Olympic Opening Ceremony 2012: Epic 2008 Beijing Opening Will Be Hard to Match

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, carrries the Olympic Torch through Central London on July 26, 2012 in London, England.The Olympic flame is making its way through the capital on the penultimate day of its journey around the UK before arriving in the Olympic Stadium on Friday evening for the Olympic games' Opening Ceremony  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Do you remember how incredible the opening ceremony was at the 2008 Beijing Games?

Let me refresh your memory.

To name two of the many spectacles: There were 2,008 drummers with LED-enhanced drums, creating a very unique light show. There was also a fireworks display around the city that would have made Bane jealous.

Don't remember?

It's going to be tough for London to top that. But try they must.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is putting on the show. It probably can't match the performance Beijing presented, but it only needs to reflect Great Britain in a fun, memorable way.

The Associated Press (via The Washington Post) has an early glimpse at the show:

In depicting Britain, warts and all, Boyle has drawn from William Shakespeare, British pop culture, literature and music, and other sources of inspiration that will speak not just to Anglophiles but to people across the globe. One segment involves actor Daniel Craig's James Bond, and former Beatle Paul McCartney will lead a sing-along.

Boyle's "Isles of Wonder" show will celebrate the green and pleasant land of meadows, farms, cottages, village cricket matches and bird song, but also dwell on Britain's darker industrial past. That's not a surprise from a movie director who depicted Scottish heroin addicts in "Trainspotting" and Indian poor in "Slumdog Millionaire."

The Beijing spectacle left us in awe. If the British version of the opening ceremony can leave us laughing, recalling aspects of pop culture we relate to or simply having a good time, it will be the perfect contrast to the opening ceremony from four years ago.

London can't top Beijing. It was the coolest (and likely most expensive) opening ceremony I've ever seen. London just needs to be itself, and that will make it memorable.

Often, it's the little moments that make these ceremonies great. Think back to 1996 in Atlanta—what do you remember?

Chances are, you recall Muhammad Ali lighting the stadium cauldron in a wonderful, perfect surprise that we'll never forget. For all of the spectacle before that, the simple memory of Ali lighting that cauldron will always give you warm feelings when you think back to the Atlanta Games.

And that's what London needs. That one moment that makes it distinct.

No, they can't top 2,008 drummers lighting up the night sky. They don't need to. They just need to give you something else you'll never forget.


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