Director DANNY BOYLE kicked off the London 2012 Olympic Games on Friday  (27Jul12) with a colourful visual spectacular that included appearances by actor  KENNETH BRANAGH, JAMES BOND star DANIEL CRAIG, author J.K. ROWLING and QUEEN  ELIZABETH II.

All eyes were on the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London as the Slumdog  Millionaire filmmaker presented the Isles of Wonder Opening Ceremony – and the  Oscar winner did not disappoint.

The sound of the Olympic Bell signalled the official start of the London  Games as the patriotic hymn Jerusalem was sung throughout the stadium. Branagh  was the first celebrity to appear as he stepped up to portray Isambard Kingdom  Brunel, Britain’s most revered engineer, and he recited Caliban’s speech from  William Shakespeare’s The Tempest as 965 drummers moved in for the first segment  of the show, titled Pandemonium, led by deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn  Glennie.

The scene showed industrial workers forging five giant rings from red-hot  metal and the finished products glowed as they were hoisted high into the air,  coming together to form the Olympic Rings.

There was an impressive entrance from The Queen after a film showed Craig in  character as 007 arriving at Buckingham Palace to pick up the royal, before  heading into the skies in a helicopter. The pair then appeared to jump from the  aircraft and parachute into the arena as the video clip drew to a close, while  the stadium audience rose to its feet to welcome the monarch and her husband  Prince Phillip, the Duke of York as they took their seats for the big show.

Harry Potter creator Rowling read out a passage from Peter Pan in a tribute  to British children’s literature as inflatable figures of great fantasy villains  Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Lord Voldemort from Harry  Potter and the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang entered the arena.  Characters dressed as beloved nanny Mary Poppins then floated in to fight off  the darkness and save the day.

The epic production, which featured more than 7,500 volunteers, also saw Sir  Simon Rattle conduct the London Symphony Orchestra on a rendition of Chariots of  Fire as comedian Rowan Atkinson joined in on the keyboard, performing as his  fumbling Mr. Bean character.

Viewers were then taken on a journey through five decades of music in a  montage of Britain’s greatest pop exports as the sounds of The Who’s My  Generation, Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, The Beatles’ hit She  Loves You and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody were blasted through the speakers.

Songs by David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, New Order, Frankie Goes To Hollywood,  Soul II Soul, Eurythmics, Blur and Amy Winehouse were also included in the  soundtrack, as was Underworld’s Born Slippy .NUXX, which became the theme tune  to Boyle’s breakthrough movie Trainspotting.

East London rapper Dizzee Rascal took centrestage to perform and the segment  drew to a close with applause for British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the  inventor of the world wide web, who created the first website in 1990.

Film footage then turned to soccer ace David Beckham at the wheel of a  speedboat on the River Thames as a young athlete held the Olympic torch while  they traveled to the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London, just a stone’s  throw away from the soccer ace’s hometown of Leytonstone.

The ceremony lasted for over three hours and concluded with The Queen  declaring the games open.

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