wed 17/07/2024

theartsdesk Olympics: Let The Games Begin | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk Olympics: Let The Games Begin

theartsdesk Olympics: Let The Games Begin

Introducing our own Olympiad, a new series which takes a sideways cultural look at runners, riders and wrestlers

You can run, swim, pedal or row from this symbol, but you can't hide

Even in this year of years, it has to be accepted that not everyone has a soft spot for sport. Anyone answering to that description may well attempt to sprint, jump or pedal away from the coming onslaught, but if you are anywhere near a television, radio or computer, the five-ring circus is going to be hard to avoid for the next few weeks.

Though an arts site devoted to noting, admiring and every so often deploring fresh developments on the cultural map, we felt we couldn’t entirely allow the biggest sporting event ever to visit the shores to pass entirely unnoted. So as of tomorrow, theartsdesk is hosting its own Olympiad.

The brief we have given ourselves is to come at the Olympics via a side door. In theartsdesk Olympics you won’t hear much about the archery taking place at Lords Cricket Ground, but to inaugurate the series you can read Graham Fuller’s delightful tour of archery in the arts featuring England’s greatest archer never to win a gold medal (though he was very good at robbing the rich to feed the poor). From here until the closing ceremony, we will pay a daily visit to that place in the road where the arts have intersected with the Olympics, and send in a postcard. Some will focus tightly on a particular Olympiad: Berlin in 1936, London ’48, or Munich ’72. Others will follow a more glancing, tangential course into films, plays, operas and even a Shostakovich-scored ballet. We’ll assess Hamlet’s fencing skills and get into the wrestling ring with Mickey Rourke and Oliver Reed, only one of whom will be naked.

The Olympic epic we won’t be revisiting is Chariots of Fire, having recently reviewed the play and the re-released film and interviewed Hugh Hudson. (You also are encouraged to seek out Salute, a gripping new documentary which tells of the symbolic Black Power protest in Mexico City’s Olympiad in 1968.) We will however take one last fond look at Twenty Twelve and cross fingers that a comedy about preparing for the Games doesn't turn out to be brutal documentary realism.

And meanwhile the capacious, all-inclusive, nation-bestriding London 2012 Festival continues alongside the this summer’s massive spurt of Shakespeariana courtesy of the World Shakespeare Festival. Having covered every one of the Globe to Globe season’s 37 Shakespeare productions, our writers will also approach the BFI’s forthcoming Hitchcock season with a series celebrating the great performances in Hitchcock films, starting in early August.

But before that, enjoy theartsdesk Olympics. As critics we believe it’s the taking apart that counts.

Follow theartsdesk on Twitter

As critics we believe it’s the taking apart that counts

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters