Just four years after millions of people around the world tuned in for the highly synchronized, impeccably planned Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, they were treated to the utter antithesis of that spectacle in the London opener.
The cheeky, and at times odd, display of three hundred years of British history and culture had the crowd in turn surprised, choked up and, overwhelmingly entertained.
The £27 million ($42 million USD) spectacle created by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle took viewers on a madclap trip through Britain's idyllic countryside, industrial revolution, roaring 60s and into the future.
Boyle even managed to convince the Queen herself to make an appearance - the 86-year-old British monarch was filmed meeting with James Bond (portrayed by actor Daniel Craig) in Buckingham Palace before the two "parachuted" into the Olympic stadium in East London.
The ceremony featured musical performances by famed deaf solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie (accompanied by over 900 fellow drummers), former Beatle Paul McCartney and Scottish singer Emili Sande, who paid a tribute to victims of the 7/7/2005 London Tube bombings.
Readings of Shakespeare's Tempest and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan were also given by actor Kenneth Brannagh and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
And the performance was also not without social commentary. Boyle, a fierce Labour Party supporter, included an entire dance section praising Britain's national health care system featuring kids jumping on hospital beds as 600 dancing nurses formed the Great Ormond Street NHS logo.
Further political messages were also seen in the appearances of British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst's great-granddaughters Helen and Laura as well as descendents from protesters who took part in the 1936 East London Jarrow Marches against poverty and unemployment.
Other appearances included World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Mr. Bean comedian Rowan Atkinson. The ceremony ended with the traditional entrance of the athletes.
The delegation from Greece, the birthplace of the games, lead the parade of athletes from the 204 competing countries. Seven young British athletes then lit a ceremonial torch, shaped like a cauldron and Queen Elizabeth formally announced the games as open.
by RTT Staff Writer
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