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Have I fallen into a time machine and it's July 2012 all over again (only with strangely cool temperatures)? ;) I can't find any other explanation why this thread grew by 15 pages within just one week, since my last visit.

But it shows very well: London 2012 obviously left no one cold if it's still capable to stir up controversial discussions even six months later. ;) By the way: The opening ceremony took place exactly half a year ago today. How time flies...

I've downloaded the opening ceremony soundtrack a couple of weeks ago - and I really must say: "And I Will Kiss" (the Underground piece used for the Pandemonium segment) is truly one of the most stirring and original musical pieces ever used for a big ceremony (Olympic or other). I even find it more impressive if one just listens to it, without the corresponding pictures from the opening ceremony. Very atmospheric, sometimes moving, sometimes spooky, sometimes cosy, sometimes rather cold and abrasive. A brilliant piece underlining how Britain and the world was thrown into modern age by industrialisation, the hardship of war and reconstruction and the changes within society. A story that not only Britain, but also other parts of the world (especially the other industrialised countries who played a role in the two World Wars) experienced. That storyline could have been used also for an opening ceremony in France, Italy, Germany or the US, for example - only with slightly different twists. And that is what makes that segment and also its music so amazing.



EDIT: Sorry, it's of course Underworld, not Underground (I'm still a bit confused by my visit to London in September apparently ;)).

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I think when the papers were running with the idea of the Blitz recreation a few months before the ceremony it was discussed on here. And I don't remember any of our German members having a big problem with it. If the Blitz was to be portrayed, I couldn't imagine Boyle doing it with a Marching Band blaring out "Two World Wars and One World Cup, Doo Dah, Doo Dah". It could've been weaved into the narrative after Pandamonium portraying sensitively a major episode in the history of East London.

In fact, my guess for the ceremony was not far off this. I foresaw green and pleasent being replaced with the industry as it played out. Then you have the blitz, dark clouds, thunderous music, then a scene showing the aftermath, then you have the green and pleasent returning (i.e. the creation of the Olympic Park and a reawakening). But Boyle chose broader brustrokes and more imaginative metaphors than simply a history of the East End which is what my guess was.

But the Blitz scene didn't happen so it's a moot point.

Well, I wasn't too fond of the idea of having the Blitz represented. Not so much because I feel guilty as a German for what my ancestors did, but because in general, I'd always find "in your face"-style representations of wars in an Olympic opening ceremony inappriopriate.

But I agree that it would have been a matter of staging. If you staged the Blitz rather metaphorically, with dark clouds and thunderous music instead of miniature bombers dropping bombs on a recreation of the East End, it could work well without stepping on anyone's foot.

I'm curious how Munich 2022 or any other German Olympic host city would do it. Either they stage a complete history-free opening ceremony (like Vancouver did, which simply told a story about the host country instead of looking back into its past) - or, if it's history-based, it simply can't avoid the ugly mark we Germans left in the world especially in the years between 1939 and 1945. If they choose the latter approach, they could do it in a similar metaphoric and sublime way as stated above.

But before that, the interesting question will be: How will Tokyo 2020 do it? ;) Or they'll choose the "We simply show our country's culture" approach of Nagano 1998.

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<snip> - and I really must say: "And I Will Kiss" (the Underground piece used for the Pandemonium segment) is truly one of the most stirring and original musical pieces ever used for a big ceremony (Olympic or other). I even find it more impressive if one just listens to it, without the corresponding pictures from the opening ceremony. Very atmospheric, sometimes moving, sometimes spooky, sometimes cosy, sometimes rather cold and abrasive. A brilliant piece underlining how Britain and the world was thrown into modern age by industrialisation, the hardship of war and reconstruction and the changes within society. A story that not only Britain, but also other parts of the world (especially the other industrialised countries who played a role in the two World Wars) experienced. That storyline could have been used also for an opening ceremony in France, Italy, Germany or the US, for example - only with slightly different twists. And that is what makes that segment and also its music so amazing.

EDIT: Sorry, it's of course Underworld, not Underground (I'm still a bit confused by my visit to London in September apparently ;)).

Absolutely! As a piece of if music alone it stirs the souls, lifts the spirit and makes you want to punch the air. Rick Smith of Underworld said he found it a very difficult project and it took him a long time to compose (in an interview with BBC 6 Music).

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I waited several months to contribute comments to this
thread because the OC was such a head scratcher that I had to sort out what I
thought I saw. I didn’t want to be too critical during the games or too soon after,
so I waited to comment till now-ish.


