As gorgeous panoramas of the British Isles played over the screens, a tiered grassy hill played center stage in the Olympic opening ceremonies. Kenneth Branagh, one of Great Britain's best living Shakespearean actors, played a part as an important leader, quoting lines from The Tempest.
During a quiet moment in the ceremony, Branagh approaches the hill, and as The Tempest's Caliban, he recites one of the play's most famous lines:
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
The rolling grass then made way as performers dressed as farm peasants rolled away the sod in favor of the Industrial Revolution. Kenneth Branagh, his character symbolic of greed and progress, seemed to enjoy his wicked roll, as he stood around chomping a cigar. Soon, performers dressed as World War I soldiers emerged, and red poppies made their way onto giant television screens. In the UK and Canada, the flower is a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers.
In a whimsical nod to both British invasions, a group of men dressed as The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper emerged from one side of the stadium, while 18th century adorned in military garb typical for the Revolutionary War.
Kenneth Branagh continued his role quietly, smiling as he strolled through it all, as orange smelted Olympic rings descended upon the stadium, a symbol of the city's revival to prepare for the games.
After that came the modern periodÂ—20th century and today. Daniel Craig, reprising his role as James Bond, entered a room to announce himself to Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen and Bond exited the castle, chased by her beloved Corgies. The two appeared to get into a helicopter and whizzed through the city, with groups of people waving them on, including a statue of Winston Churchill come to life.
And guess what? The Queen jumped out and parachuted down into the stadium under a Union Jack parachute. Well, not really, but the spectacle was really convincing. After the real Queen Elizabeth was situated in the Royal area, she oversaw representatives of each branch of British military carry and raise the national flag on a pole in the central hill.
As the flag was raised, a chorus consisting of deaf and hearing impaired children sang and signed the English national anthem.
This wasn't the end of the Olympic Opening ceremonies, for scenes of Mary Poppins, J.K. Rowling, and other famous children's stories appeared later. All in all, Danny Boyle, the mastermind behind the extravagant scene, created an amazingly breathtaking tribute to Great Britain and the world.
Oh, and Mr. Bean made quite an appearance.