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Opening Ceremony


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Sorry, guys, I don't agree with this "shallow/depth" thing you are talking about. There is NO need to make it deep or shallow. Zhang Yimou did what he does best in films, too -- spectacle with the use of mass formations, color, costumes, in short - unbridled spectacle...which is what the scale of a stadium needs. The cameras pick up the details. (And audiences, regardless of which nationality, pick up what they want and make of it what they also want.)

Indeed, ilustrado, when I say, make a show easy for int'l audiences...I DON'T mean insulting their intelligence...which marksnow unintentionally just did (to me). I get it that Shakespeare, considered the greatest write in the English language, is honored. (How could they not?) If you will go back to many early discussions here on GB even when London had just been picked, I posited that the OC would feature British authors, their creations-- which is their contribution to world culture; why the prediction is even there of the pre-2012 edition of my book, page 184! Was way ahead of you and Mr. Boyle in that regard.

Funny, ilustrado, that you're trying to look for deeper meanings, etc, in these ceremonies. :blink: No one is going out of their way to "insult people's intelligence by watering down these shows." Why should anyone? And how can you say, watering down anything if you haven't seen the shows which are pretty much tightly guarded affairs until they are unveiled? I don't know why one can't just enjoy them for what they are, spectacle and entertainment? Is there a certain stigma to that? I don't think so. If they can make a show appeal to a 7-year old whose first Olympic exposure this is, as well as to his/her grandfather whose, shall we say, 12th Olympic opening ceremony viewing this would be, then why not? In doing so, the producers would have achieved their job. And remember, many people (even a few here on GB), merely dismiss them and skip them altogether because they consider the sports competition as the only thing comprising the true meaning of the Olympics. So, in that regard, what good would all the "...deeper meanings and symbolisms and cabalistic symbols..." you seem to imply as features of an exceptional ceremony, matter?

Peter Ueberroth who, in a way, is partially responsible for setting the scale of Olympic (opening) ceremonies the way they are today, said: A good Opening sets the tone for the Olympic Games that will follow. What are the Olympic Games? Just a celebration of sport and brotherhood. You wrestle my arm; I'll wrestle yours, and we come out friends in the end; we go home with each other's pins and pendants. How complicated could that be?? :blink:

BTW, all of Chapter 8 in my book is devoted to a "very" deep telling of HOW they put together Beijing's OC. ;)

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I'm totally in favor of depth, but I'd argue that the ceremony needs to appeal on a simplistic, superficial level as well.

Also, I think we may be confusing depth with chaos. London was not "deep". It was emotional for the home crowd, which is not at all the same. In order to be "deep" something should reveal profound universal meaning and insight. I didn't see that in London's OC at all.

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@baron-pierreIV: "Zhang Yimou did what he does best in films, too -- spectacle with the use of mass formations, color, costumes, in short - unbridled spectacle."

You're not the first to make such statements about Zhang Yimou- but in reality, a film like "House of Flying Daggers" is at its best when a very large cinema screen is inhabited by a very small event. That could not easily be done in a stadium show, and was conspicuously absent in Beijing- but I think something of the same intimate intensity was captured at times in London (perhaps most startlingly in the live performance of Rowan Atkinson).


@baron-pierreIV: "I get it that Shakespeare, considered the greatest write in the English language, is honored."

But you don't seem to get that he was honoured by the flattery of imitation- his plays are stuffed full of odd asides and references, just like the London Opening. However, the story of "The Tempest" can become the story of "Forbidden Planet" and ultimately the London cultural presentation was just three simple stories.


@baron-pierreIV: "when London had just been picked, I posited that the OC would feature British authors, their creations-- which is their contribution to world culture"

Well, that and the first Industrial Revolution, and the codification of most worldwide sports, and the flawed but worthwhile concept of a unified system to ensure basic standards of education, healthcare etc., and some of the most thrilling songs ever written, and ... (and oddly enough, of course, the vast majority of "classic" British authors didn't get a mention).


@Athensfan: "In order to be "deep" something should reveal profound universal meaning and insight. I didn't see that in London's OC at all."

So you didn't see the whole growing to maturity / "Inspire a Generation" theme, which is a pretty basic universal meaning? And you presumably weren't interested in the big "there are alternatives" message to China.


@baron-pierreIV: "Peter Ueberroth who, in a way, is partially responsible for setting the scale of Olympic (opening) ceremonies the way they are today, said: A good Opening sets the tone for the Olympic Games that will follow."

Well, if TV audiences in Canada are anything to go by, the tone was pretty positive!

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The best works of art work on different levels (is anyone suggesting that 'Hamlet' is simply the story of a son who murders his father?) and some people on here are now criticising the Opening Ceremony for absurd reasons.

