Director DANNY BOYLE kicked off the London 2012 Olympic Games on FridayÂ (27Jul12) with a colourful visual spectacular that included appearances by actorÂ KENNETH BRANAGH, JAMES BOND star DANIEL CRAIG, author J.K. ROWLING and QUEENÂ ELIZABETH II.
All eyes were on the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London as the SlumdogÂ Millionaire filmmaker presented the Isles of Wonder Opening Ceremony – and theÂ Oscar winner did not disappoint.
The sound of the Olympic Bell signalled the official start of the LondonÂ Games as the patriotic hymn Jerusalem was sung throughout the stadium. BranaghÂ was the first celebrity to appear as he stepped up to portray Isambard KingdomÂ Brunel, Britain’s most revered engineer, and he recited Caliban’s speech fromÂ William Shakespeare’s The Tempest as 965 drummers moved in for the first segmentÂ of the show, titled Pandemonium, led by deaf percussionist Dame EvelynÂ Glennie.
The scene showed industrial workers forging five giant rings from red-hotÂ metal and the finished products glowed as they were hoisted high into the air,Â coming together to form the Olympic Rings.
There was an impressive entrance from The Queen after a film showed Craig inÂ character as 007 arriving at Buckingham Palace to pick up the royal, beforeÂ heading into the skies in a helicopter. The pair then appeared to jump from theÂ aircraft and parachute into the arena as the video clip drew to a close, whileÂ the stadium audience rose to its feet to welcome the monarch and her husbandÂ 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 tributeÂ to British children’s literature as inflatable figures of great fantasy villainsÂ Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Lord Voldemort from HarryÂ Potter and the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang entered the arena.Â Characters dressed as beloved nanny Mary Poppins then floated in to fight offÂ the darkness and save the day.
The epic production, which featured more than 7,500 volunteers, also saw SirÂ Simon Rattle conduct the London Symphony Orchestra on a rendition of Chariots ofÂ Fire as comedian Rowan Atkinson joined in on the keyboard, performing as hisÂ fumbling Mr. Bean character.
Viewers were then taken on a journey through five decades of music in aÂ montage of Britain’s greatest pop exports as the sounds of The Who’s MyÂ Generation, Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, The Beatles’ hit SheÂ 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,Â Soul II Soul, Eurythmics, Blur and Amy Winehouse were also included in theÂ soundtrack, as was Underworld’s Born Slippy .NUXX, which became the theme tuneÂ to Boyle’s breakthrough movie Trainspotting.
East London rapper Dizzee Rascal took centrestage to perform and the segmentÂ drew to a close with applause for British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, theÂ 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 aÂ speedboat on the River Thames as a young athlete held the Olympic torch whileÂ they traveled to the Olympic Arena in Stratford, East London, just a stone’sÂ throw away from the soccer ace’s hometown of Leytonstone.
The ceremony lasted for over three hours and concluded with The QueenÂ declaring the games open.
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