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London 2012: Danny Boyle's Record-Breaking Opening Ceremonies

July 31, 2012


All eyes were on London last Friday for director Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony. With 40.7 million viewers worldwide, London 2012 broke the record 39.8 million viewers who tuned in to watch Atlanta’s opening ceremony in 1996 and became the most-watched Olympic opening ceremony.

Boyle, most famous for directing the film Slumdog Millionaire, fused various era’s in Britain’s history for the monumental opening, chronicling the country’s cultural past, from Shakespeare to Harry Potter to Bond to Mr. Bean to Queen Elizabeth. 

Watching the opening ceremonies, one could not help but be reminded of Hugh Grant’s speech as the Prime Minister of England in Love Actually, in which he recounted the cultural feats of the nation: “We may be a small country, but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that.”

The London 2012 opening was one that was packed with familiar faces, including Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Craig, David Beckham and Paul McCartney. British reporters called it everything from “brilliant” to “baffling to those abroad.”

But at its heart, Boyle’s opening ceremony was a tribute to the nation that he clearly loves. 

Although the political statement may have been lost on international audiences, Guardian blogger, Charlotte Higgins, called it “Boyle's impassioned poem of praise to the country he would most like to believe in. One that is tolerant, multicultural, fair and gay friendly and holds the principles of the welfare state stoutly at its heart.”

Viewership of Danny Boyle’s Britannia Spectacular is not the only record that has already been broken during London 2012; South Korea’s men’s archery team broke two world records on the first day of the games. 

It’s unlikely that Boyle’s opening ceremony, or the other record-breaking achievements of London 2012, will soon be forgotten in what is shaping up to be an amazing few weeks for both culture and athleticism.

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Edited by Braden Becker