Sun, Jul 29, 2012 - Page 1 News List

London 2012 Olympics: UK stuns with evocative British Olympic opening

LONDON CALLING:From the reigning monarch to the most humble torch bearer, Britons worked with director Danny Boyle to present a breathtaking Games opener


Members of Taiwan’s delegation parade during the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on Friday in London, England.

Photo: AFP

Shaken and stirred.

James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II making her film-acting debut teamed up on Friday night to give London a wild Olympic opening like no other.

Creative genius Danny Boyle turned the Olympic Stadium into a juke box, cranking up world-beating rock from The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who to send the planet a message: Britain, loud and proud is ready to roll.

To kick off a 17-day festival of sports, this was brilliant and cheeky. Now over to you, athletes.

Queen Elizabeth II, playing along with movie magic from director Boyle, provided the highlight of the Oscar-winner’s high-adrenaline show. With film trickery, Boyle made it seem that Britain’s beloved 86-year-old monarch and its most famous spy parachuted into the stadium together.

Daniel Craig as 007, the queen, playing herself, and her royal corgis starred in a short movie filmed in Buckingham Palace.

“Good evening, Mr Bond,” she said before they were shown flying by helicopter over London landmarks and then leaping — she in a salmon-colored dress, Bond dashing as ever in a black tuxedo — into the inky night over Olympic Park.

At the same moment, real skydivers appeared as the stadium throbbed to the James Bond theme. Moments after that, the monarch appeared in person, accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip.

Organizers said it was thought to be the first time she has acted on film.

“The queen made herself more accessible than ever before,” Boyle said.

Boyle sprang another giant surprise by giving seven teenage athletes the supreme honor of igniting the Olympic cauldron. Together, they touched flaming torches to trumpetlike tubes that spread into a ring of fire and then joined elegantly to form the cauldron.

With a singalong of Hey Jude, Beatle Paul McCartney closed the spectacle that ran 45 minutes beyond its scheduled three hours.

The show never caught its breath, with a nonstop rock-and-pop homage to cool Britannia. The soundtrack veered from classical to irreverent. Boyle daringly included the Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant and a snippet of its version of God Save the Queen — an anti-establishment punk anthem once banned by the BBC.

The encyclopedic review of modern British music continued with a 1918 Broadway standard adopted by the West Ham soccer team, the Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Bohemian Rhapsody, by still another Queen, and other tracks too numerous to mention, but not to dance to.

The evening started with fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke and roaring over the stadium, packed with a buzzing crowd of 60,000 people, at 8:12pm.

Boyle, one of Britain’s most successful filmmakers, who directed Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, had a ball with his favored medium, mixing filmed passages with live action to hypnotic effect, with 15,000 volunteers taking part in the show.

Actor Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean provided laughs, shown dreaming that he was appearing in Chariots of Fire, the inspiring story of a Scotsman and an Englishman at the 1924 Paris Games.

Headlong rushes of movie images took spectators on wondrous, heart-racing voyages through everything British: a cricket match; the London Tube; the roaring, abundant seas that buffet and protect this island nation; and along the Thames, the river that winds like a vein through London and was the gateway for the city’s rise over the centuries as a great global hub of trade and industry.

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