London 2012: Cows take the stage in Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

 

Real sheep, real cows, real horses, real grass, real ploughing and two battling mosh pits are to open the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

At Three Mills Studios, in east London, ceremony director Danny Boyle unveiled a model of the beginning of his £27m project. It is, he said, “the green and pleasant land. It is something that still exists, and something that cries out to all of us like a childhood memory.”

At one end of the stadium is a giant replica of Glastonbury Tor, the famous pagan hill in Somerset, plonked directly on top of the seats. Below it is a ‘Glastonbury style mosh pit’, to be filled with as yet unselected members of the public. At the other end will be a second mosh pit, which will be “more like the last night of the proms.”

“We hope the two mosh pits will do battle with each other,” he said. At the proms end will also be suspended the giant bell, “the biggest harmonically tuned bell in the world,” which has recently been completed by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and installed in the stadium last week. “When they ring it, you can hear it all around the Olympic Park,” Mr Boyle said.

“The 1948 games brought to London nations that had been at war. The bells weren’t rung during the war. They rang to announce the peace. So we will begin our ceremony with a symbol of peace,” he added.

Four cotton wool clouds sat above Mr Boyle’s model, one of which he said rather enigmatically, “will have rain coming out of it”.

Four huge maypoles , which children will dance around, sit on the in field, one each of which is topped with a giant rose, daffodil, thistle, and flax, to represent the four home nations.

Where the Olympic cauldron is to sit is, he said, “one of the pieces of the puzzle.” Where Her Majesty the Queen fits in – rumours abound of her having filmed an opening James Bond sequence with Daniel Craig at Buckingham Palace – is also “part of the puzzle.”

The opening decidedly bucolic scenes are decidedly Jerusalem-esque. Fitting then, that Mark Rylance is expected to read the lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that have inspired the ceremony. “Be not afeared. The isle is of full of noises. Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”

Mr Boyle said some of the challenges came from “the struggle between spectators and television viewers.” He said he wanted the show to “feel spectacular, but also warmer.”

Underworld are currently mixing the music for the ceremony, Sir Paul McCartney has said he is closing the show, but little is known still about the music of the show. “There will be lots of music,” said Mr Boyle. “But it is not a pop concert.”

At least 10,000 people are involved in the ceremony, thousands of which are volunteers. There are now, we know, 120 animals to add to that list. “They’ll be treated very well,” Mr Boyle assured. “Far better than the volunteers.”

“Before I started this, I had only a wooly ideal of the Olympic Dream,” he said. “It’s been battered about a bit now but the volunteers most beautifully express this Olympic ideal. They give up their time for free. Some of them have got a lot of spare time because they haven’t got jobs, some of them haven’t got much. But they give up their time, and try to present something that is the best of all of us.”

Videos of the show have been played to the Prime Minister, other members of the government and the opposition as well as both Boris Johnson and the former mayor Ken Livingstone. The show is expected to be a celebration of Britishness and British history, but not, no doubt to the relief of many of London’s Olympic guests, a full compendium of the last thousand years. It will be “a celebration of what Britain has given to the world” rather than a comprehensive trawl through British history, sizeable warts and all.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links