Last Friday London opened the Olympic Games with one of the most spectacular opening ceremonies ever seen.
Directed by Danny Boyle, best known for the films Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, the ceremony celebrated the eccentricity and enlightenment which are so central to Britain’s culture.
The ceremony began with scenes of a pre-industrial Britain including thatched cottages, maypole dancers, and Kenneth Branagh dressed as the engineer Isambard Brunel reciting from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This scene then transformed into the industrial revolution with factory towers rising out of the ground and the green fields being replaced with a fierce river of molten iron which was then shaped into the Olympic rings.
The whole ceremony was littered with references to British history such as suffragettes, tributes to the war dead and the Beatles. However, for many people the highlight was the short film “Happy and Glorious” which saw James Bond (Daniel Craig) arrive at Buckingham Palace and escort the Queen to the Olympic Ceremony via helicopter. The two then appeared to parachute into the stadium (replaced by stuntmen) before the Queen entered the stadium on foot.
Another favourite moment was Rowan Atkinson in the role of Mr Bean playing the theme from Chariots of Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Mr Bean provided the usual entertainment, playing with his smartphone and playing the keyboard with an umbrella, whilst daydreaming of winning a race on a beach.
The Olympic flame was carried into by Britain’s greatest Olympian, rower Steve Redgrave, and the cauldron was then lit by seven young athletes who were each nominated by British Olympic heroes. There were then some more fantastic fireworks before Sir Paul McCartney took to the stage for a solo performance of Hey Jude.
All in all it was a truly spectacular evening which gave a wonderful insight into the changing British culture and life of the last few centuries.