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OTHERS > Danny Boyle shifts to royal court

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Danny Boyle wins plaudits for his Olympic showpiece, while enhancing his place among Britain’s cultural elite. However, he plays down his role to ‘warm up’

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The Olympic flame is lit inside the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL

The Olympic flame is lit inside the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic stadium in London. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL

Danny Boyle stunned the world with his spectacular Olympics opening ceremony but the Hollywood-feted filmmaker has won over his own country and enhanced his place among the nation’s cultural elite with his unpretentious approach to life.

Boyle, 55, was initially considered an odd choice to devise the ceremony that would showcase Britain to the world and set the tone for the 2012 Games.

After all, he had shot to fame with the stark 1996 film “Trainspotting” with its gritty portrayal of heroin addicts in working-class Edinburgh and an unforgettable Ewan McGregor diving into a filthy toilet to retrieve drugs. His rags-to-riches movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, which won him an Oscar in 2008, also depicted the harsh reality of life, with graphic images of Indian street children woven into an upbeat story about an underdog beating the odds.

But Olympics organizers insisted Boyle’s experience, energy, passion for England and unusual vision made him the perfect man for the job. They were proved right.

Boyle’s 27 million pound ($42 million) extravaganza was acclaimed internationally for highlighting the essence of Britain by mixing history, culture and humor in a technically stunning show.

Self-deprecating humor, energy

EPA Photo 



It was tough to follow the extravagant opening ceremony by Beijing four years ago but Boyle pulled it off.

As with his movies, he used a frenzied, high energy and compulsive soundtrack during the opening ceremony, deploying self-deprecating humor to highlight Britain’s quirkiness with fake clouds, dancing nurses and neon doves on bikes.

But his coup of the evening was starring Queen Elizabeth in a film with James Bond actor Daniel Craig, with this link to royalty cementing the position of the independent filmmaker unfazed by Hollywood glitz in the top echelons of British popular culture.

‘Warm up’ for the main show

AFP Photo 

Boyle has modestly played down his role in the Olympics, saying his part was just the warm up for the main show -- the athletes -- while praising the thousands of volunteer performers. His volunteers have in turn praised him, amazed at his down-to-earth manner as he chatted with them all.

Despite much media scrutiny by a harsh British press, no one has stepped forward to say a bad word about Boyle who has discarded a religious upbringing along the way but talks about the values and work ethic he derived from his working class background in northern England.

He said at the Olympics he wanted to give back to Britain and to London and included workers, unions, and hospital staff in the show as they are so important to the country.

“This country and this city ... has given me everything I’ve got in my life, apart from my upbringing which was in Manchester and the values I got from that,” he told reporters.

“In terms of opportunities I’ve had in my life, this city, which I’m very proud to live in, has given me everything.”

Boyle’s Olympics showpiece has won him plaudits across Britain -- and a flurry of bets that he will be knighted by the queen in the New Year Honours List.

July/30/2012

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