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The best works of art work on different levels (is anyone suggesting that 'Hamlet' is simply the story of a son who murders his father?) and some people on here are now criticising the Opening Ceremony for absurd reasons.

Hamlet? You mean "Lion King," doncha? I mean this Hamlet was based on LION KING, was it not? :lol:

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Mark, I totally agree with your defense of Zhang Yimou. The ceremonies required him to stretch in new ways.

However, I see nothing profound or deep about London's OC. I didn't find the torch lighting particularly moving or meaningful. I felt like the organizers were afraid to make a choice and played it safe in the name of equanimity. It was ok, but it wasn't profound.

Frankly, I don't think most OCs are particularly deep. Spectacular, yes. Emotional? Some more than others. But not especially deep.

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Mark, I totally agree with your defense of Zhang Yimou. The ceremonies required him to stretch in new ways.

However, I see nothing profound or deep about London's OC. I didn't find the torch lighting particularly moving or meaningful. I felt like the organizers were afraid to make a choice and played it safe in the name of equanimity. It was ok, but it wasn't profound.

Frankly, I don't think most OCs are particularly deep. Spectacular, yes. Emotional? Some more than others. But not especially deep.

there are two points that makes the lighting profound and meaningful. (1) that the cauldron was made up of 204 petals representing nation participating in these games.setting as side political, cultural and territorial disputes to come together for two week. which in my opinion, the only event that can do that. (2) that the cauldron was not light be some token athlete who was give the honor because he/she was famous in one way or the another or has won the most medals. but, in keep with the london 2012 motto 'inspire a generation' , gave the honor to young people who were nominated by past Olympians. literally 'passing the torch' to the next generation.

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Frankly, I don't think most OCs are particularly deep. Spectacular, yes. Emotional? Some more than others. But not especially deep.

Agree with this, They are just stadium spectaculars. If people want to read more into them, that's they're prerogative. But I think emotion is more important than trying top make them some sort of thesis.

there are two points that makes the lighting profound and meaningful. (1) that the cauldron was made up of 204 petals representing nation participating in these games.setting as side political, cultural and territorial disputes to come together for two week. which in my opinion, the only event that can do that. (2) that the cauldron was not light be some token athlete who was give the honor because he/she was famous in one way or the another or has won the most medals. but, in keep with the london 2012 motto 'inspire a generation' , gave the honor to young people who were nominated by past Olympians. literally 'passing the torch' to the next generation.

And I agree with this. While the actual lighting wasn't up to the spectacle of, say, Barcelona's or Sydney's, the rest I loved. The Cauldron itself, the symbolism of the petals and I thought, as you did, the choosing of the young people was very symbolic and fitting in with London's desire to be the youth games. I sure don't think it needs to be a "Name" to be the cauldron lighter.

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there are two points that makes the lighting profound and meaningful. (1) that the cauldron was made up of 204 petals representing nation participating in these games.setting as side political, cultural and territorial disputes to come together for two week. which in my opinion, the only event that can do that. (2) that the cauldron was not light be some token athlete who was give the honor because he/she was famous in one way or the another or has won the most medals. but, in keep with the london 2012 motto 'inspire a generation' , gave the honor to young people who were nominated by past Olympians. literally 'passing the torch' to the next generation.

Illustrado, I'm not sure about the purpose of your post. I am aware of the 204 petals, I'm aware of the symbolism of the youth and the introduction of the gaggle of medal winners. All this was very clear from the moment it happened. NBC explained just fine and countless Brits have reiterated it on these boards. I still didn't find it particularly profound or "deep". It was a different approach. It was fine, I suppose, but not profound. I personally found it unaffecting. I would've been disappointed if American Games had taken that approach.

Incidentally, I was not particularly excited about Muhammad Ali in Atlanta either. I know some people found it quite emotional, but I wasn't among them. Partly because the mechanism failed, partly because the frybox was ugly, partly because I've never been a fan of Ali. I found his hubris a turn-off.

The only reason I say that is to make it clear that I'm not just picking on London for the heck of it.

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Illustrado, I'm not sure about the purpose of your post. I am aware of the 204 petals, I'm aware of the symbolism of the youth and the introduction of the gaggle of medal winners. All this was very clear from the moment it happened. NBC explained just fine and countless Brits have reiterated it on these boards. I still didn't find it particularly profound or "deep". It was a different approach. It was fine, I suppose, but not profound. I personally found it unaffecting. I would've been disappointed if American Games had taken that approach.

Incidentally, I was not particularly excited about Muhammad Ali in Atlanta either. I know some people found it quite emotional, but I wasn't among them. Partly because the mechanism failed, partly because the frybox was ugly, partly because I've never been a fan of Ali. I found his hubris a turn-off.

