Danny Boyle's Britain
I must admit I was dubious of Danny Boyle's idea of showing the UK as a green and pleasant land in the Olympic opening ceremony, but the bucolic idyll was merely a forerunner to the Industrial Revolution (above) in his potted history of Britain. Enter Wallinger swaggering around in a stovepipe hat as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and spouting Shakespeare. Huge smoking chimneys sprouted from the floor. A tree was uprooted for factory workers to emerge from their underground lair. Molten metal flowed into moulds to make fiery Olympic Rings, which rose high into the stadium. Spectacular! And who needs hundreds of Chinese drummers when you have Evelyn Glennie, the world's top virtuoso percussionist despite being profoundly deaf? Boyle's career as an Oscar-winning film director may have set a precedent in Olympic opening ceremonies. He created neat interjections, such as Daniel Craig's James Bond meeting the Queen and her corgis for a helicopter ride and Her Majesty's parachute jump into the stadium! (Skyfall is the next Bond movie.) And David Beckham's dramatic powerboat race along the Thames with the Olympic flame was worthy of another Bond action sequence (below). For those of you wondering why JK Rowling read from JM Barrie while the logo for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children was displayed, it's because Barrie bequeathed all future royalties from Peter Pan to the hospital. Skipping 1960's pop music, Mr Bean and bicycling doves that looked more like the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, we arrive at Thomas Heatherwick's brilliant design of a copper flower whose 204 flaming petals rose into the air to form an Olympic cauldron, uniting the 204 countries. Wow! Sir Paul McCartney singing Hey Dude was an anti-climax after that. CLICK for a BBC slide show.