I continue to be underwhelmed by most aspects of the show,

including Underworld’s contribution. Yes there were crescendos and driving
excitement and soothingly sweet melodic moments (Caliban’s dream), and it had
sort of a youthful feel due to the synthesized nature of the compositions, but
that also made it feel a bit dated to me.


I’ll admit my expectations may have been too high, and I did
expect more moments of visual and theatrical clarity and modernism, so I’ll
just say this British effort was not my cup of tea. The director was built up
way too high (same for Heatherwick) and made way too many questionable decision
about not only large segments of the show but small sequences as well.


Just my personal view here, I realize the show was well received

by many. However, I have also heard it called the greatest opening ceremony of
all time……in my universe it didn’t approach that.

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Well, I wasn't too fond of the idea of having the Blitz represented. Not so much because I feel guilty as a German for what my ancestors did, but because in general, I'd always find "in your face"-style representations of wars in an Olympic opening ceremony inappriopriate.

But I agree that it would have been a matter of staging. If you staged the Blitz rather metaphorically, with dark clouds and thunderous music instead of miniature bombers dropping bombs on a recreation of the East End, it could work well without stepping on anyone's foot.

I'm curious how Munich 2022 or any other German Olympic host city would do it. Either they stage a complete history-free opening ceremony (like Vancouver did, which simply told a story about the host country instead of looking back into its past) - or, if it's history-based, it simply can't avoid the ugly mark we Germans left in the world especially in the years between 1939 and 1945. If they choose the latter approach, they could do it in a similar metaphoric and sublime way as stated above.

But before that, the interesting question will be: How will Tokyo 2020 do it? ;) Or they'll choose the "We simply show our country's culture" approach of Nagano 1998.

I think that if Tokyo lands 2020 - they should avoid the national "introduction" approach of Beijing, and aim more for a London style show - by picking unique aspects of Japanese contribution towards the global good and expanding on them. The reason I'm lukewarm to the idea of Tokyo 2020 is that I feel Tokyo 1964 was their coming out party. Even though there was no elaborate ceremony then, there was still enough pomp to retintroduce the new, postwar Japan to the world. 1972 and 1998 reiterated this. Now we're up for a fourth serving. Perhaps Tokyo could latch on to a universal idea - peace or the environment, and expand on that.

I think that the there will be an increasing tenor in the 21st Century ceremony on hosts not just self promoting their own culture, but promoting global culture and ideas. The environment, in particular, is an area that would be interesting to explore.

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I think that if Tokyo lands 2020 - they should avoid the national "introduction" approach of Beijing, and aim more for a London style show - by picking unique aspects of Japanese contribution towards the global good and expanding on them. The reason I'm lukewarm to the idea of Tokyo 2020 is that I feel Tokyo 1964 was their coming out party. Even though there was no elaborate ceremony then, there was still enough pomp to retintroduce the new, postwar Japan to the world. 1972 and 1998 reiterated this. Now we're up for a fourth serving. Perhaps Tokyo could latch on to a universal idea - peace or the environment, and expand on that.

I think that the there will be an increasing tenor in the 21st Century ceremony on hosts not just self promoting their own culture, but promoting global culture and ideas. The environment, in particular, is an area that would be interesting to explore.

I think it would depend on the hosts. Someone's like London's is just soooo familiar, it would have been superfluous to go through another rendition of British history 101 (that said, it still seems to piss a lot of people off here they didn't do a standard timeline of their history from Stonehenge era to the present day).

I don't think a Rio or an Istanbul ceremony could be anything else but national. Tokyo? I think it could go two ways, I could see them doing something a bit more universal, but I'd also love to see them highlight some of the more quirky and colourful aspects of their modern culture - from karaoke to manga and cosplay!

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I think it would depend on the hosts. Someone's like London's is just soooo familiar, it would have been superfluous to go through another rendition of British history 101 (that said, it still seems to piss a lot of people off here they didn't do a standard timeline of their history from Stonehenge era to the present day).

I don't think a Rio or an Istanbul ceremony could be anything else but national. Tokyo? I think it could go two ways, I could see them doing something a bit more universal, but I'd also love to see them highlight some of the more quirky and colourful aspects of their modern culture - from karaoke to manga and cosplay!

i have a picture in my head that tokyo2020 OC will be horrible if they added amine and cosplay into the mix (e.g. thank tim from london 2012) put it at the closing ceremony. what would like to see if tokyo get the bid is a more about the past mixing in with modern and one or two in jokes might not be a bad idea.

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i have a picture in my head that tokyo2020 OC will be horrible if they added amine and cosplay into the mix (e.g. thank tim from london 2012) put it at the closing ceremony. what would like to see if tokyo get the bid is a more about the past mixing in with modern and one or two in jokes might not be a bad idea.