The only reason I say that is to make it clear that I'm not just picking on London for the heck of it.

well i can't help with your emotional experiences about these lighting ceremonies. but i do agree with you that Atlanta's cauldron. that was a fugly thing that still can be seen in Atlanta skyline .

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It’s a really cool city.

That cauldron base is pretty neat up close, nice and big and
it’s placed over the end of a long street that is lined with all kind of cool
light posts and decorative spires, there are also giant sort of cauldron like
bowls lining the street that are on brick pedestals that have all kinds of
commemorative plaques and info about the games. When you drive down the street
you see the cauldron and structure in the distance at the end of the road and
the structure walkway actually goes over the road and the giant gold rings are
centered above the road. SO it’s a pretty grand set up and fun to drive and
see: it’s exciting.


I do wish that red cauldron thing had been done differently; they did have an AMAZING torch however!!

I'm like turning into the Atlanta PR person.

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Paul, I haven't been to Atlanta, but I suspect the city has continued to blossom after the Games. The PR during the Games was very negative. In other words, I have a feeling that present day Atlanta is not indicative of the quality of the 1996 Games.

WRONG!! The much-maligned Centennial Games by very negative people like yourself Athens, including your constant digging at Reno, still worked to Atlanta's benefit. Sooooooo toxic!!

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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@Athensfan: "NBC"

OK, so you watched the London Opening on NBC. Yes, they did explain the handover to young athletes perfectly well, but try comparing their handling of the actual flame lighting with my preferred commentator, Barry Davies on the official OBS feed:

[VISUAL]: The young athletes turn off the running track towards the heart of the stadium
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Most elements of the music fade away, leaving a repeated falling six-note sequence dominated by synth strings (first heard, I think, at the end of the "poppy pause" in the Industrial Era segment, and meant to suggest the similar sequence of notes rung on church bells for celebrations).
[Davies OBS COMMENTARY]: "I should tell you that when the competing delegations arrived in London, they each received a copper petal, we saw them being carried around during the Parade. Those petals are inscribed with the name of their country and the words 'XXX Olympiad, London 2012' "

[VISUAL]: The youngsters reach the open area containing the cauldron
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Over the continuing six-note sequence, the great Olympic Bell chimes once
[COMMENTARY]: [after the bell] "They will now have a part to play, as the bell, the Olympic Bell, rings out."

[VISUAL]: The youngsters arrive at the cauldron, and turn to display their torches
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The synth strings fade, and we hear the same six-note sequence played repeatedly on actual, very small bells
[COMMENTARY]: NONE

[VISUAL]: The youngsters lower their torches to their chosen individual petals on the cauldron
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Still the six-note sequence dominated by small bells
[COMMENTARY]: NONE

[VISUAL]: The seven petals catch fire, and the flames begin to race around the outermost of the five concentric rings
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Still the six-note sequence dominated by small bells, but getting quieter. Just after the flames start their race, there are some whistles and applause from the audience. Shortly after the first ring is completely lit, the Olympic Bell rings again.
[COMMENTARY]: "Well those copper petals are now alive, and are the cauldron of the London [bell rings at this point, Davies pauses a beat] 2012 Games. [longer pause] In a very different way, fire, has brought life, to the games."

[VISUAL]: The rings are fully lit, and then the petals begin to rise
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The six-note sequence fades away, the audience applauds and cheers as the petals start to rise, and a soprano voice starts singing a slow, wordless, rising tune (which had earlier been part of the backing to the main "Caliban's Dream" song)
[COMMENTARY]: NONE

[VISUAL]: The rise of the petals finishes, and the flame is turned up, so brightly that it threatens to leave a permanent mark on the image tubes of some audience video-cameras.
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The soprano tune ends on a falling note, sustained and fading away. As the flame is then turned up, the audience applauds and cheers.
[COMMENTARY]: [over the audience cheers] "A very spectacular sight in the end."

[VISUAL]: Various shots of the cauldron, the flame from below, etc.
[sTADIUM SOUND]: A long, low, synth note, building in intensity, joined by a sputter of fireworks in the background
[COMMENTARY]: NONE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei54TO1VBlM

Davies spoke a total of 95 words, by my word-processor's reckoning. Now here's the Matt Lauer and Bob Costas version:

[VISUAL]: The young athletes turn off the running track towards the heart of the stadium
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Most elements of the music fade away, leaving a repeated falling six-note sequence dominated by synth strings.
[NBC COMMENTARY (Lauer)]: "Now these young athletes will move to the centre of the stadium, passing through the heart of the athletes gathered from all two hundred and four nations."

