Olympic Games officially kick off amid glitz and glamour
LONDON, July 27 (Xinhua) - The 2012 Olympic Games officially got under way on Friday night with a spectacular, surprising and funny opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in the East End of London whose climax was the lighting of a beautiful and inspiring Olympic flame.
The Olympic Stadium illuminated in stunning blue during the opening ceremony of the 2012 ...
Initial reaction by commentators and public seemed highly favorable towards a ceremony that captured the vibrancy and quirkiness of the host nation Britain through its history, its music, its films, its people, and its sense of humor. In a quirky and surprising scene the watching audience was treated to the spectacular sight of Queen Elizabeth II appearing to parachute into the Olympic arena accompanied by James Bond, played by actor Daniel Craig.
The evening had begun with the tolling of a 27-tonne bell -- twice the weight of London's iconic Big Ben bell. The bell had been cast only a few kilometers from the Olympic Stadium and was inscribed with a quote from William Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest', "Be not afeard: This isle is full of noises".
This echoed the theme of the opening ceremony "Isles of Wonder", a theme chosen by ceremony director Danny Boyle.
Boyle, an Oscar-winning film director for his 2009 hit "Slumdog Millionaire", had a 27 million pound (about 42.4 million U.S. dollars) budget to spend and had declared that he wanted the opening ceremony to herald a "people's Games."
A crowd of 80,000, some of whom paid 2,012 pounds (about 3,165 U.S. dollars) for their tickets watched.
Star British cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who at the weekend became the first Briton to ever win the Tour de France cycle race and who aims to add gold medals to the two he won in Beijing, began proceedings by striking the bell.
The opening sequence was dynamic and memorable, beginning with lyrical music of Edward Elgar's "Nimrod" which Britons often think as quintessentially British in its beauty and melancholy, followed by children's choirs from all four constituent nations of Great Britain.
Each children's choir sang a song relating to their nation, with the choir in the stadium singing the English hymn "Jerusalem" with lyrics by the visionary 18th century London poet William Blake, celebrating England's "Green and pleasant land".
The stadium floor was filled with green meadows, sheep and geese, and peasants playing football and cricket, the two most iconic British sports, and dancing around a May pole.
One of Britain's Leading actor Sir Kenneth Branagh portrayed the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the pioneers of the railways and of steamships in the 19th recited, who recited the speech from 'The Tempest' which included the line "this isle is full of noises".
He looked out upon a scene transformed by the energy and vibrancy of Victorian industrialism and manufacturing, as the island became filled with new noises, and the green and pleasant land disappeared.
The rural calm and beauty of the opening scenes was brutally interrupted by the arrival of the industrial revolution, whose awesome fright was symbolized by a thousand drummers led by the classical drummer Dame Evelyn Glennie, who has been deaf since birth but has still carved out a career as a star solo percussionist.
Within a few minutes the beautiful meadows and fields had been spectacularly transformed into a polluted industrial landscape, complete with enormous factory chimneys, and top-hatted factory owners.
This was the other side of Blake's 'Jerusalem', the "dark satanic mills" disfiguring the landscape. As these scenes played out, suffragettes (women campaigners for electoral equality) marched into the stadium, signifying the fight for the vote and for equality by women at the beginning of the 20th century. The sequence climaxed with the forging of five giant rings, which were joined in the air above the stadium to form the Olympic logo.
Other scenes celebrated the National Health Service (NHS), the free healthcare system provided for all Britons, featuring dancing nurses and patients, played by real nurses and patients from the Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London.
Giant villains from the Harry Potter novels marked the strong British tradition of children's literature, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling appearing to give a reading from children's classic "Peter Pan."
Also celebrated was Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the Internet, and the creativity of British film making which director Boyle had himself contributed to.
One continuing theme throughout the night were surprising moments of quirky British humor. This was exemplified with the parachuting Queen, but Mr Bean, the comic character played by Rowan Atkinson, also put in an appearance as a bored keyboardist in the London Symphony Orchestra's rendition of the theme from "Chariots of Fire" the movie about British Olympic runners.
Britain's great recent history of popular music was celebrated in an exuberant storyline involving two girls arranging a night out with their friends using social media.
During the course of their night out they dance to a dozen or more great British music hits ranging from 1960s legends the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Kinks through 1980s hits from the Specials, the Jam and New Order and climaxing with a live performance from contemporary star Dizzee Rascal, who comes from the East End of London where the Games are being held.
It was interesting to see hits from the Sex Pistols, with 'Pretty Vacant', and Frankie Goes to Hollywood with 'Relax' played. Both the bands had been very controversial in the 1970s and 1980s with their anti-establishment stances, and 'Relax' had been banned by the BBC at the time.
At the end of the sequence girl meets boy and they fall in love, to the tune of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", a song sung by football fans in the East End of London which the entire audience in the stadium sang along to. nepalnews.com