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mattygs

Why The Sour Grapes?

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I totally agree. Visually, it was everything I thought it should be. But somehow I felt like the content I expected wasn't there. Since it was directed by Zhang Yimou, I was really expecting a very thematic production much like his wuxia films(Hero, Flying Dagger). The ceremony relied too much on mass performances and lacked the intricate choroegraphy that I've seen in his films. The Chinese just a mass of people who like to scream. It needed more subtle moments. And the historical intrepretation was lacking. It didn't give the audience a sense of chronology that the Clypsedra segment provided in Athens. I want to know "Okay, so this came after this and developed into this." I'm pretty sure Chinese history is very confusing because some elements look like it could be both from prehistoric China or the Qing dynasty.

But it is strange to expect a movie director to replicate elements of his films in an event of this scale. If Steven Spielberg has remained involved in the OC, are we going to expect sharks projected on the roofrim, E.Ts gliding through space, a mass recreation of the Nanjing Massacre ala SPR, and cowboys riding around the stadium? Watch any of the major shows produced in China, including the various Olympic events leading up to this OC, and that will be a far more in-your-face display of "mass performance" ala the Arirang festival in North Korea. In fact, you will find that alot of people here feel the ceremony was undewelming because it didn't involve more people in ways they would expect!

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Just a quick note - the Chinese press obviously ate it up and the locals loved it - however the journos I have spoken with have said while they enjoyed the show, it was a baffling introduction to China. They agreed Sydney and Athens were far better orchaestrated introductions to each countries culture and history but they agree Beijing may have had the visual edge. I tend to agree with this. The Chinese threw some huge shapes and sounds out there - and for the most part they were very impressive. I did not - however - get a great sense of Chinese history. It was there - but it wasn't as front and centre as the last two ceremonies. I have bought the official dvds and will watch the entire ceremony again when I get home.

It's difficult to compress 5,000 years of continuous history into 50 minutes. You have to start w/ prehistory from the Peking Man's discovery of fire to the start of independent Chinese civilization then into kingdoms then unification under Qin Shi Huang Di. That's only the first 2,000 years. After that you have more dynasties like the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing and then the republic. Almost all of their history is recorded.

Australia's recorded history is only 200 years. Greece has a long history but there are some blips like the Roman rule and their virtual disapperance during the Ottoman era. Western philosophy toward istory is to leave it in the past. On the other hand, China's history is also its present. It is dynamic because history is being made and contant reference to history makes it a living history. It is static at the same time because it can mean the tradition can hinder innovation.

Zhang Yimou's challenge was how to convey China's utterly long and continuous history without making a linear litany if they copied Clypsedra. So he reminded the world that China's 4 great inventions make modern (and maybe Western) civilization possible. At the same time, he wanted to show that China is modern and comparable to the West. Zhang also had to contend w/ 2 audiences, the domestic audience and the international audience. He had to make something that any ordinary Chinese could feel proud of their country but understandable to foreigners at the same time. The compromise may have let down some expectations but many would agree the OC was magnificent and lavish. China's history has been the rise and fall of dynasties so Zhang had to show something that was enduring throughout all of them.

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I totally agree. Visually, it was everything I thought it should be. But somehow I felt like the content I expected wasn't there. Since it was directed by Zhang Yimou, I was really expecting a very thematic production much like his wuxia films(Hero, Flying Dagger). The ceremony relied too much on mass performances and lacked the intricate choroegraphy that I've seen in his films. The Chinese just a mass of people who like to scream. It needed more subtle moments. And the historical intrepretation was lacking. It didn't give the audience a sense of chronology that the Clypsedra segment provided in Athens. I want to know "Okay, so this came after this and developed into this." I'm pretty sure Chinese history is very confusing because some elements look like it could be both from prehistoric China or the Qing dynasty.

STADIUM SPECTACLE 101: Use mass formations in a large stadium because it allows the viewers in the farther seats to enjoy the spectacle. The use of 1 or a handful of performers to tell a story is VERY WEAK in a large stadium and does NOT work. In a proscenium theatre or 2,000 or so seats, it might. Why do you think the ancient Greeks (and all forms of Kabuki, Noh theatre) use masks? Because the actor's face to someone 60 - 80 feet away CANNOT be seen.

