Olympic opening ceremony: Ai Weiwei's review → ∞
Brilliant. It was very, very well done. This was about Great Britain; it didn’t pretend it was trying to have global appeal. Because Great Britain has self-confidence, it doesn’t need a monumental Olympics. But for China that was the only imaginable kind of international event. Beijing’s Olympics were very grand – they were trying to throw a party for the world, but the hosts didn’t enjoy it. The government didn’t care about people’s feelings because it was trying to create an image.
In London, they really turned the ceremony into a party – they are proud of themselves and respect where they come from, from the industrial revolution to now. I never saw an event before that had such a density of information about events and stories and literature and music; about folktales and movies.
Personally, I felt that it was artistically splendid. There was ordered-chaos, imperfections, acceptance, and a strong will to showcase the people of London, especially on the individual level.
The Chinese ceremony, on the other hand, was a sculpted show. An illusion of grandeur:
The Chinese ceremony had so much less information and it wasn’t even real. It wasn’t only about the little girl who was miming – which was an injury to her and the girl whose voice was used – but that symbolically showed the nation’s future. You can’t trust or rely on individuals or the state’s efforts.
Ultimately, I am thoroughly impressed by London’s efforts. They succeeded in responding to Beijing’s showcase, but in their own personalised terms—terms that Beijing is most ashamed of.
That being said, this Quora question highlights some of subtle details from the London opening that viewers may have missed.