London Opening Ceremony 2012: Top Takeaways from Opening Extravaganza

Steven GerwelContributor IIIJuly 28, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  The Olympic rings are projected onto the House of Parliament during a light show to mark the start of the 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Every Summer Olympics kicks off with the traditional opening ceremonies, but the 2008 Bejing games produced easily the most breathtaking opening ceremony in Olympic history, which means the 2012 London games had an unbelievably tough act to follow. 

The first step was hiring Danny Boyle as the director of the ceremony. Boyle has experienced success with films such as 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire, The Beach and even zombie thriller 28 Days Later

But rather than having rabid human zombies devouring bystanders, Boyle used his £27 million budget and 7,500-member cast (according to and took the opening ceremonies in a more lighthearted direction that outlined the rich history of Great Britain. 

If you missed the action, here are some of the more notable moments: 


Bradley Wiggins Is Honored

The Tour de France has a lengthy history that began in 1903, but surprisingly enough, a British cyclist has never won the race until now. 

Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky is the first racer to bring Great Britain a Tour de France victory, and it's fitting that he accomplished that feat the same year London hosts the Summer Games.

Wiggins' victory is still fresh on everyone's mind, so it was only appropriate that the champion was given the honor of ringing the Olympic bell, which signifies the official beginning of the Olympics. 


Wiggins himself will also be a competitor in London. 


The Flying Queen 

One of the highlights from the ceremonies came when a hovering helicopter dropped two of the most recognizable characters in Great Britain history—James Bond and the Queen. 

Of course, Queen Elizabeth did not actually jump out of a helicopter and deploy a parachute, but the stunt double did an excellent job at both performing the stunt and giving off the appearance of an 87-year-old woman of royalty.

Actor Daniel Craig also made an appearance at the ceremonies as James Bond, but he also required a double for the helicopter jump. 


Mr. Bean and the Chariots of Fire

Mr. Bean came off as annoying and unfunny in his 1997 film that introduced the British television character to the United States, but he's apparently big enough in Great Britain to deserve a cameo in the Olympic ceremonies. 

In a comedy stunt, Mr. Bean effortlessly played the theme to Chariots of Fire while browsing his iPhone and paying little attention to his performance. 

It was humorous, but it was also surprising that Mr. Bean was considered a recognizable character worthy of an appearance. 



British Rock 'n Roll

One of the great contributions of Great Britain has been a wide variety of rock bands who have provided some of the greatest songs in history. 

Of course, their musical accomplishments over the years were also part of the ceremony. 

The musical portion of the show featured a cover of "Come Together" by The Beatles, while also featuring The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Queen. 

The event also brushed up on Britain's famous punk movement with some Sex Pistols. 


Healthcare Tribute

The ceremony acknowledged the accomplishments of Great Britain, so Danny Boyle felt it was vital that they recognize Britain's universal healthcare with a special tribute.

The tribute featured the giant face of a baby that was surrounded by an army of hospital beds and nurses.

With the healthcare debate still very active in the United States, this portion of the ceremony is guaranteed to spark a debate and incite outrage.  

Healthcare can certainly be considered an accomplishment worthy of recognition, but perhaps politics was not the best thing to include in the ceremony. 


Raining Fire and Spectacular Lights

In the United States, fireworks are a traditional part of sporting events and the Fourth of July holiday, but Great Britain apparently does fireworks better than anyone. 

The Olympic firework display made the most high-profile Fourth of July celebrations look like amateur hour. 

The fireworks were well synchronized by color and design, which provided a mind-boggling effect, but the massive number of fireworks is what was truly impressive.