Saturday, August 9, 2008

2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies: A Spectacular Spectacular!

Spectacular, spectacular
No words in the vernacular
Can describe this great event
You'll be dumb with wonderment
(From the movie “Moulin Rouge”)

I was able to watch a portion of the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies, held in Beijing China, on the Internet yesterday, live. It wasn’t on a big screen mind you, but the impact was still the same.

It was probably the most spectacular Olympics ceremony ever. In fact, it is probably one of the best things ever shown on television for any Olympic event.

Of course, I still had to watch it in HD when NBC finally aired it, hours later, in prime time. While I admit that I am still a little miffed that NBC didn’t show it live, I can understand why they wanted to save the showing for prime time. Even though I had seen a good part of it on my computer screen, there is nothing that compares – well, maybe except for seeing it live – to the visual experience of this event when shown in HD. In fact, it is possible that television viewers had the best seat in the house, being able to see the faces of the thousands upon thousands of Chinese people who participated so skillfully, and even joyfully, in this event.

The initial portion of the ceremonies depicted part of the lengthy, and rich, history of China and its people. The event opened with 2008 drummers, using Fou, a 3,000-year-old percussion drum-like instrument, banging in precise rhythm on drums that lighted with their touch. They also used it to form the time clock counting down the final minute to the opening. Using a large LCD screen with an image of a giant unfolding scroll, participants formed precise circles, made large drawings using the movements of their bodies, had thousands of boat rowers with oars in formation, made Chinese characters with giant character blocks, and also had a giant world globe with people running, some of them upside-down and sideways, on the surface. Images were projected on a giant screen like structure at the top of the “Bird’s Nest” stadium; in some cases the faces of people were projected, in other cases, waterfalls that looked almost real.

The interior of the Bird’s Nest was also flooded with various colors for each segment, and the crowd held colored lights, giving the backdrop a colorful, shimmery effect. And the fireworks were phenomenal, probably the most stunning and artistic display ever seen.

Of course, nothing could top the actual lighting of the Olympic flame, which was done by former Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who carried the torch while suspended in air as if he were both flying and running to the flame. This was topped by a spectacular array of fireworks.

It was a performance that will certainly be hard to beat in the future. It also provided a breathtaking view of the depth of the history of China and its people, and also how far the country has come over even just the last decade. It’s being described as China’s “coming out” party, and it certainly got the message across.

It was a television event worth the wait. It also re-sets the bar for Olympic ceremonies for years to come, and I am not sure how it could be topped. But I am sure right now, those involved in planning future Olympic opening ceremonies are already working on trying.

My score for this event – a perfect 10!

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, here.

No comments: