(AFP) – Jun 12, 2012
LONDON — London's Olympic Stadium will be transformed into a rural British idyll for the Games opening ceremony on July 27, organisers said on Tuesday.
The ceremony's artistic director Danny Boyle -- whose film "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars -- said the £27 million ($42 million, 33 million euro) ceremony would give Britons "a picture of ourselves as a nation."
"On entry to the Olympic Stadium in East London the audience will see a scene that represents a traditional and idyllic view of the British countryside," Games organisers LOCOG said in a statement.
"The set will be complete with meadows, fields and rivers, and featuring families taking picnics, sport being played on the village green and farmers tilling the soil whilst real farmyard animals graze."
Real farmyard animals will be grazing in the country scene including 70 sheep, 12 horses, three cows, two goats and 10 chickens, plus three sheepdogs.
Fresh from headlining last week's spectacular concert at Buckingham Palace marking Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney is to close the ceremony, which will be attended by the monarch.
A billion people worldwide are expected to watch the extravaganza on television, organisers said.
Boyle paid tribute to the cast of 10,000 volunteers, who have already held 157 rehearsals.
"I've been astounded by the selfless dedication of the volunteers," he said. "They are the pure embodiment of the Olympic spirit and represent the best of who we are as a nation."
"The best way to tell that story is through working with real people," added the filmmaker, who has reserved a role for staff from Britain's state-funded National Health Service in the ceremony.
The largest bell in Europe will ring inside the stadium to open the extravaganza, which has been named "Isles in Wonder" after a speech from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest".
The 27-tonne bell is inscribed with a quote from one of the play's characters Caliban: "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises".
Boyle said the bell was a fitting inclusion because "that's how communities notified each other that something important was going to happen.... After the war the bells were rung in London to announce the peace and we will begin our Games with a symbol of peace."
London Games chief Sebastian Coe said organisers had designed "one of the biggest sets ever built" for the stadium, which will be equipped with a million-watt sound system.
Some 80,000 spectators will be able to watch a full dress rehearsal at the venue at a date yet to be announced.
The budget for the opening and closing ceremonies was doubled to £81 million ($127 million, 97 million euros) in December, reportedly after British Prime Minister David Cameron intervened.
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