Clepsydra section of Athens only worked for those who saw it on TV because of the close-ups. Ask those who were there and they will tell you the whole thing was boring and a sleep-inducer.

As for the obscurity of the sequential Chinese history -- it really WASN'T necessary to clearly identify every dynasty or epoch. There were too MANY to be crammed in the 50 minutes or so (Chang, Qing, Ming, Bling, etc. -- all the same to the western mind). Since the theme was history thru scrolls, the BROAD STROKES were all that was necessary to tell the story.

Banzai, as I've said before, I have been watching Olympic Ceremonies for some 40 years now (so, some 9 Winter Games and 11 Summer editions)-- and Zhang Yimou and his team did a bang-up JOB with this one. There was really nothing more a Ceremonies-phile could ask for other than maybe it could've been a 2-hour Artistic show (minus the ridiculous March of the Nations).

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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Zhang Yimou's challenge was how to convey China's utterly long and continuous history without making a linear litany if they copied Clypsedra. So he reminded the world that China's 4 great inventions make modern (and maybe Western) civilization possible. At the same time, he wanted to show that China is modern and comparable to the West. Zhang also had to contend w/ 2 audiences, the domestic audience and the international audience. He had to make something that any ordinary Chinese could feel proud of their country but understandable to foreigners at the same time. The compromise may have let down some expectations but many would agree the OC was magnificent and lavish. China's history has been the rise and fall of dynasties so Zhang had to show something that was enduring throughout all of them.

Concur. You are absolutely right.

Broad strokes -- that's what Yimou used.

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STADIUM SPECTACLE 101: Use mass formations in a large stadium because it allows the viewers in the farther seats to enjoy the spectacle. The use of 1 or a handful of performers to tell a story is VERY WEAK in a large stadium and does NOT work. In a proscenium theatre or 2,000 or so seats, it might. Why do you think the ancient Greeks (and all forms of Kabuki, Noh theatre) use masks? Because the actor's face to someone 60 - 80 feet away CANNOT be seen.

Clepsydra section of Athens only worked for those who saw it on TV because of the close-ups. Ask those who were there and they will tell you the whole thing was boring and a sleep-inducer.

As for the obscurity of the sequential Chinese history -- it really WASN'T necessary to clearly identify every dynasty or epoch. There were too MANY to be crammed in the 50 minutes or so (Chang, Qing, Ming, Bling, etc. -- all the same to the western mind). Since the theme was history thru scrolls, the BROAD STROKES were all that was necessary to tell the story.

Banzai, as I've said before, I have been watching Olympic Ceremonies for some 40 years now (so, some 9 Winter Games and 11 Summer editions)-- and Zhang Yimou and his team did a bang-up JOB with this one. There was really nothing more a Ceremonies-phile could ask for other than maybe it could've been a 2-hour Artistic show (minus the ridiculous March of the Nations).

Ya, I can definitely see your point. My expectations were probably very very biased b/c I'm Chinese myself and Chinese history is so very fascinating to me. I was really expecting a presentation of linear progression of history like Athens did but now that I think about it, it'd probably take up the whole 50 minutes allotted to do so. :P

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I have been waiting for the right moment to interject this point, and I think now is the opportune time. It is a quote from MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES by Ric Birch who for those of you who know, is an old hand at these Olympic Ceremonies, having played major parts in the Los Angeles, Barcelona, Sydney, Torino, and these Beijing ceremonies.

From pages 188-189 of his book:

:rolleyes:

Could that have been Papaiannou -- with his penchant for using one person (i.e., the pregnant woman) in the stadium floor? So, we never heard about the other 2,499 'pregnant women' not showing up? :lol::lol:

As for this charge of "...not focusing on the individual..." Did they use 84 piano players this time? Did they have 27 'aerial' Torch-bearers polluting the stadium air, as I seem to remember a certain Ceremony in 2004 did? If one was paying close attention to the show, and not backing up on one's xenophobic haunches, one of the themes of the '08 show was "HARMONY" -- and this was Man's Harmony not only with nature, with the environment -- BUT WITHIN HIMSELF as well -- as evidenced by Tai Chi. WHAT COULD BE MORE INDIVIDUAL THAN THAT? And that is a far deeper meaning that any of the hokum that DP could've worked.

