The Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics made all sorts of references to the children's literature that's been produced by British authors: Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Harry Potter were all rather prominent. But the book - or series of books, rather - that seemed to dominate the show was never actually referred to by name.
Take the landscape that opens the show, which looks something like this. The center of the stadium is filled with green, rolling fields, featuring a giant hill in the background. Idyllic, pastoral. It's Shire-like, even:
But then, after a bit of a show and speech, (by Kenneth Branagh!) the green burns away, smoking towers rise from the ground, and weary, dirty laborers replace the cheerful farmers-in-repose. It's supposed to dramatize the "progress" of the industrial revolution...
...instead, it looks ominous, even somewhat apocalyptic. I'm thinking less of industry and more of the orcs plundering Isengard. And though you can't really see it in this image, (you'll see it in the one immediately below) they're forging a ring in the center of the pillars.
Do I need to say it? We're looking at the heart of Mount Doom. (You've probably caught on by now, too - the English classic that goes unnamed, probably not even consciously invoked, but nonetheless haunts the ceremony is The Lord of the Rings. Apt, too, when you think about how needlessly expensive and exploitative these kinds of events tend to be!)
But we're not done yet! Because the Olympic flame is eventually raised, and it looks a little something like this.
"The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing."
Oh, yes. I went there.
Seriously, though, there was something vaguely terrifying about the entire process. How anyone could read the transformation of that adorable countryside into so much machinery-scarred Earth and smoke as anything other than a horror story... yeah, that's just confusing.