From Britain’s green and pleasant land through the industrial revolution to a love story, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was designed to embody a sense of generosity and graciousness.
Here are some of the highlights of the Oscar-winning director’s guide to his £27m extravaganza, in his own words:
“The first thing you can see is the green and pleasant land, which is something which is deeply embedded in our consciousness if you live here.
“It is kind of like mythical, historical, still present day, still there, something about our land.
“We have a prologue, which you might find a bit strange and baffling, where we try to represent some of the land really in a slightly lovely, quirky way.
“Then you see it becomes part of a much bigger sequence called Pandemonium, and that is the transformation into the industrial revolution.
“It is begun by somebody who is regarded as the Leonardo da Vinci of engineering, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and he speaks this speech from The Tempest at the beginning which signals the start of the change in the land.
“We call it Pandemonium, which is Milton’s invented word for the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost, and you know all the stories about Victorian Britain, but it also unleashed tremendous potential, and the growth of cities and the growth of a working base was extraordinary really, and it has changed all our lives.
“It has certainly allowed me to be here, I am absolutely conscious of that, and people from my kind of background, because it produced an Education Act and the ability to read and write, and the growth of newspapers, all began there. Then there is a memorial moment really, which is a moment of marking a remembrance of those fallen.”
Boyle said the second half of the extravaganza involves a “slightly surreal” industrial parade.
“Our second big sequence is a big celebration of two things.
“The National Health Service – we are almost unique, I think, in having universal healthcare.
“Our third sequence has a title called ‘Frankie and June Say Thanks Tim’, which is our modern sequence, if you like.
“We have some amazing kind of volunteer dancing.
“Very simple, it is a love story, actually trying to get a love story in there that’s Frankie and June and they don’t know each other when they head out on a Saturday night.
“A girl heads out from a regular house where her family are watching a soap opera.
“We invented soap operas and they have been exported around the world. It is amazing. All soap operas around the world are aspirational, ours remain gritty and grim. For the older generation it is like watching telly, and the younger generation it is actually going out and having a good time on a Saturday night.
“They go out and have a good time on a Saturday night and they meet each other and through a series of clubs. And the clubs are called the 60s, the 70s, you can guess the rest, the 80s, the 90s, and it celebrates the music we’ve produced. For such a small country, the amount of popular music we produce has been spectacular.”
“This young couple meet and their relationship is developed through modern communications, texting and social networking, and they finally end up they get together and they finally end up announcing a party back at their father’s house.”