Brits provide history lesson

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London's Olympic Stadium became a vast meadow in an opening ceremony that evoked the history of the United Kingdom to kick off the 2012 Olympics.

In the ceremony, choreographed by director Danny Boyle, London took the drama in the opposite direction from that taken by Beijing's Olympic organizers in 2008. In the shadow of Beijing's $40 million ceremony, the most expensive in history, Boyle decided not to try to use his $15 million budget to outdo the Chinese in a time of British fiscal restraint....

As the music picked up, the Industrial Revolution replaced the tree with half a dozen smokestacks that dramatically rose out of the grass, towering over toiling laborers and gilded men in suits and top hats smoking cigars.

After historic scenes such as the celebration of female suffrage, the scene paused as a subtle melody floated in the air. The drums then picked up, and soon men wearing costumes inspired by the album cover of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" joined in to represent the counterculture of the 1960s.

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