07/26/2012 09:48 am ET Updated Jul 27, 2012

Opening Ceremony Moments: Muhammad Ali, Rocket Man Featured In Iconic Ceremonies (VIDEO)

Pomp? Check. Circumstance? Check. Fireworks? Obviously.

The Opening Ceremony for the Olympics is appointment viewing even for those who can't tell a discus from a slam dunk. With Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle helming the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics we should be treated -- if the early leaks are to be believed -- to pomp, circumstance and then some.

Of course, Boyle has his work cut out for him if he wants the 2012 event to stand out from the crowd. Conjuring a "rocket man" and relying on some breathtaking long-range archery, the creative minds behind recent Opening Ceremonies have gone all out, even if not all ideas worked as well in practice as they may have on paper. From the poignancy of Muhammad Ali's appearance in 1996 to the complex choreography of Beijing, anything is possible.

Sure, there's always an off chance of some poor execution, wardrobe malfunctions and some all-around gaffes. But all in all, the opening ceremony is always a spectacle, a very expensive spectacle. And what better way to open the world's biggest sporting event?

To get a taste of what past ceremonies have been like, watch some of the most unforgettable moments from the shows that have kicked off previous Olympic Games.



Olympic Opening Ceremony Moments