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The Best Opening Ceremonies


olympikfan

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R u talking about the placard bearers? The last time national costumes were worn was in Lillehammer when the placard bearers were a combination of men and women (and sometimes children, in combinations of 2 or 3) marching in front of the national flags, in their Norwegian traditional costumes.

Atlanta was also the FIRST (known) time in Summer Games history that the placard bearers were both adult men and women -- again, to reflect the equal and egalitarian nature of the U.S. Previously, it was either ALL men or ALL women, not a mix of both.

Except for the Iranians who insisted that a man carry their placard in 1988 and 1992. Yet come 1996 they actually let a woman carry their flag.

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Except for the Iranians who insisted that a man carry their placard in 1988 and 1992. Yet come 1996 they actually let a woman carry their flag.

I hope one day all there will be an all-transgender Parade of Nations: all ex-women (so, now men) as Placard-bearers; and then ex-men (so now women) as the Flag-bearers! :lol:

Another record for the Olympics before the Gay Games gets them!! :lol:

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Seoul ceremonies were in the morning I think that was the last time they were held in the day. (Korea land of the morning clam)

Yeah there's something nostalgic about those daytime ceremonies, it reminds me of a simpler time when the OC relied less on technology and more on spirit.

Seoul was also the last time (for me at least) when the theme of peace was relevant and synonymous with the Games. Not only did Seoul follow the boycotts of 1980 and 1984, but it was also the last time we had nations divided along major ideological lines.

The 1988 OC looks outdated today, and there have been better spectacles than Seoul since 1988, but for nostalgic and historical reasons (not to mention biased reasons), I think Seoul is right up there for memorable opening ceremonies.

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Well, the reason the Ceremonies have moved to night-time is that it allows for more drama for the cauldron-lighting and the fireworks. In darkness, they are able to create more magic (i.e., hide a lot of cables, etc.) and the theatrical lighting affords more drama, color and excitement. Daylight ceremonies are for poor countries who do not have sufficient power to stage the nighttime shows. ;)

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Pick one?

Well, first off, my credentials - I don't have the experience of some, my record only goes back to the 1984 SOG in LA, but I've seen all the ceremonies since and they ALL have pros and cons.

If you held a gun to my head and made me pick one... this may shock a lot of people, but I'd say Atlanta. Yeah, I know, the pick up trucks and version 1 of 10 billion of Georgia On My Mind, plus the oddly esoteric version of the South? Eh, not so good. But the drums for Summon the Heroes? The tribute to the Ancient Games? The remarkable entrance for the Parade of Nations? And basically a solid run from the Olympic Anthem all the way through to the Power of the Dream? It's Atlanta, with room to spare over the runner up which is probably Sydney or Lillehammer, depending on the day.

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Pick one?

Well, first off, my credentials - I don't have the experience of some, my record only goes back to the 1984 SOG in LA, but I've seen all the ceremonies since and they ALL have pros and cons.

If you held a gun to my head and made me pick one... this may shock a lot of people, but I'd say Atlanta. Yeah, I know, the pick up trucks and version 1 of 10 billion of Georgia On My Mind, plus the oddly esoteric version of the South? Eh, not so good. But the drums for Summon the Heroes? The tribute to the Ancient Games? The remarkable entrance for the Parade of Nations? And basically a solid run from the Olympic Anthem all the way through to the Power of the Dream? It's Atlanta, with room to spare over the runner up which is probably Sydney or Lillehammer, depending on the day.

Am glad you liked Atlanta. Atlanta was hard to do. Aside from the obvious, the Civil War, GONE WITH THE WIND, Coke, etc., what else can you associate with Hotlanta? So, it was a 2-year project to put that show together but the tribute to ancient Greece and the Opening SUMMON THE HEROES was pure genius. I also very much liked the SUMMERTIME IN THE SOUTH segment. I mean that was the show-time extravaganza of the evening!!

(Fuller story in Chapter 4 of my book!) Really, the ONLY negative for me was the choice of Ali as the final lighter. I mean, why pick a sick has-been?? The pick-up trux really didn't bother me. It was an honest depiction of the South, the host region.

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Beijing was jaw-droppingly magnificent. There's no denying it. Still, I felt like those ceremonies tried too hard to overpower. That obvious aim marred the overall atmosphere for me - despite the undeniable beauty. My personal favorites are LA, Barcelona and Athens.

I like LA for sentimental reasons. The music was awesome and included the original Olympic fanfare. The Music of America program showcased culture and history in a warm, accessible way.

Barcelona was groundbreaking and formed the model for present day ceremonies. The blue carpet, music and expressionistic design elevated the ceremonies to the status of art. The lighting of the torch will never be equalled.

Athens ceremonies were incredibly artful and beautifully designed. The water was magnificent as were the flaming rings. They did an amazing job of encapsulating the richness of Greek culture.

I loathed Atlanta. The "spirits" of the Olympics. The bizarre hydra representing the Civil War. The trucks and hot pink cheerleaders. Georgia on my mind. The mafunctioning weirdo cauldron. Total embarrassment -especially following Barcelona's elegant sophistication. The only redeeming elements for me were John Williams andSummertime.

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My personal favorite has to be Athens. It was stunningly beautiful, refreshingly creative, perfectly paced and moving rather than ostentatious.

Sucker. Fell for Athens' cheap tricks. Pretentious, itinerant, all-over-the-place Ceremony. BORING, unimaginative Kelpsydra--like watching paint dry.

Trying to be different but was actually a LOST soul. Bizarre and misguided. Thank Zeus I didn't pay any drachmas to see that show.

...as were the flaming rings.

Couldn't even be original. 'Been there/done that' with Los Angeles 1984 and Salt Lake 2002.

It not only stole the Flaming rings from TWO earlier Olympics (Papaioannou was actually in attendance in Salt Lake for the 2002 Opening); but he/it RIPPED off the whole lake and Klepsydra ideas from the Vegas show "O!" at the Bellagio and the Iranian Shah's 2,500th anniversary show of the Persian empire at Persepolis 1971. How original could such a show be? :blink:

Was not going to mention that in the 2012 edition of my book...but seeing that no proper credit was given to those sources, the mention will stay in the book. :angry:

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Baron you have problems with your aesthetics. Athens ceremony was pure art. Btw Atlanta is considered by the vast majority worldwide as the "worst", simply because it looked like a circus, clearly a kitsch ceremony. Not everyone in this world likes tacky, cheap hollywood type shows.

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To be fair to Atlanta, it had a hard brief. Not only did the ceremony have to reference the centenary and thus connect to 'ancient' culture, it also had to embrace the host city. And Atlanta is really a second-tier American city after the likes of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago etc, so is hard to portray in a sense.

I thought the cauldron lighting was a bit unprofessional looking -- it lacked the elegance of Barcelona but I think the organisers were hoping for the 'Ali factor' to bring the 'wow' factor.

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Personally I really liked Atlanta, id say out of all the Olympic ceremonies it had the most playful spirit, it was fun, the segments were interesting and besides the pick up truck thing (That segment had good music I thought) It wasn't a bad ceremony.

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Baron you have problems with your aesthetics. Athens ceremony was pure art. Btw Atlanta is considered by the vast majority worldwide as the "worst", simply because it looked like a circus, clearly a kitsch ceremony. Not everyone in this world likes tacky, cheap hollywood type shows.

Please DON't MAKE ME LAUGH!!

No, LOUIS - YOU have a problem with your aesthtics. Atlanta ceremony was pure art. Btw Athens is considered by the vast majority worldwide as the "worst", simply because it looked like a circus, clearly a kitsch ceremony. Not everyone in this world likes tacky, cheap hollywood type shows. :lol::lol:

Athens was BALONEY! Wait...cheap souvlaki!! :lol:

Personally I really liked Atlanta, id say out of all the Olympic ceremonies it had the most playful spirit, it was fun, the segments were interesting and besides the pick up truck thing (That segment had good music I thought) It wasn't a bad ceremony.

ABSOLUTELY!! Great taste, MAX!! :)

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Athens 2004 OC is my fav

Best countdown

1. Beijing

2. Athens

3. Barcelona

Best "welcome"

1. Athens (From ancient to the present comet)

2. Barcelona (Hola)

3. Atlanta (Samaranch invitation and call to the nations)

Best olympic ring formation

1. Beijing (led lights)

2. Athens (Fire)

4. Atlanta (Dancers wearing carnival fantasy)

Best artistic part

1. Athens - Cycladic head(Totally surreal)

2. Atlanta - Ancient tribute for ancient games

3. Beijing - Scrolling paper from Beijing

Best protocols (President's entance, flags and anthems)

1. Athens

2. Barcelona

3. Atlanta

Best caudron lightning

1. Barcelona

2. Athens

3. Moscow

Best light design and projections effects

1. Athens

2. Beijing

3. Sydney

Best fanfares

1. Barcelona (Fafarra Jurament my favorite)

2. Sydney (James Morrison Jazz Band favorite)

3. Athens (Julian Scott made incredible work)

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It's amazing to me that someone would give me negative reputation points just because they have different taste in ceremonies. No room for a difference of opinion, eh? Seems very petty and mean-spirited.

The only time I can see negative reputation points at all is when someone is being antagonistic and inflammatory. Personally, I find that the "ignore" feature is all I need.

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I've watched every one since Lake Placid 1980 (with the exception of Moscow). Just a synopsis of my personal highlights of each.

Lake Placid--very simplistic, but not bad

Sarajevo--same as Lake Placid, except ABC cut it to shreds and I might have missed something

Los Angeles--spectacular (and I had to watch it on a black and white TV), the 84 Grand Pianos, The Olympian by Philip Glass accompanying the lighting of the cauldron, the interesting two person placards during the parade of nations. Just a great show that made you forget that the Soviets and East Germans were absent.

Calgary--nice, down-home ceremony. The birthday salute to Australia, the dancing dinosaurs.

Seoul--liked the use of teachers and students to light the cauldron (or the pigeon barbecue), wonderful display of Korean culture. Great ceremony.

Albertville--very bizarre, but I loved the bubble girls.

Barcelona---almost perfect, all the memorable musical pieces, the fashion show, the sardana and castellets (Spelling ?), and of course that magical flaming arrow.

Lillehammer--most perfect setting with the snow flurries throughout, the kids introducing the countries, the opening with the skydivers and the Norwegian flag and all the charm of the display of native culture.

Atlanta--again, not as bad as people make it out to be. Very upbeat, the salute to the ancient games, Summon the Heroes, my only disappointment is that the parade of athletes wasn't executed better.

Nagano--elegant and simple, loved the cauldron. Very tastefully done.

Sydney--Another magnificent spectacle. right on par with Barcelona and for many of the same reasons. The music and the manner in which the torch was lit and many of the artistic segments were superb.

Salt Lake--A wonderful emotional balm to sooth our national wounds, Loved the segment where the two trains approached from each side of the stadium to meet as the two railroads did at Promontory Summit. Liked the cauldron too with the clear glass allowing you to see the liquid flowing inside it.

Athens--Not what I was expecting, but a good show, the piece with the pregnant women was interesting. I understood what they were trying to get across, but that is something I never expected to see in an Olympic OC. Didn't like the use of three women as the PA announcers, I prefer a combination of male and female voices.

Torino--I love disco, so this one really hit all my right notes. Loved the ski jumper segment, the Ferrari, and the caldron lighting (I don't care if the flame never touched the cauldron, it was neat to watch anyway).

Beijing--Overwhelming, but in a good way. Hated the soundtrack to the parade (Bagpipes, really?). Loved the nautical segment among the many memorable parts of the show.

Vancouver--Was curious to see how it would be done in a dome, came out very nice. Enjoyed the salute to the First Nations. Really liked the opening with the snowboarder.

Again that is just my two cents worth. Could have gone into more detail, but am pressed for time. Maybe later.

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Los Angeles--spectacular (and I had to watch it on a black and white TV), the 84 Grand Pianos, The Olympian by Philip Glass accompanying the lighting of the cauldron, the interesting two person placards during the parade of nations. Just a great show that made you forget that the Soviets and East Germans were absent.

Beijing--Overwhelming, but in a good way. Hated the soundtrack to the parade (Bagpipes, really?). Loved the nautical segment among the many memorable parts of the show.

totally agree with you about LA. And yes, the nautical segment was amazing with all the oars. The whale projections were stunning too. Really that whole ceremony was a feast for the senses.

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inToronto and Oaky: Its Cape Breton culture, not Newfoundland. Fiddling and that traditional music is from the island which has a strong Celtic/folk tradition that dates back centuries. Its not accidental that Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.

The Prairie section was a little out-there, especially to those that have not read the book the segment was based on (Who has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell) which is primarily about a boys struggle to understand the existence of G-d, the nature of G-d and the struggle to understand yourself, define yourself and to build an identity. The latter being the message from the section, its about the wonder of discovery and the realities of understanding yourself or in this case ourselves as a nation. I was actually very surprised that an Australian could articulate that. The only think that made it a little less was the lack of Joni Mitchell performing live.

S

In the end, Vancouver's ceremony had issues and it was not wholly statisfying, but it was also not embarassing. So that was always a plus.