[VISUAL]: The youngsters reach the open area containing the cauldron
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Over the continuing six-note sequence, the great Olympic Bell chimes once
[COMMENTARY]: NONE

[VISUAL]: The youngsters arrive at the cauldron, and turn to display their torches
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The synth strings fade, and we hear the same six-note sequence played repeatedly on actual, very small bells
[COMMENTARY (Lauer)]: "Copper leaves we talked about that were brought in with each delegation, and were placed, at the center of the stadium; [pause] now, in that array, will play a prominent role here."

[VISUAL]: The youngsters lower their torches to their chosen individual petals on the cauldron
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Still the six-note sequence dominated by small bells
[COMMENTARY (Costas)]: "Each of the seven igniting a single flame within one of the copper petals."

[VISUAL]: The seven petals catch fire, and the flames begin to race around the outermost of the five concentric rings
[sTADIUM SOUND]: Still the six-note sequence dominated by small bells, but getting quieter. Just after the flames start their race, there are some whistles and applause from the audience. Shortly after the first ring is completely lit, the Olympic Bell rings again.
[COMMENTARY (Costas)]: "And that will shortly trigger the ignition of more than two hundred of them."

[VISUAL]: The rings are fully lit, and then the petals begin to rise
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The six-note sequence fades away, the audience applauds and cheers as the petals start to rise, and a soprano voice starts singing a slow, wordless, rising tune (which had earlier been part of the backing to the main "Caliban's Dream" song)
[COMMENTARY (Lauer)]: "Bob, in cities in the past, the Olympic Cauldron has been placed high atop the stadium, [(Costas responds) "Mh-hmh"] so that it was visible in the surrounding area; and unless something dramatic happens and this, does a lotta rising, this will be, near the floor of the stadium."

[VISUAL]: The rise of the petals finishes, and the flame is turned up, so brightly that it threatens to leave a permanent mark on the image tubes of some audience video-cameras.
[sTADIUM SOUND]: The soprano tune ends on a falling note, sustained and fading away. As the flame is then turned up, the audience applauds and cheers.
[COMMENTARY (Lauer)]: "And those two hundred copper leaves now form, the Olympic Cauldron."

[VISUAL]: The cauldron, gradually zooming out to show some of the surrounding mass of athletes, with a brief cutaway to a close-up of some female members of Team USA
[sTADIUM SOUND]: A long, low, synth note, building in intensity, joined by a sputter of fireworks in the background
[COMMENTARY (Lauer)]: "Tears in the eyes of some of the athletes"



Total, 151 words, plus one "Mh-hmh". They mentioned copper objects (leaves to Matt, petals to Bob) three times, and the number two hundred, three times (plus, of course, all the times earlier in the evening when they had stated how many nations were taking part). Matt thought the climax of the ceremony (rather than the post-show discussion) an appropriate point to raise the question of the cauldron's location. Note also that, apart from the number, the copper, and the 45-word cauldron-site comment, nearly all the NBC commentary is actually just describing what can be seen on screen (by the way, the BBC commentary, which had become increasingly garrulous in the later stages of the evening, at this point seemed to waste dozens of words telling us what we were supposed to be feeling).

Davies, on the other hand, spends 44 of his 95 words explaining the petals and their inscriptions (providing what I believe broadcasters like to call "context"); then reminds us about the Olympic Bell (the fairly frequent use of which, throughout the evening, most American contributors to this discussion seem to have missed), then rather than simply describe what is happening- or telling us what to feel, à la BBC- as the cauldron is lit, he provides an almost poetic summary of the moment.
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At all these moments in the climax of the lighting sequence
you will here the audience reaction as a slow gathering of applause and
moderate cheering, as though they were unsure or not moved enough to cheer like
past lightings. THAT is VERY odd for a cauldron lighting and I felt the same.
It was NOT an exciting lighting.


6:53

7:28

9:28


Stop blaming NBC for the show, take some responsibility.

Stand up and say you loved it and why but STOP acting like we didn’t see the
show! We got it all. We didn’t love it.

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I agree that the cauldron could have been spectacular, the
multiple head idea and coming together had HIGH potential, and unfortunately it
just fell flat. As a creative professional it is particularly disappointing me when

opportunities such as this are not fully realized. I blame the designer and the director. And
I still feel something went horribly wrong in the cauldrons design process that
resulted in the fixture they ended up with, parts of it looked more like a
prototype than a final version.

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Mark, obviously this is extremely important to you. The truth is, I think you've really list objectivity here. It's not my job to run around and find the best broadcast I can for each moment of the Games. NBC was just fine. You seem to feel that the choice of words and camera angles can change a moment that gets a C into a moment that gets an A+. To me, that's total nonsense. I work in a field where events are covered by tv. Some networks coverage is better than others, but it does NOT totally transform content the way that you suggest. A C can become a C- or a C+, but not an A+.

London's cauldron lighting was very ho-hum for me. It was fine, but not wonderful. And it had nothing to do with NBC.

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