…by Anura Guruge
>> Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony: The Muhammad Ali Moment Was A Unmitigated DOWNER! — July 29, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
>> London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony The Complete Musical Playlist — July 31, 2012.
As with Muhammad Ali, Winston Churchill is one of my all time heroes, one of the undeniable, immortal ‘Greats’. I even named my second Golden after him, ‘Winston’.
When I listen to Winston speak I still get goosebumps. His command of the English leaves me in humbled awe. I have gone on pilgrimage both to his birthplace, the magnificent Blenheim Palace and his burial place in Bladon. Yes, I know that he wasn’t that fond of darkies (like me), but that has never really bothered me. That was a generational thing. Something that he grew up with and as. I don’t think it was personal or vicious. It was a different age. Yes, I know he was not very fond of another of my heroes, Gandhi (and called him some amusing names). But, ‘race’ in Britain is different and, of course, I am very qualified to talk about it having grown up as a non-white in Britain, starting in 1969. I do know this for a fact. If not for dear Churchill I will be writing this blog in German! Period.
The Olympic organizers forgot the most fundamental adage about Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA. He is inimitable.
So to have an actor, Timothy Spall, do a pitiful imitation of him was uncalled for. Unbecoming. Unnecessary. Ditto with the Ali moment. What were they thinking? Yes, I saw “The King’s Speech” — and loved it. That doesn’t mean that he should have played Winston. I feel bad for him. He does NOT sound anything like Winston. He sounds like he has a mouthful of the proverbial British marbles in his mouth. That isn’t how Winston sounds.
You can’t try and imitate Winston. He stands alone and will always stand alone – a lion, a giant, an artist, a writer, a father, a fighter, a man.
Yes, of course, Winston must have uttered lines from Shakespeare. But, to portray him doing the ‘I love this island‘, Caliban’s speech from ‘The Tempest‘ was stupid.
And AGAIN we go back to my theme from the Opening Ceremonies. The need for political correctness. Yes, of course, he can’t offend the Germans.
What we should have had ideally was a 3D hologram of the REAL Winston created from all of the b&w film clips we have of him.
Failing that they should have just projected THE SPEECH onto the large TVs … ‘We shall fight them …’ That to me would have been appropriate. The Olympics is all about fighting.
Or THE FINEST HOUR SPEECH. I love that speech. I go and read it every once in awhile for inspiration.
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”
That would have been appropriate. The London Olympics was a HUGE SUCCESS. Bravo. It wasn’t the Battle of Britain, but it was one of our finest fortnights.
So, let me conclude by letting you actually listen to the inimitable, GREAT MAN, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA.
…by Anura Guruge
Related post: London Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony, Gross, Unnecessary Distortion Of British History — July 28, 2012.
Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE Muhammad Ali fan. I adore the man. I first came to the U.S. in 1967. He, then Cassius Clay, was very much in the news. He was iconic. He was brilliant. As with so many of my age, boxing was synonymous with him. He is one of my very few non-cricketer sporting heroes, Nadal, Ashe, Gareth Edwards, J.P. R. Williams and Jean-Claude Killy probably being the others (I having worn a red cap that said ‘Killy’ on it for nearly 20 years of my skiing life).
I cried when Ali appeared at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to light the flame.
I still cry when I see that clip. To me that was one of the greatest of Olympic moments.
The World should always remember Ali and the Olympics in terms of his historic win in Rome in 1960 and Atlanta in 1996. Period.
Having ‘Muhammad Ali’ appear towards the end of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, to symbolically touch the Olympic flag, was unnecessary, out-of-context, stupid and above all a HUGE DOWNER.
I did NOT recognize Ali. Check the video above.
When I was told it was Ali, I was shocked, depressed and embarrassed.
To make it worse, some NBC ‘twittering-head’ idiot was twerping away about it being the ‘unmistakable Muhammad Ali‘!
That was a HUGE mistake.
That was NOT my Muhammad Ali. To see the wheelchair behind him was sad; my mother too had Parkinson’s but died before she got to that stage of infirmity.
Poor Ali. He had no idea where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.
The 8 august flag carriers looked palpably uncomfortable. One, I think it was the ‘charitable’ lady from Brazil, gave Ali’s arm a squeeze as she left.
What were they thinking?
This was the second embarrassing faux pas of the Ceremony — ignoring the Empire was the other.
I have listened to the Americans rave about the director Danny Boyle. Most know him from Slumdog Millionaire. If you remember that, it had some strange, even gruesome scenes. I bet most of the twits on NBC have never seen Trainspotting, his first movie. That was one heck of a strange and dark movie. To me the Opening Ceremony was like Trainspotting.
There was ABSOLUTELY NO need to have Muhammad Ali there. He has no real connection with London, other than getting knocked down there, for the first time in his life, by Henry Cooper.
So was this AN INSIDER JOKE on poor Ali and the Americans? Bring Ali to London, those of us who were there will know that this was his first fall. Boyle sure is capable of cruelty such as that.
This was wrong. I am furious. We as Brits are better than this. Muhammad Ali is and will be one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. He was A MAN.
I really want to forget that stupid moment. Let us remember Muhammad Ali from the glory of 1996.