Sunday, July 29, 2012

About The Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

From Wikipedia.

The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, called Isles Of Wonder began at 9pm (UK time) in the Olympic Stadium, London.

It was designed and co-ordinated by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, with musical direction by electronica duo Underworld.

The Games was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

Boyle acknowledged that the scale, extravagance and expense of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony at Beijing was an impossible act to follow: "You can't get bigger than Beijing" and that this had in fact liberated his team in their approach to designing the 2012 ceremony.

The budget of the 2012 ceremony was £27m (as opposed to Beijing's £65m).

The cast of the ceremony was mostly made up of volunteers - some 15,000 of them - who had given up hundreds of hours of their time to rehearse over the preceding months.

The Isles Of Wonder name was taken from Shakespeare's The Tempest, with the giant bell used in the ceremony inscribed with a line from a speech by Caliban: "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises".

It was the second Games opened by the Queen. She had also opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal as Queen of Canada.

Most of the music chosen was either British or Irish.

Survival, a single released by Muse was announced as the official song of the Olympics.

It will be played before medal ceremonies and international broadcasters will also play it while reporting on the Games.

A R Rahman, who worked with Boyle on his film Slumdog Millionair composed a Punjabi song for the opening ceremony, intended to be a part of a medley which would showcase Indian influence in the UK, according to Boyle's wishes.

Sir Paul McCartney was the ceremony's closing act.

Paolo Nutini and Duran Duran played before the opening ceremony was shown to the audience on big screens.

Stereophonics and Snow Patrol then played during the athletes' parade, before the lighting of the torch was shown.

At exactly 8.12 pm (2012 on the 24-hour clock) the Red Arrows performed a flypast over the Olympic Stadium.

At 9pm the ceremony began with a two-minute film directed by Danny Boyle and produced with the involvement of the BBC.

Beginning at the source of the River Thames in Gloucestershire, the film traced the river to the heart of London, juxtaposing images of contemporary British life with pastoral shots.

As it passed Battersea Power Station, a Pink Floyd pig was flying between its towers.

The soundtrack featured clips from various pieces of music, including the theme tune of The South Bank Show (Lord Lloyd-Webber's Variations), the theme tune of EastEnders by Simon May and Leslie Osborne, London Calling by The Clash and the Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen.

The film's track ended in the Olympic Stadium, where groups of children held balloons numbered from 10 to 1 that popped in sequence with an audience-led countdown.

Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour De France just five days earlier, emerged to open the ceremony by ringing the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world.

The bell was cast for London's Whitechapel Bell Foundry by Royal Eijsbouts of the Netherlands.

The opening section of the ceremony encapsulated British economic and social development from rural economy to Industrial Revolution to the 1960s.

At the beginning, the floor of the stadium had at its centre a model of Glastonbury Tor and a model village as promised by Boyle, replete with live animals and actors portraying working villagers.

Youth choirs began a cappella performances.

The informal anthems of the four constituent countries of the host nation were then sung: Jerusalem (from England, sung by a live choir in the stadium), complemented by filmed performances of Danny Boy (from the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland), Flower Of Scotland (from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland) and Bread Of Heaven (from Rhosilli Beach in Wales, but sung in English).

The anthems were inter-cut with footage of notable Rugby Union Home Nations' tries.

As the performances progressed, vintage London General Omnibus Company stagecoaches entered the stadium, carrying men in Victorian dress, complete with top hats.

Led by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (played by Sir Kenneth Branagh), the men exited the carriages and surveyed the land approvingly.

After walking up Glastonbury Tor, Brunel delivered Caliban's "Be not afeard" speech from Act 3, Scene II of Shakespeare's The Tempest, reflecting Boyle's introduction to the ceremony in the programme.

As the villagers rolled away the grass and other props, chimney stacks with accompanying steeplejacks symbolising the Industrial Revolution rose from the ground and workers mimed forging what was to become a large Olympic ring.

Boyle described this section of the ceremony as Pandemonium (in reference to the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost) and said that it celebrated the "tremendous potential" afforded by the advancements of the Victorian era.

This part of the show also included a silence in remembrance of the sacrifice and loss of life of both the World Wars, featuring British 'Tommies' and a field of poppies.

Accompanied by 1000 percussionists led by Dame Evelyn Glennie, actors paraded around the stadium representing historical groups who changed the face of Britain, including the woman's suffrage movement, the Jarrow Crusade, the first Caribbean immigrants arriving in Britain on board The Empire Windrush and The Beatles as they appeared on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Included in this parade were real-life Chelsea Pensioners and a group of Pearly Kings and Queens.

Many of the participants, including the Victorian gentlemen, mimed the repetitive mechanical movements associated with industrial processes, such as weaving.

As the parade progressed, four Olympic rings were flown into place above the stadium floor and, when the fifth was raised into position, they ignited and rained fire.

The ceremony then cut to Happy And Glorious, a short film featuring James Bond (played by current Bond actor Daniel Craig) entering Buckingham Palace.

Bond escorted Queen Elizabeth II (who played herself) out of the building and into a waiting helicopter, which flew across London to the stadium.

At the end of the film, Bond and Her Majesty jump from the helicopter and this was interspersed with live footage of actors playing the pair who parachuted out of a helicopter over the stadium (using Union Jack parachutes).

The actual jump was carried out by BASE jumper and stuntman Gary Connery.

The Queen and The Duke Of Edinburgh (as well as Count Rogge, President of the IOC) were then introduced in the stadium.

