I admit freely to being an Anglophile. So last night's spectacular "Isles of Wonder" Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics was a complex confectionary delight. Academy-Award winning film director Danny Boyle's (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) presented a "hidden objects" painting of immense complexity and scope, it was layered with subtext as a Shakespearian play, as whimsical as a Monty Python sketch, as full of meaning as a single red poppy. Buried within it were dozens of hidden visual and aural cultural references that flashed by at frantic pace. The trick (and half the fun) was in catching them.
A ceremony in three acts, "Isles of Wonder" touched on British history, literature and pop culture. There was no mention of Empire, but plenty of the greatness and resilience of a nation built with the blood, sweat and tears of of people who work for a living.
Sir Kenneth Branagh started the whole thing off dressed as British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunel was father of the Industrial Revolution, the impact of which changed the word forever. Intruding upon the pastoral landscape, sheep included, Branagh recited Caliban's speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest, perhaps a fitting description of the "isles of wonder," that form Great Britain:
"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."
Queen Elizabeth II in her jubilee year made cinematic history by appearing in her first movie. Escorted by 007 himself (Daniel Craig), but leaving her beloved Corgis at the palace gates, Her Royal Highness made a grand entrance parachuting from a helicopter and into her place to formally open the "Games of London celebrating the XXX Olympiad of the modern era."