Yes, it is a dictum that because the stadium is a large-space, then it must be filled accordingly. Is it also any wonder that only Athens tries this "individual" thing -- which of course WOULDN'T WORK if:

(i) you didn't bring your super-powerful binoculars from home; and

(ii) you DIDN"T employ HIGH-DEF television cameras with zoom-in lenses which could then 'cheat' and offer close-ups of the performer's face?

You need not look further than the fact that 18000 odd posts later (oh my) and still nothing worth taking notice of.

I think that had not Athens preceded hosting, we would've had a very different Opening Ceremony in Beijing. I thought the OC was absolutely spectacular and as Greek, I felt proud that artistic ethos of Athens was continued in Beijing. I adored the simplicity and depth of Athens because I feel this is an exact personification of our culture. However in saying that, I would have never tolerated the same simplicity from the Chinese. And as far as I'm concerned, the Chinese delivered. Although I think it would have been much easier for the Chinese to revert to the spectacles of Sydney and Atlanta (which I hated) given they had the numbers and the overwhelming desire to 'wow' the planet. But thank god (or buddha) that they didn't and instead used their manpower in a very elaborate and elegant way, as a means of conveying their very old yet modern culture to the world. Chinese people should be very proud.

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You need not look further than the fact that 18000 odd posts later (oh my) and still nothing worth taking notice of.

U still around? :(

Baloney review. Nothing's that been said or posted already.

Jealous b*tch.

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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The Beijing Closing was well made and well produced, just like the Opening Ceremony. My only criticism, if a criticism at all, is that it seemed quite an odd thing to have a two hours closing after a 4 1/2 hour Opening Ceremony - ah well. The Chinese should certainly be proud of what they achieved at these Games.

Each Ceremony is unique and leaves its own mark. This is one reason I never like to compare ceremonies, in terms of ranking etc. Of course I should be very biased both Athens and London, having worked on the Athens Ceremonies and being British. The Greeks did a great job in 2004, as the Chinese did this year... and I'm sure we'll put on a great show in London in four years time. Athens was great, Sydney was great, Beijing was great, London will be great too.

I don't really have a problem with the pre-recorded "footprints" fireworks... I mean they would have looked much better done live, but they still looked good. The "link" with the International Space Station in the Athens Opening was pre-recorded too. Although the young girl being replace for "image" purposes was unfair and diabolical.

One point where I envy the Greeks is that no matter how much effort you put in to making an Olympic Games great, they are only yours for 16 days... they are Greek forever.

Stephen Powell and his team certainly did a great job too, I have to say (but then I guess I would, wouldn't I?)!

A certain "PYRROS2004" needs to stop acting so childish and grow up... then I guess hyperbole is a Greek tradition.

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Stephen Powell and his team certainly did a great job too, I have to say (but then I guess I would, wouldn't I?)!

Andrew, who is this 'Stephen Powell'?

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Just a quick note - the Chinese press obviously ate it up and the locals loved it - however the journos I have spoken with have said while they enjoyed the show, it was a baffling introduction to China. They agreed Sydney and Athens were far better orchaestrated introductions to each countries culture and history but they agree Beijing may have had the visual edge. I tend to agree with this. The Chinese threw some huge shapes and sounds out there - and for the most part they were very impressive. I did not - however - get a great sense of Chinese history. It was there - but it wasn't as front and centre as the last two ceremonies. I have bought the official dvds and will watch the entire ceremony again when I get home.

Amen to that.

I did enjoy the show, which at some times was trully stunning, but was not touched as much as I was by Athens...

But that's personnal and I am sure I would have had a better understanding of the whole show if someone with a good knowledge of China and its culture / history could have explained it to me while watching it.

Anyhow, that's the great thing about the Olympics: they are all different and so it should be!

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