Oh well, different tastes. I'd certainly prefer a "fun" Tokyo ceremony to a solemn one like Nagano's or Athens. They might have been beautiful in their own way, but left me "cold".

London's, on the other hand, was the most enjoyable I've ever watched. I saw it all with a huge smile on my face and a number of laugh out loud moments. To me that was magic!

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OK, I needed a little time and space to return with a level-head here. I was getting too emotional. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, 2 contributions:

1. Re prospective Tokyo ceremonies. Well, since Fukushima is now a reality, maybe time to bring Godzilla out? ANd then the 3-D glasses might really work.

2. Don't know if it was published before but this (BBC no less) article helps explain NBC's side of their London OC coverage. And why not?

Choreographer Akram Khan has said he is upset his Olympic opening ceremony tribute to victims of the 7 July London bombings was not aired in the US.

Khan said he felt "disheartened and disappointed" NBC cut the segment which featured him and 50 dancers perform to Abide With Me, sung by Emeli Sande.

Instead, NBC aired an interview with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

NBC said it had had no indication the segment was a reference to the attacks.

"I am really sad that I couldn't show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don't think it's any less or more than any of the other pieces," Khan told the Associated Press.

"Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough?

"It brings to mind the question - but maybe I'm wrong because I don't really know the reason - but it brings to mind a question that maybe it's too truthful, and I think that says it all really," he said.

Khan said he was asked by artistic director Danny Boyle to design a section of the opening ceremony around the theme of mortality.

Along with images of loved ones lost by those in the stadium, the segment was widely interpreted as a tribute to the 52 victims of the bombings in 2005.

However, NBC maintained the performance was never presented to them as such.

The ceremony's programme described the performance as dramatising "the struggle between life and death using such powerful images of mortality as dust and the setting sun".

NBC - which holds the exclusive rights to air the Games in the US - broadcast the ceremony on a time-delayed basis so it could be shown during primetime and made editing changes.

The network has also received criticism for not providing a live stream of the event.

NBC said there were often such production decisions when showing a taped version of a ceremony.

"We are live streaming every sporting event, all 32 sports and all 302 medals … The opening and closing ceremonies, however, are entertainment spectacles," the network said in a statement. [bolding is mine.]

"Our award-winning production team will present them on a medium that best demonstrates their grandeur and majesty, and at a time when friends and family are able to gather together to watch, which is in primetime."

A record-setting 40.7m people in the US watched NBC's first night of summer Olympics coverage.

It topped the previous mark of 39.8m who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympics begin, and the 34.9m who watched the first night from Beijing four years ago.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19037588

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1. Re prospective Tokyo ceremonies. Well, since Fukushima is now a reality, maybe time to bring Godzilla out? ANd then the 3-D glasses might really work.

I could actually see them doing that! I don't think it's far-fetched.

The more I think of it, the more i think they could well play with their pop culture.Sorta got glimpses of them trying it in their 2016 presentation when they were trying to show their "fun" side.

Edited by Sir Rols
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I think that the there will be an increasing tenor in the 21st Century ceremony on hosts not just self promoting their own culture, but promoting global culture and ideas. The environment, in particular, is an area that would be interesting to explore.

Yes I totally agree with this. London explored the youth option, and I think future cities that don't feel they need to promote their culture on a global stage would look towards more universal goals as a reason for bidding, winning and hosting a Games. In an ever globally connected world where people know more about foreign culture, and we are now entering a stage of cities potentially hosting a third Games, I do see a trend to move towards a more 'message' based Games rather than a cultural one.

The environment would be an excellent topic to explore through a Games.

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@DarJoLe: "The environment would be an excellent topic to explore through a Games."

The Games as a whole (as opposed to the ceremonies) have already been doing this in recent years, both in the sense of increasing efforts towards "environmental friendliness" and things like London's wildflowers and nature reserves. Also, because universal themes are relatively easy to symbolise, I think it's more likely that in most cases the national flavour will be preserved in ceremonies, with nods to universal themes along the way (like London's "Inspire a Generation" and nation-uniting cauldron).

@baron-pierreIV:

The 7/7 connection to the Akram Khan dance was indeed only made by a BBC commentator, not announced by the ceremony producers.

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I could actually see them doing that! I don't think it's far-fetched.

The more I think of it, the more i think they could well play with their pop culture.Sorta got glimpses of them trying it in their 2016 presentation when they were trying to show their "fun" side.

Yeah, Godzilla would get peckered to death by a ton of Pokemons and Pikachus. And Miss Kitty would battle it out with Mothra!

