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Olympic opening ceremony will be spectacular but far from secret
Details emerge freely in info-now society
Question of the Day
A segment has been recorded inside Buckingham Palace, reportedly involving Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond. If rumor is to be believed, a stuntman dressed as 007 will parachute into the stadium to start the show.
The opening sequence will evoke a pastoral idyll, the “green and pleasant land” described in William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem,” which has been set to music and is regarded as England’s unofficial national anthem. There’s a meadow, livestock, a farmer plowing his field, a cricket match and, in a nod to Britain’s plethora of rural summer music festivals, a mosh pit.
Mr. Boyle hasn’t disclosed what comes next, but has said the ceremony will depict Britain’s past, present and future for a global television audience estimated at 1 billion. In addition to the athletes and performers, some 60,000 spectators will be in the stadium, including political leaders from around the world. First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters and a sprinkling of European and celebrity royalty will be among those attending.
Aerial photographs of the set for the second section of the show depict dark buildings and smokestacks with the River Thames running through it. This is the other side of the country described in “Jerusalem” — a land of “dark satanic mills.”
A third act will tackle the regeneration of East London, where the Olympics are taking place, as parkland and a creative heartland, home to many artists, designers and Internet startups.
There will be vignettes drawing on British history — Mr. Boyle’s people-power version of it — including Depression-era jobless protesters and nurses performing a tribute to the National Health Service, founded in 1948 to provide free health care for all Britons and now a much fought-over national institution.
Performers dressed as miners and factory workers also have been seen going into the stadium, and one set piece is a model of the Empire Windrush, a ship that brought hundreds of Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948.
According to the Sunday Times, one section will feature characters from children’s fiction classics including “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan” — and a showdown between Voldemort, the villain of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books, and a horde of flying magical nannies based on Mary Poppins.
Mr. Boyle has stressed that the ceremony is not a concert — “the real stars are the athletes” — but music will play a key role, with musical direction by electronic duo Underworld, who have worked with Mr. Boyle since his 1996 movie “Trainspotting.”
Music heard coming from the stadium in recent days includes “Jerusalem” — of course - and songs by the Beatles, the Who, the Sex Pistols and Vangelis’ theme from “Chariots of Fire.”
There are also songs by newer acts including Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah, two homegrown stars forged in the gritty London environment that Mr. Boyle is celebrating.
The final act will be former Beatle Paul McCartney — due to lead the audience in a singalong of “Hey Jude,” with thousands of voices urging “take a sad song and make it better.”
Final touches are being put on the show, with a technical rehearsal Monday evening and a final dress rehearsal Wednesday. Mr. Boyle has cut a stunt bike sequence to try to keep the show to its allotted three-hour running time so everyone can use public transportation to get home.
Mr. Boyle’s spectacle is only part of the Summer Games opening ceremony, much of which is dictated by Olympic protocol.
There also will be a parade of athletes from the more than 200 participating nations, speeches by dignitaries — including the queen, who will officially declare the games open — and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
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