I have actually re-watched Athens` recently and was incredibly surprised that I completely changed by reaction to it. I guess with age came taste. It has aged better then any ceremony.

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inToronto and Oaky: Its Cape Breton culture, not Newfoundland. Fiddling and that traditional music is from the island which has a strong Celtic/folk tradition that dates back centuries. Its not accidental that Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.

The Prairie section was a little out-there, especially to those that have not read the book the segment was based on (Who has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell) which is primarily about a boys struggle to understand the existence of G-d, the nature of G-d and the struggle to understand yourself, define yourself and to build an identity. The latter being the message from the section, its about the wonder of discovery and the realities of understanding yourself or in this case ourselves as a nation. I was actually very surprised that an Australian could articulate that. The only think that made it a little less was the lack of Joni Mitchell performing live.

S

In the end, Vancouver's ceremony had issues and it was not wholly statisfying, but it was also not embarassing. So that was always a plus.

I have actually re-watched Athens` recently and was incredibly surprised that I completely changed by reaction to it. I guess with age came taste. It has aged better then any ceremony.

I am just quoting the American announcers, they said that the producers were walking down St.Johns downtown and out of all the pubs came the fiddle music and they just had to put in the ceremonies.

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I am just quoting the American announcers, they said that the producers were walking down St.Johns downtown and out of all the pubs came the fiddle music and they just had to put in the ceremonies.

I think that it could be related to both Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia. But in reality, it did an awful job of representing either. If your going to do a segment on Atlantic Canada, why not show something about the ocean, I can think of 10 things that would have worked better and would have been more interesting than a bunch of satanic fiddle players running around on a cheesy maple leaf stage. *Cringes* The job of directing the ceremonies should have been given to a Canadian, a few years isn't nearly enough time to learn enough about this country to properly represent it in an Olympic ceremony.

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OK, since everybody else is pitching in with overall opinions:

Los Angeles 1984 - Well, they do say you never forget your first time. All kidding aside, the "card trick" prior to the Parade of Nations and Rafer Johnson lighting the cauldron stand out the most for me. Watching the flame creep through the rings is still an impressive visual.

Calgary 1988 - First winter games and honestly, aside from the lighting of the cauldron and the kids in blue recreating the pictographs and bobsled track on the stadium floor, my memories are unclear.

Seoul 1988 - You mean besides the dove BBQ? I remember most clearly the little boy with the hoop coming in and being told he was born on the day Seoul was awarded the Games. That and a "fight" between two "dragons" on the stadium floor.

Albertville 1992 - *sighs* I've said it many times, you have a serious problem artistically if the best part of your ceremony is the protocol portion. I wish CBS had not edited the flag raising as the levitation from over the athletes toward the top of the mast looked very cool. Other than that... ugh. No thanks.

Barcelona 1992 - I have fond memories of this one, from the creation of the heart on the stadium floor to open the show to the ship sequence, one of the most stunning and spine tingling flag entrances and raisings I can remember, the first time we had a tribute to past Olympic cities, Antonio Robello and his arrow to light the cauldron and, for me, the highlight: the Ode to Joy at the end. Looking back, Barcelona really wrote the textbook for how to do an Opening Ceremony.

Lillehammer 1994 - And here is textbook for the Winter Games. An introduction of culture, the Parade of Nations with each nation being welcomed in their home language, another great rendition of the Olympic hymn and entrance of the flame from the top of the ski jump. Very very good.

Atlanta 1996 - I've already spoken of Atlanta, but I will again. What they got right, they got VERY right - the Spirits of the Games set to Summon the Heroes, the tribute to the ancient Games, the Parade of Nations entering from on high, over the lip of the stadium verses at ground level. Then a long sequence of absolute perfection from a tribute to Martin Luther King to paying tribute to Olympic legends of the past to finally the entrance of the flame up through the floor and finally handed off to Ali. Sure, the lighting looked a bit clumsy, but in a way it worked - after what we had seen, you could almost FEEL the crowd willing the ball into the cauldron. And, for my money, the best Olympic song of them all, The Power of the Dream. Yes, Virginia, Atlanta is the best, IMHO.

Nagano 1998 - Well, I am not sure how Andrew Lloyd Webber's song When Children Rule The World fits the Olympics, but OK. I wonder if CBS's editing actually crippled the presentation as it started off so strong with the ringing of the bell at Zengoji, the creation of the entrances to the stadium floor and the final entrance of the torch. And what should have been the highlight was just... weird. The Ode to Joy was badly off set by having performers dancing around on the floor with the torch when they REALLY should have just let the rendition speak for itself - five continental choirs combined with the choir in Nagano is impressive, add to that that this was 1998 technology we were using and it becomes more impressive.

