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Danny Boyle Recreates Bucolic English Countryside for London's 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony; Stephen Daldry Also On Deck

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood June 13, 2012 at 2:36PM

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is facing a challenge that would make most directors shrink: Directing a cast of thousands, including a village cricket team and parade of nurses, plus 12 horses, 10 chickens, 9 geese and 70 (!) sheep. But this isn't a new film -- it's London's 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
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Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is facing a challenge that would make most directors shrink: Directing a cast of thousands, including a village cricket team and parade of nurses, plus 12 horses, 10 chickens, 9 geese and 70 (!) sheep. But this isn't a new film -- it's London's 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, for which Boyle is the artistic director.

Boyle's vision for the opening ceremony promises an authentically British expanse. Real grass, plows, soil and possibly artificial rain clouds (if actual English rain clouds don't make an appearance on July 27) are all part of the plan to create a bucolic UK vista. Boyle describes it as "an attempt to capture a picture of ourselves as a nation, where we come from and where we want to be."

The opening ceremony, titled "Isles of Wonder," is scheduled to run three hours, and has already required a whopping 157 rehearsals involving the odd 10,000 volunteer performers who have routinely given up their nights and weekends to be a part of the show. The ceremonies will cost a total of $126 million (81 million in British pounds).

But Boyle isn't the only film director with a major role in the London games. Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") is the creative director for all four of the 2012 Olympic summer ceremonies. The "Billy Elliot" director made the point that the opening ceremony reflects Boyle's "singular vision," as opposed to a committee. That's one way to pass the buck. 

This article is related to: Danny Boyle, Stephen Daldry, London Olympics 2012


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.