2012 Olympic Games officially kick off in London

Ceremony marks opening of the London Olympics with extravagant show featuring Queen Elizabeth alongside James Bond.

July 28, 2012 01:33
3 minute read.
The Israeli delegation at the 2012 London Olympics

The Israeli delegation at the 2012 London Olympics 370 (R). (photo credit: Murad Sezer / Reuters)


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The Israeli delegation to the 2012 Olympics marched through Olympic Park in London night, part of the opening ceremony kicking off 17 days of international athletic competition.

Earlier Friday, over 20,000 people in various venues in London attended the British Zionist Federation’s “Minute for Munich” program that was promoted via social media.

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Earlier, James Bond actor Daniel Craig and Britain's Queen Elizabeth stole the show at the beginning of the ceremony, appearing together in a short film beamed to 60,000 spectators in the main stadium and a billion viewers around the world.

The comedic, quintessentially British moment complemented a London show that film director Danny Boyle, an Oscar winner for "Slumdog Millionaire," turned into an unabashed celebration of the host nation's history, culture and eccentricity.

In the tongue-in-cheek film Craig wears his trademark tuxedo and enters Buckingham Palace. The 86-year-old monarch with two corgis at her feet and in her cinematic debut, turns from a writing desk and says simply: "Good evening, Mr. Bond."

Doubles of Bond and the queen then parachuted from a helicopter above the stadium, built on the Olympic Park in a once derelict area of London's East End, and the national anthem sang by schoolchildren and Union flag raising followed.

The surreal footage and stunt had been kept a closely guarded secret in the buildup to the ceremony, which also includes speeches, the athletes' parade and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

Over the following 17 days, the drama of sporting contest takes hold the length and breadth of Britain as more than 16,000 athletes from 204 countries will aim to achieve their ultimate dream - Olympic gold.

The ceremony, inspired by Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and backed by rousing music from across the centuries, began with a playful recreation of an English rural idyll with grassy meadows, fences, hedges, a water mill, maypoles and a cottage.

A cast including shepherdesses, sheep, geese, dogs and a village cricket team filled the stage during the one-hour prologue to the show that included a dramatic, low-level fly-past by the jets of the Royal Air Force's Red Arrows stunt team.

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After "England's green and pleasant land" came the "dark Satanic mills" of William Blake's famous poem.

Titled "Pandemonium", the next phase saw the grass brutally uprooted and fences torn down to be replaced by a blackened landscape of looms and foundries that conjured the Industrial Revolution.

To the deafening beat of hundreds of drummers, giant chimneys rose from the ground and began to belch smoke as a small army of volunteers, dressed as 19th century factory workers, forged one of the five Olympic rings.

The giant orb was raised to the sky to join the four others, letting off a fountain of sparks and drawing gasps from many in the audience.

All around, especially designed "pixel" light boxes installed next to every seat accompanied each scene with giant images of waves, flags and words.

At one end of the stadium stands a grassy knoll topped by a tree and at the other end the 23-tonne bell, which Bradley Wiggins, Britain's winner of this year's Tour de France, rang to kick off proceedings.

In front of each is a "mosh pit" of people conjuring the spirit of the Glastonbury music festival and Last Night of the Proms classical concert.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney will be among the many performers on the night, but the biggest secret of all - who has the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the end of the show - remained a mystery.

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