And from a Spaniard on SSC: apparently, the 'rising smokestacks' idea even predates the 2007 Las Vegas instance I found. He claims, with photographic proof (below), that said idea was used at the 2005 Almeria Med Games Opening; and he told me in a PM that the rising structures also told part of the story of Spain, converting into islamis mosque towers, and then into Christian church towers. So quite versatile indeed.

bayyanashow9.jpg

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Every time I wander into town I see a massive brick chimney rising high into the sky, it takes me straight back to last summer and those amazing structures rising up from the stadium floor. I really don't care where the idea came from it was a fantastic sight and so realistic too. Ive said it on here time after time, theres no such thing as a new idea, just different ways of interptreting it.

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Mmmmmm. An idea is first born somewhere, sometime. Who thought of the first telephone? Toothpaste? Post-it? Camera? Cauldron? Torch relay? etc., etc.

And if one can trace it, then great! Davey, there's NOTHING wrong in tracing who did what first for ceremonies either. I guess some of us are just more into history than others.

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I guess its your thing what with the book and everything.

The point about the telephone I would say people had communicated across distances in different ways before, the telephone was the new interpretation of that and a better way, it wasnt a new idea, it was a new way of doing it.

The chimneys in the above pictures compared to what we saw in London look a very poor comparison, without seeing how they rose of cause. I would be interested to see how they worked, but again its years before and at the time probably were the bees knees.

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I guess its your thing what with the book and everything.

The chimneys in the above pictures compared to what we saw in London look a very poor comparison, without seeing how they rose of cause. I would be interested to see how they worked, but again its years before and at the time probably were the bees knees.

No clip of the 2005 ceremony has appeared on YouTube, but I did ask the guy (from ALmeria) and he did say they rose the same way.

But then u contradict yourself slightly because even if they were 'poorly' conceived or look inferior to the London smokestacks, then as you said, 2012 is merely a refinement of the first known use of the staging idea. And until some video of that moment comes out, I think we can take the Almerian guy's word just as some Londoner (like yourself) would justifiably be proud of the moment. For me, it was probably the most jaw-dropping moment of the OC...not because of its technical possibility (which is really rather simple), but the sleight-of-hand manner in which it was achieved. Still, it interests me greatly to know how, where, when it was done before. In my book, yeah, just as another precedent example, I do bring out that Athens' head was not entirely original either. It is known that the ancient Romans employed a similar technique with a water show in the now-dry Lago Fusine (outside Rome). And there are many others. I mean the whole ceremony business is a game of oneupsmanship with each new host.

I think a purely universal opening ceremony would be very generic and thus boring. You always need a certain amount of patriotism in an opening ceremony to create that special atmosphere of joy and pride that is necessary for a good ceremony.

Exactly. And the IOC Charter (from which everything Olympic springs) does encourage a display of the host's national character and culture in the ceremonies. The IOC gives the hosts their time to shine and with the advent of global television, there is no better advertisement for the host city and country to attract future generations of visitors and tourists. It worked immensely for Barcelona!!

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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You forget that many of those potential "third time hosts" have never staged a modern Olympic opening ceremony - in the sense of the extravaganza of show elements, history parades, special effects etc. we have encountered since Moscow 1980 or especially LA 1984. London, for example, had never really showcased its history and/or culture in an Olympic opening ceremony before 2012 - in 1908 and 1948, the Olympic ceremonies still consisted mainly of the traditional protocol with only few (if any) and very modest cultural displays. The same applies to (potential) third time host Paris which had no (1900) or a very traditional (1924) opening ceremony in its previous two Games. Only LA and Athens could claim that they have already showcased their country and its history and culture with a big extravaganza in 1984 respectively 2004.

But even then: I strongly expect national cultural and historical elements to pop up also in every future Olympic opening ceremony. Olympic Games are a huge opportunity to showcase the host country and to bolster the national prestige. Even the demonstratively "non-political" Munich 1972 Games were actually very political since West Germany wanted to show what a peaceful, civilised and democratic country it had become in the 27 years since World War II. So no Olympic host will ever stage a purely universal opening ceremony IMO, and it's actually good this way. I think a purely universal opening ceremony would be very generic and thus boring. You always need a certain amount of patriotism in an opening ceremony to create that special atmosphere of joy and pride that is necessary for a good ceremony.

Yep, totally agree. Most ceremonies include a few segments that are universal (peace, brotherhood, coming together, looking to the future, pregnant women and DNA, etc) anyway - usually they're amongst the more boring bits anyway. People want to get a taste of the hosts. And for the host governments, who are footing the bill, they're wanting to give their citizens something to cheer on or be proud about. What's the point of moving the games around to different hosts if they're all going to start feeling generic.