The Union Flag was then raised by members of the British Armed Forces, with the national anthem performed a cappella by the Kaos Signing Choir For Deaf And Hearing Children.

There followed a sequence celebrating the National Health Service (NHS).

Nurses from the NHS entered the stadium with children on hospital beds, some of which functioned as trampolines.

Among the performers were hospital staff and nine children who are long-term patients at the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The beds' blankets illuminated, and the beds were arranged into a smiling face (the logo of Great Ormond Street Hospital) and its acronym GOSH, visible from above.

After a dance sequence, a celebration of children's literature by British authors began with J K Rowling reading a section from J M Barrie's Peter Pan (from which Great Ormond Street Hospital receives royalties) and inflatable representations of children's literature villains The Queen Of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruella De Vil and Lord Voldemort.

The Child Catcher appeared amongst the children.

Dozens of women playing Mary Poppins descended on flying umbrellas as the characters deflated and the actors resumed dancing.

The entire sequence was set to music performed by Mike Oldfield and a backing band.

Their selections included partially rearranged sections from Tubular Bells (played in part on a giant set of tubular bells at the rear of the stage).

Sir Simon Rattle was then introduced to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Vangelis' Chariots Of Fire.

Mr Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson) appeared, comically playing a repeated single note on synthesiser.

He then lapsed into a dream sequence in which he joined the runners from the film of the same name (about the 1924 Summer Olympics), beating them in their iconic run along West Sands at St. Andrews by riding in a car and tripping the front runner.

The performance was followed by a sequence concerning British popular culture.

To the accompaniment of famous signature tunes, including Going Underground by The Jam and the theme song from The Archers, a young mother and son drove up to a house in the centre of the venue in a Mini Cooper.

The house's sides each served as a projection screen showing clips from various British films, television programmes and music videos including Billy Elliot, Gregory's Girl and Boyle's own Trainspotting.

A large group of dancers, centred around a boy and girl (Jasmine Breinburg) flirting by mobile phone, performed to an assortment of British popular songs arranged chronologically, ending with a live performance of Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal.

At the close of the sequence, the house was raised to reveal Sir Tim Berners-Lee, working at a NeXT Computer like the one on which he invented the World Wide Web.

He tweeted: "This is for everyone", instantly spelled out in LED lights held by 70,500 people in the audience.

A filmed sequence then showed David Beckham driving a motor boat up the River Thames and under Tower Bridge, carrying the Olympic torch accompanied by footballer Jade Bailey.

In tribute to victims of war and the 2005 London bombings, (which happened the day after the announcement that London had been awarded the 2012 Olympics), the hymn Abide With Me by Henry Francis Lyte to music by William Henry Monk, was performed by Emeli Sande and a group of dancers including Akram Khan, while a screen showed photos of people who had died, contributed by members of the public as a memorial.

The Parade Of Nations followed, accompanied in part by popular songs including West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees and Beautiful Day by Irish band U2.

According to custom, Greece led the parade, followed by other competing countries in alphabetical order and finally the host nation Great Britain.

The British delegation entered to David Bowie's song Heroes.

Each nation's flag was planted along the model of Glastonbury Tor.

After the Parade, the Arctic Monkeys performed their song I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and a version of The Beatles' Come Together, the latter whilst cyclists carrying LED representations of the Doves Of Peace circled the stadium.

Speeches by Lord Coe and Count Rogge followed, and the Queen officially opened the Games.
Seated near the Queen and the Duke Of Edinburgh was Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop Of Canterbury.

The Olympic Flag was then carried by eight people chosen from around the world as symbols of the Olympic values: Daniel Barenboim, Sally Becker, Shami Chakrabarti, Leymah Gbowee, Haile Gebrselassie, Doreen Lawrence, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Marina Silva.

This was a break with tradition as the Olympic Flag has previously been carried by Olympic athletes.

Before reaching its destination the flag paused in front of Muhammad Ali, who touched it.

Ali, who lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia and who was accompanied by his wife, had not made a public appearance since 2009.

The Olympic Flag was received by a colour guard of British Armed Forces personnel and hoisted to the sound of the Olympic Hymn.

David Beckham, on arriving at Olympic Park, assisted Sir Steve Redgrave, six-time Olympic rowing medallist, in lighting his Olympic torch from that on the boat.

Redgrave carried his torch into the stadium, through a guard of honour formed by construction workers who built the Olympic Park and handed it to one of a team of seven young athletes: Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey, each nominated by a famous British Olympian to convey the 2012 Games' aim to "inspire a generation".

After completing a lap of the stadium, each was hugged by their nominating Olympian and each presented with their own torches, which were lit from the original.

They then completed another partial circuit of the stadium, before each lighting one of 204 copper petals — one for every nation competing in this competition — mounted on long, hinged arms.

When the flame had spread to all of the petals, they were raised up in rings and converged to form the Olympic cauldron, which was designed by Thomas Heatherwick and was described as "one of the best-kept secrets of the opening ceremony".

Before the cauldron lighting, Alex Trimble, the lead singer of Northern Irish rock band Two Door Cinema Club, performed the song Caliban's Dream.

The song was written specifically for the ceremony by Rick Smith of Underworld.

The cauldron lighting was followed by a fireworks presentation, the climax of which was soundtracked by Pink Floyd's song Eclipse.

Sir Paul McCartney and his band performed the ending of The End and Hey Jude, with its anthem-like finale sung by the entire stadium, to close the ceremony.