So today I was surfing the internet when I came across a post regarding a shot by shot comparison of the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London and scenes from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. It was a well-crafted posted that echoed some observations that others have made about the pastoral scene and similarities to The Shire.
It also went on to compare the ring of power, or the One Ring, to the rings forged in the industrial setting of the ceremony. While this is a fair observation, it is really quite a shame that it is thought to be any kind of revelation.
For full disclosure, I am no Tolkien scholar. My own knowledge on this subject is limited to Wikipedia, the DVD extras on the Rings trilogy and my own reading of the books. However, it is my recollection that Tolkien was inspired and moved by the exact motifs expressed in the opening ceremony, at least those that occurred during and prior to his lifetime.
The Shire is a representation of the English countryside. Some say that it is an idealized image that Tolkien painted that captured the country he knew before he went off to the Great War. So it is not surprising that when Mr. Boyle depicted an English pastoral scene that it would bring to mind the Shire for viewers of the opening ceremony.
Similarly, the industrial revolution and the mechanization of war were heavy themes in the Lord of the Rings as these events were pivotal in Tolkien's time. Many scholars speak to his experience in World War I in the crafting of events and relationships in the trilogy.
So as it turns out, those astute viewers who drew parallels between the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and the Lord of the Rings were correct. Just not for the reasons they thought.