London may not have delved into its looooong history, and tried to be more youth oriented and non-stereotypical, but what it did do was still so very British - even too British in the views of some the non-afficionados here.

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You've been PMing that guy on SSC have you Baron? Complete troll, cannot promote Madrid 2020 without snide remarks and lies about London 2012, claiming the venues were failtures and the Games were all about property development with no Olympic spirit. Mods at SSC have given him a little sabatical, and I know for a fact he's been banned from that site already and that that's his second account.

Wouldn't take his word for much to be honest....doing almost as good a job at promoting Madrid as JJ did for Abuja.

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@baron-pierreIV : "Mmmmmm. An idea is first born somewhere, sometime."

OK, I'll take the bait again. Very large inflatable props have been around for decades (think Pink Floyd pigs etc.) but here, as quoted in my rambling guide to the London Opening, is the much earlier ultimate source for the Industrial Era scene and its inflatable chimneys, not just thematically, but, if you think about it, also technically:

from Paradise Lost (book 1)
by John MIlton
1667


... [introduces two teams of demons, one mining metal on the slopes of the fiery hill, the second smelting it on the adjoining plain, then:]
A third as soon had form'd within the ground
A various mould, and from the boyling cells
By strange conveyance fill'd each hollow nook,
As in an Organ from one blast of wind
To many a row of Pipes the sound-board breaths.
Anon out of the earth a Fabrick huge
Rose like an Exhalation, with the sound
Of Dulcet Symphonies and voices sweet, ...

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I have to say, for lack of a better word "exoticism" is part of the appeal of the Olympic Games. It's fun experiencing new parts of the world and tasting different cultures. I think that's part of why the IOC finds new frontiers appealing. As it is, we are moving uncomfortably fast towards a homogenized, global culture. We already have an increasingly global economy. I think it's essential that we fight to preserve what makes us unique. I don't want a Tokyo opening ceremony to bear any resemblance to Rio or Sydney. I loved Athens' OC, but I wouldn't want London's to be the same. The variety is valuable and it needs to be protected.

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OK, I'll take the bait again. Very large inflatable props have been around for decades (think Pink Floyd pigs etc.) but here, as quoted in my rambling guide to the London Opening, is the much earlier ultimate source for the Industrial Era scene and its inflatable chimneys, not just thematically, but, if you think about it, also technically:

The chimneys looked suspended not inflated.

I have to say, for lack of a better word "exoticism" is part of the appeal of the Olympic Games. It's fun experiencing new parts of the world and tasting different cultures. I think that's part of why the IOC finds new frontiers appealing. As it is, we are moving uncomfortably fast towards a homogenized, global culture. We already have an increasingly global economy. I think it's essential that we fight to preserve what makes us unique. I don't want a Tokyo opening ceremony to bear any resemblance to Rio or Sydney. I loved Athens' OC, but I wouldn't want London's to be the same. The variety is valuable and it needs to be protected.

The other would be a total snooze fest. Give me national pride culture

and power (hold the text bubbles while your at it)!

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The chimneys looked suspended not inflated.

Exactly. They were hoisted by cables. I don't know where Mark Snow got the "inflatable" idea because I never even mentioned it in the same breath. If anything inflated, it was that big octopus, and that was in the CLosing, was it not? Also for the record, Mark, I don't include rock concerts etc. Not in my interest and genre. ; ;)

You've been PMing that guy on SSC have you Baron? Complete troll, cannot promote Madrid 2020 without snide remarks and lies about London 2012, claiming the venues were failtures and the Games were all about property development with no Olympic spirit. Mods at SSC have given him a little sabatical, and I know for a fact he's been banned from that site already and that that's his second account.

Wouldn't take his word for much to be honest....doing almost as good a job at promoting Madrid as JJ did for Abuja.

FGS, Rob. I'm not involved in some lengthy discourse with him. I just sought to confirm something about the foto and the info he posted. I don't think the "composed that foto" just to troll on SSC. C'mon, give me a little more credit. I can tell a destructive troll from a harmless one.

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@paul: "The chimneys looked suspended not inflated."

They were actually both- the suspension was partly a guide mechanism to stop them from bending sideways in the wind; the inflation was the key to their "solid" appearance.


@baron-pierreIV: "for the record, Mark, I don't include rock concerts etc."

You may not, but Ceremony organisers certainly do when they're looking for ideas.


@baron-pierreIV [re Almeria's OC towers]: "No clip of the 2005 ceremony has appeared on YouTube"

shows why they were made of gauze- they were actually very tall costumes!
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