London's Olympic Stadium will be transformed into a rural British idyll for the Games opening ceremony on July 27, organizers said. The ceremony's artistic director Danny Boyle - whose film "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars - said the £27 million ($42 million, 33 million euro) ceremony would give Britons "a picture of ourselves as a nation."
"On entry to the Olympic Stadium in East London the audience will see a scene that represents a traditional and idyllic view of the British countryside," Games organisers LOCOG said in a statement.
"The set will be complete with meadows, fields and rivers, and featuring families taking picnics, sport being played on the village green and farmers tilling the soil whilst real farmyard animals graze."
A billion people worldwide are expected to watch the extravaganza on television, organisers said.
Boyle paid tribute to the cast of 10,000 volunteers, who have already held 157 rehearsals.
"I've been astounded by the selfless dedication of the volunteers," he said. "They are the pure embodiment of the Olympic spirit and represent the best of who we are as a nation."
"The best way to tell that story is through working with real people," added the filmmaker, who has reserved a role for staff from Britain's state-funded National Health Service in the ceremony.
The largest bell in Europe will ring inside the stadium to open the extravaganza, which has been named "Isles in Wonder" after a speech from William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest".
The 27-tonne bell is inscribed with a quote from one of the play's characters Caliban: "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises".
Boyle said the bell was a fitting inclusion because "that's how communities notified each other that something important was going to happen.... After the war the bells were rung in London to announce the peace and we will begin our Games with a symbol of peace."
Fans invited to the sneak preview yesterday in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, were urged personally by the Slumdog Millionaire director to 'save the surprise' for the one billion around the world who will watch on Friday night.
Organisers invited London 2012 volunteers, competition winners and others connected to the Games on the proviso that they kept quiet about what they saw. The ceremony’s artistic director Danny Boyle addressed the huge crowd and called on them to reveal nothing ahead of Friday’s showpiece by not posting any images on social networks.
London 2012 - Canoe Slalom: www.london2012.com/canoe-slalom
London 2012 - Canoe Sprint: www.london2012.com/canoe-sprint