Opening Ceremony Focuses on Britain

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A recreation of the British industrial revolution during the Olympic opening ceremony.

Daniel Craig, Queen Elizabeth, and skydiving. Although it may be a strange combination, millions of people crossing countless countries watched from home as the duo, portrayed by stunt doubles, skydived from a helicopter into the Olympic arena. However, the James Bond inspired entrance was only the beginning of the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, held in London. The opening ceremonies are not only meant to initiate and celebrate the beginning of another Olympic game, but also to reflect the contributions and culture of the country in which the games are hosted.
“It seemed like the opening ceremony had as much to do with Britain as it did the Olympics. There was a lot of stuff that I think British people got more than the rest of the world,” said Junior Carl Samuelson.

Throughout the ceremony, London took the opportunity to share their rich history and their notable achievements by putting on a show, which, according to London2012.com, was created and organized by Danny Boyle, the director behind the Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”.

The event featured a musical appearance by the infamous British musician Paul McCartney, who performed “Hey Jude”, as well as famous British pop music, such as the Beatles, the Stones, and Led Zeppelin, to which performers danced. Even Rowan Atkinson, a British comedian better known as Mr.Bean, took part in a comedic musical sketch in which his antics get in the way of his simple one note contribution to the orchestra’s “Chariots of Fire”.

In addition to all the notable British figures, Boyle also drew attention to their culture in the performance dubbed “Olympic Bedtime Story”, which brought to life many timeless British fairy tales including the child catcher from “Chitty-chitty-bang-bang”, Cruella de Vil from “101 Dalmatians” and Voldemort from “Harry Potter”. It is possible that these classic storybook villains mirror the obstacles the Olympic athletes face in their pursuit for the gold. However to counterbalance these characters, Boyle also added the legendary British character Mary Poppins into the mix.

In addition to British culture, Boyle also explored the country’s crowning achievements in history, starting with colonial life in the meadows to the industrial revolution. According to olympicopeningceremony.tumblr.com, the arena opened up with 7,346 square meters of turf containing crops and extensive wildlife, including forty sheep, twelve horses, three cows and two goats to set the scene of colonial life.

After observing the beginnings of the nation, they moved forward to the industrial revolution; a time of great innovation and genius for the U.K. To create this scenery, the grassy fields were rolled away in place of several chimneys and beam engines, as well as multiple looms and a waterwheel. Factory workers completed the scene, putting together large steel rings, which afterwards, were lifted above the arena to form the Olympic symbol, showering with sparks.

Finally, to draw attention back to the Olympics, the Parade of Nations introduced all of the countries that would be participating in the games, with a majority of the athletes from each team representing their country. The British team had the privilege of marching on their own turf with the Queen, Prince William, and his wife, Duchess Kate looking on proudly from the audience.

“Even though some parts were confusing, it was pretty cool how they taught people things about Britain while opening the games,” said Samuelson.