Danny Boyle offers 2012 sneak peek

Updated: January 27, 2012, 12:24 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle offered a sneak peek Friday of his vision for the 2012 London Olympics: A massive bell that will ring in the opening ceremony along with a segment on one of Britain's most maligned institutions, the National Health Service.

His comments were unusual, as details about Olympic ceremonies are typically closely guarded secrets. But Boyle seemed almost giddy as he offered two small hints during a news conference to mark the six month-anniversary to the July 27 opening of the Games.

His attitude was a cross between "I have a secret" and "you will love it!"

"It's an enormous bloody thing," he said to chuckles at 3 Mills Studio, where the production is being shaped.

Boyle said he was fully aware of the pressures to produce the first Summer Games ceremony since Beijing enchanted the world in 2008. And while he had praise for other spectacles, he offered a clue to the feeling he hopes to invoke in London by citing the 2000 ceremony at the Sydney Games, calling that "the people's Games."

The "Slumdog Millionaire" director outlined his vision of the ceremony with the theme "Isles of Wonder," a nod to the British Isles.

He has ordered up a 27-ton bell to ring in the Games, playing on a custom from the time of William Shakespeare, when a theatrical performance was started with a proper clang.

The bell, which was cast Friday by a foundry in operation for centuries -- will be inscribed with a line from Act 3, Scene 2 of "The Tempest," in which Caliban says "Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises."

"We want people to be able to hear those noises," Boyle said.

And then there's that segment involving the health service -- not a typical subject for a sports ceremony. Boyle described the British system, which offers universal health care to all, as "something unique about our country." Organizers have recruited real nurses and other medical workers to take part in the segment.

Boyle's films and plays have both tremendous energy and visual flair. Though he's had success in fusing cultural influences, the creation of a spectacle that appeals to an audience in the billions around the world is a daunting challenge.

He seems to be having fun with it, though.

Boyle bounced up from his chair at the presentation, and introduced a "behind the scenes" film about the ceremony that featured shots of trapeze artists and dancers, seamstresses sewing costumes and an immense clear ball in which a person appeared to be rolling.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press