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A Beautiful Opening Ceremony


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On the positive side...

First of all, congratulations to Vancouver for having the courage to budget one tenth of what Beijing spent. I mean that sincerely. I have great respect for commitment to quality on a budget.

I liked the quick video homage to the previous hosts following the countdown and the snowboarder was fun if not quite as spectacular as some other ceremonies' introductions of the Olympic rings.

I thought the poem was the best part of the "entertainment." Well written. Well delivered. Surprisingly potent. I like the way the entertainment segment concluded in modern-day Vancouver with a well-articulated vision of modern-day Canada.

The projections were a beautiful, relatively low cost means of radically transforming the space and making strong visual statements. The whales were extremely effective on tv.

Enjoyed the snow.

On the negative side...

The first nations introductions in the beginning seemed prolonged and a little bit dull. The ice sculpture greetings left me totally cold.

The entertainment section was very poorly conceived. I'm not at all impressed by Mr. Atkins. Unlike Beijing, this ceremony did not follow a clear progression of thought. It seemed like a very loose collage of vaguely interesting impressions. Content does not cost money. It just requires time and forethought. In my opinion, that careful planning was obviously missing. Instead, there was a mishmash of seasons and geography. I thought the autumn section was by far the weakest. The floating canoe, the tapping, the maple leaves. Nothing seemed to hold these disparate elements together. The prairie squares that followed were visually odd as well. The sloppy superficiality of the bulk of the entertainment paled miserably in comparison to the strength of the concluding poem.

Cauldron delays and malfunctions have already been noted by others. Agree w/ the statement that Atkins is 0 for 2. Really not impressed. Very, very sorry for Vancouver. A noticeable embarrassment. Even if the cauldron had worked perfectly, it was strange. Especially w/ the secondary, outdoor cauldron.

The sound seemed very questionable -- even on tv.

Much of the filler music was rather bland and unimaginative.

I got the strong feeling that the ceremony was much more effective on tv than in person. One significant failing seemed to be the scale. The ceremony often seemed to rely on a single individual or a small number of performers. I can't imagine that this read very well inside BC Place.

In summary....

I think the ceremonies fall somewhere between a B- and a C+. This ceremony is just further evidence that the type of product delivered by Atkins and the "turn-key" collage approach to ceremonies will never achieve more than semi-slick mediocrity. It will never deliver a distinctive yet unified artistic vision. It will never communicate with real power. In my opinion, the greatest success of Beijing was the strength and integrity of the concept. Vancouver did not follow suit. I hope future hosts will take note.

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BC Place isn't known for its sound quality. But I have a theory...because it came before the cultural part, the parade being so early made me wonder if that was it. And because of that people may not

Actually,,.for the RECORD...David Atkins and Vancouver 2010 copied MY m.O. of dedicating the whole or parts of my book to specific individuals. In my book... the whole book -- dedicated to my mother

Oh, Atkins had enough funds AND time to develop the Ceremonies. The $50 mil and 3 years' lead time is PLENTY. X, LA-1984 had only $8-10 million to work with and David Wolper's unit only took over 11

LOL _ I have to "admit" that I was a little bit shocked - I hope she isn't seriously ill - her face looked tumid...

Nah, she just gained some weight since the Calgary Opening Ceremonies... and I think she morphed into Elvis Presley. :o:rolleyes:

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@ kendegra,

would you mind to say something about the acoustic in BCPlace - the sound was just awful on TV for most of it and you got the impression that the audience wasn't really supportive when the nations entered the stadium (esp. at non-commonwealth games it was nearly dead silent (except the USA))

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well, it was OK...the best that Atkins & team could do considering the indoor circumstances but...

First Nations - well, Salt Lake had 5; so where do we go in our turn? Let's do 4. Salt Lake's 5 Nations' welcome was so much better and more dramatic...with the live flying eagle even. Tonight's First Nations costumes looked so new...like they were all sewn last night!! And Salt Lake used old & young native Americans. Vancouver trotted out the young healthy studs & studettes...and of course, there was reason. They had to do aerobix for a good1 hour plus!! :blink:

It took so long for the evening's proceedings to make the point -- the vast land of Canada; and by the time it got to the West Coast, it was yawnnnnnnnnn!!

There were moments of sheer magic...like the Tomas what's-name flying over the projected fields...much more versatile than Nikki Webster or the main on the box in Athens. But for all its stagecraft, what did it have to do with the Winter Games??

The Grunge part? What was that part for? Birch did it better and bigger in Sydney!!

Furlong's speech...like the wait for the 4th missing spoke of the cauldron...interminable!!

My overall impression: don't get too defensive, Canadians. You have nothing to apologize for. And that poem...while nice, I found it very apologetic and almsot self-flagellatory. What for? The problem which you will never be able to really overcome is that you sadly happen to be in the shadow of a giant neighbor. And that's a situation you cannot change!

The cauldron is actually very ungainly...just a huge glob of nothing.

If I were London, I would think twice about hiring Atkins & Co. Let's hope Closing will be better (and that the Russians don't upstage the night).

P.S. I didn't count 94 camera angles. If so, the juice required by the 94 cameras must've sucked the juice for the trapdoor of the 4th spoke of the cauldron.

Verdict: better than Calgary, but just an B+ for me. (I think Salt Lake still ranks #1 for the Winters.)

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Baron would you say it surpassed Torino?

