Mixed views on ‘Isles of Wonder’ plan for Olympic opening

Boyle and model of ceremony. Pic: London 2012

Film director Danny Boyle this week unveiled his  dramatic vision for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, now just 41 days away.  As artistic director for the event, he plans to turn the stadium into a gigantic “green and pleasant land’ complete with 70 sheep, real grass and fake rain. The ‘Isle of Wonder’ idea was inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, will cost £27 million and involve a cast and crew of 10,000.

So, is this ‘green and pleasant land’ a good representation of Great Britain or just a waste of money?  EastLondonLines reporters took to the streets of New Cross to find out.

Chris Boddington, 44, café manager, New Cross:

“I’ve heard what the plans for the opening ceremony are. My step mum is dressing up as one of the vegetables.

“I find it hard to feel anything but cynical about the idea behind the opening ceremony. I think the best way to see the countryside is to go and see the countryside, rather than having people dressed up as vegetables.

“I don’t know that people will take that image of Britain anymore. My image of China wasn’t influenced by the opening of the Olympics at Beijing. It takes more than a minute or two on TV to influence people on how we live in this country.

“The perception of Britain has built up around the world over generations – from the Second World War to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not just some little ceremony that will change people’s views very much.”

 Ciaran O’Neal, 29, art gallery administrator, New Cross:

“I think it’s a bit crazy-looking. I don’t particularly like it. I’m not very happy about the amount of money they’re spending on it. It would be good to see him giving back something to the people that have paid for it.”

Pauline Jacobs, 52, social worker, Deptford

“It’s ostentatious, it’s a whole heap of money. The money could be better spent elsewhere. I’m only really interested because

my goddaughter is dancing in it.”

 Husband and wife Sarah Kilmarton, 42, accountant, and James Kilmarton, 50, teacher, New Cross.

James said: “When I heard Danny Boyle talking about it, I thought he talked quite convincingly, because the countryside is part of what Britain is. If you travel on the train between Birmingham and London, you look around and you see a beautiful countryside. I don’t have any problems with it, to be honest.”

Sarah said: “My understanding is that the scene will evolve throughout the course of the opening. If there are just some fields with a few peasants in, then it would be a bit bizarre, wouldn’t it? I think there will be a city scene or something, because why would it cost so much? Maybe the Gherkin will pop up in the middle of it!”

James Basford, 73, retired, Kidbrooke

“It’s just too happy-clappy, you know? It’s a good thing for the country but it’s been badly managed. They’re not up to the job. It’s slick on the surface but they haven’t got the fundamentals right.”

Sophie Hodgkin’s, 26, PA, New Cross

Chris Burch, 26, advertising executive, New Cross

Sophie: “It doesn’t matter about the cost.”

Chris: “It’s worth the money. I think everyone is proud to be British these days.”

 By Ines O’ Gorman, Emma Marvin, Mario Seisdedos, Leila Zerai


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