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Danny Boyle unveils London Olympics opening ceremony theme

Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, the artistic director for the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony in London, revealed Friday that the ceremony will be a Shakespeare-inspired celebration of British culture.


AFP - The theme of the London Olympics opening ceremony will be "Isles of Wonder", organisers revealed Friday, exactly six months before the showpiece extravaganza kicks off the 2012 Games.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle, the ceremony's artistic director, said the theme was inspired by a passage from William Shakespeare's comedy "The Tempest".

Boyle, whose "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars, said he was trying to keep the details of the July 27 ceremony under wraps, but he gave away the first details of the event, set to be watched by one billion TV viewers.

Fellow film director Stephen Daldry, the creative director for the Games ceremonies, told reporters the opening show would project "a journey which will celebrate who we are, who we were and who we wish to be".

The title "allows us to celebrate the rich heritage, diversity, energy, inventiveness, wit and creativity that truly defines the British Isles".

Boyle said the title came from "an amazing speech about the wondrous beauty of the island" featuring in Shakespeare's play.

Some 10,000 volunteer performers have already been recruited.

Boyle said he had commissioned the biggest ringing bell in Europe, which will hang at one end of the Olympic Stadium and be rung to start the opening ceremony. The bell will be inscribed with a key quote from "The Tempest".

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry began casting it as Boyle spoke. The foundry, the oldest manufacturing company in Britain, is a short distance from the stadium in east London.

"We want people to be able to hear this bell for hundreds of years," Boyle said.

He admitted that London would not rival the stunning opening ceremony staged at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, due to the tougher economic times.

"You are standing on the shoulder of giants when you do this kind of job because you cannot but live in the shadow of your predecessors," he said.

The event "will be spectacular but the reduction in scale will be inevitable".

The monumental Beijing ceremonies were "breathtaking" and the "sheer beauty" of Athens in 2004 was "very, very inspiring", he said, but he was looking to the 2000 Sydney Olympics for the event's tone.

"Sydney got the feel of a people's Games right," he added.

It was announced in December that the budget for the opening and closing ceremonies had been doubled to £81 million ($127 million, 97 million euros), reportedly after British Prime Minister David Cameron intervened.

Boyle, who made his name with the cult 1996 film "Trainspotting" about Scottish heroin addicts, pledged the ceremony would be more intimate than the massive pageant of drummers and dancers in Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium.

Opening ceremonies are "usually spectacular, but you think, how can you get the humanity in it?", he said.

The starting point for creating the show was the newly-erected 80,000-seater stadium itself, a much simpler design than the Bird's Nest.

"It's like a porcelain bowl inside," Boyle said.

"They've designed it so that it's just people. There's nothing else in it but people.

"You can actually see people's faces. So you get this intimacy about it."

Boyle promised to reveal more information in April.

The opening sequence will be about the recovery of a land that has been poisoned by its industrial legacy, referencing the wasteland from which the Olympic Park has been created.

It will also feature a sequence using staff from the National Health Service, as the state-run NHS is something "unique" about Britain.

Boyle also promised that the show would be infused with a British "sense of humour".

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