I thought it was more controlled than Torino. I thought Torino was all over the place. Tonight's was less, therefore in comparison to Torino, gave 'more'...but for me, the message and delivery were a little off. How can I say it...it's like Atkins & co. were trying too hard NOT to appear as trying too hard to beat Beijing or Torino...and in doing so, came up short.

(P.S. the West Coast coveragee I got in the Bay Area was a little truncated thanks to NBC. Like from the moment the VIPs entered, all of a sudden the 4 ice golem were already up. And also, after the athletes were all seated, it took a loooooooooooooooooong time for the father Winter character and all the newly arrived immigrants to get going with their part.

And also, the Sarah MacLachan portion...that was so ho..hum. You know you've seen it done before with different lighting and a different background.

And where was Celine? Alex Trebek? Christopher Plummer? Michael J. Fox? Buble? The Dionne quintuplets...why weren't they there?

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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BC Place isn't known for its sound quality. But I have a theory...because it came before the cultural part, the parade being so early made me wonder if that was it. And because of that people may not have been pumped up as much. The cultural part seems to build up some of the emotion before the parade.

Also, the audience was predominately Canadian. The Americans were next in size. Loud cheers went up for Georgia. I liked how the Germans held back and walked slowly to let them have their moment. Very respectful. The Jamaicans got big cheers. And cheers went up for many of the bigger teams - Norway, Sweden, Netherlands - or the ones with a historic ties or large immigrant population in Canada - France, Italy, China, Pakistan, India.

It was my first in-person ceremony and it was in my backyard, so I mostly focussed on absorbing the entire moment.

And the comparisons to Beijing? Well, Canada isn't China. We are not a nation of a billion where volunteers are willing to dedicate 3 years of their life to a few minutes in a segment in a ceremony. We are a nation of individuals. Each with our own dreams, pursuits and interests. We are also not an ancient nation. I think that was reflected in tonight's ceremony, especially in the parts were there were only a few people or only a sole person in it. It is a big, vast, young, diverse country with a small population. Putting 10,000 people on the stage would have been a misrepresentation.

Anyway, I'm happy with what I saw. It connected with me. I'm sorry it didn't for others. Oh, wait. That's the old Canadian attitude. OK then...f**% you. I'm happy. :P

Edited by Kendegra
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Anyway, I'm happy with what I saw. It connected with me. I'm sorry it didn't for others. Oh, wait. That's the old Canadian attitude. OK then...f**% you. I'm happy. :P

Well, the roof didn't cave-in/blow-up so it was all good ;) . But it has you wondering, how would the ceremonies be if BC Place had the retractable roof already.

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They would have been wet and cold. Or the roof would have been closed. It started raining hard before I got into the stadium. And I had to wait over 2 hours to get in...got to my seat with 15 mins to spare!

Wow! Two hours? Long lines + harsh security check or anything like that? I remember when I went to the Pan Am Opening in Rio and they opened the stadium 3 hours before the show began so that the crowds could be choreographed. And the sun was frying out heads! XD

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I really wish Atkins would have dove more into the history and colonization of Canada. Another problem i noticed watching it a second time is it seems very fake. Some of the natives had neon clothing? :blink:

The part with the Celtic dancing made no seance to me, I didn't know if they where trying to reenact braveheart or what but it became very hard to watch after awhile.

Then after the disaster with the cauldron they whisked Gretzky into some random pickup truck and drove him threw the streets in the poring rain like it was some kind of county fair.

Anyway to rap things up I felt it was directed badly and Vancouver has ended up with a poor forgettable ceremony which will go the way of Nagano.

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thanks very much for your answer, kendegra,

that was very informative - you mention Bejing - well Bejing was just spectacular, but that doesn't mean that I like it more than other ceremonies - I even think the segment which I liked most in Bejing were this less spectacular segment:

oly22.jpg

I think that Vancouver saw a beautiful poetic Opening Ceremony, but I am not sure if we will remember a lot of the OC in 8/12 years - of course that will be definitely different in Canada.

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The cauldron thing would have worked better if they made the lightings almost simultaneous? At least there wouldn't be the awkward "let's wait till he gets there!" moment with all the Vancouver skyline images...

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Oh, another magical moment which came early in the show and which my guests and I agreed upon was quite beautiful was...at the end of the filmed snowboarding sequence (recalling all the past Winter Games hosts), at the base of the mountain...and this again was reminiscent of the filmed face-off in Athens between the live drummer and his counterpart in old Olympia...when skiers forming the maple leaf lit their torches as the guy snoboarded past them. That was quelle supreme!!

Also, the guy in the footage...who I predicted would finish his jump inside BC Place over those rings...was this the same guy who got hurt in the rehearsal? So he got well enough to do the job again tonight?

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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In Germany, Gretzky's way to the outdoor cauldron wasn't even broadcast -- they preferred to start their ceremony analysis already. They only quickly cut to the outdoor cauldron when Gretzky was ready to light it. So the anti-climatic character of that segment was even emphasised by the poor German direction.

I have a question for Kendegra and Baron: How did you both react when the indoor cauldron got stuck?

I was getting hysterical about that at first, because I immediately remembered the story from your book, Baron, about the emergency scenario for the LA 1984 cauldron (I don't know whether I'm allowed to tell that story here)... The scenario that they would be no cauldron lighting at all scared me to death. ;)

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