätplan said...

very good post