Sydney 2000 - This is another ceremony that I think was crippled by the editing, especially the artistic section from Undersea Dreaming on. NBC moving in and out of the segments and not presenting them in full made the whole thing feel oddly disjointed and gave it no flow, which is a darn shame because it looked spectacular. The good news is Sydney got saved by Heroes Live Forever, an emotional torch relay and, flawed though it was, one of the most visually stunning cauldron lightings I've ever seen. The image of the cauldron rising up around Cathy Freeman still makes my jaw hang a bit. Cheers, Sydney and well done.

Salt Lake City 2002 - I cannot watch and really even think about Salt Lake City without crying, largely because the ceremony triggered and played off of so many emotions. They got started early with one of the most vivid memories I have from any ceremony - the entrance of the World Trade Center flag. The ceremony ran on just pure emotion from then on. The artistic stuff, especially the Native Americans and mystical animals was very impressive, but for me, the whole ceremony was summed up in the final torch relay. It's special to me because, being an Olympics fan for, at that time, ten years but watching for longer, it was like the ghosts of stories I had both heard and seen for years were coming across my television screen, summed up so perfectly with a bunch of college kids who 22 years before managed to be the best in the world came back one more time to lift an injured nation from its knees and fittingly fulfill Bob Costas' opening lines: "The flame we light tonight is not the fires of destruction, but instead a light in the darkness."

Athens 2004 - Three words to this day still bring tears to my eyes as a history geek and Olympics fan - Welcome home, Olympics. The opening of the games with the drummers mimicing the human heartbeat, drummers in Athens and Olympia saluting each other, the timeline parade and the parade of past cities with one runner. I enjoyed the torch lighting too, but honestly, Contaras just HAD to go and ruin it, didn't he? With him out, they should have just moved Paduiladu up to the lighting position IMHO.

Torino 2006 - One word, one name, defined these ceremonies for me: Pavarati. Lip synching or not, seeing one of music's giants sing us off into the night is still one of my favorite Olympic moments. I also really enjoyed the visual aspects of the ceremony: the creation of the Rings at the entrance of the stadium, the dove of peace created out of human forms. Stuff like that, the organizers did very well.

Beijing 2008 - Spectacle. No other word for it. China knew how big this moment once and they took it by the throat for good or ill. Personally, I think they were trying a bit too hard to the point where the human spirit, the human soul so evident in past ceremonies got lost. That said, the movable type created by people and the final lap of the torch around the rim of the stadium to the magically appearing cauldron was impressive.

Vancouver 2010 - They opened strong and just kept rolling, which is amazing given the whole ceremony could have been ruined by the death of the Georgian slider hours before, but was handled so tastefully, the organizers should be commended. From the city relay leading to a snowboarder leaping into BC Place to the First Nations paving the way for the Parade of Nations, it just worked so well to open. The visuals of whales on the stadium floor with the music of Sarah MacLaughlin, the artistic was impressive to. Let's face it, the only time the ceremony had a hitch was, unfortunately, at the most crucial moment - the lighting of the cauldron. It didn't help having a close up on Wayne Grezky's face and he looks like he's about to soil himself that this just is not working. But ya know, I'll take a three armed cauldron in exchange for the rest of the evening and it was made up for at the Closing.

So... London... good luck living up to the legacy. As you can see, you got some MIGHTY big shoes to step into. My advice? Just be yourselves, let your heart and soul speak for you. Oh and maybe it's time to stop being TOO creative with cauldron lightings, eh?

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Schematics. Either way, Seoul not only set the world on fire but got some fresh meat for the Olympic Village cafeteria.

I think you mean 'semantics,' Matt. ;)

They hoped it would erase all that slander about Koreans eating dog and cat. After 1988, doves a la flambee became the national staple -- of the South at least. :lol:

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I'm sure I've done one of these here before, but what the hell, it's a topic that never gets old. Okay, here's my mini-reviews of the OCs I've seen. It's mostly the SOGs – can't remember seeing a WOG OC before Lillehammer, and even many since then my memories are only sketchy.

1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal

Well, I gotta admit, my memories of these are patchy at best _ ironically, my most vivid memory of Munich's OC is the Mexican dancers handing over the flag from 1968 (as they still did in those days), and for Montreal, some routine of folk dancers. Can't really say much more – plus OCs weren't quite the spectacle yet that they have been in more recent decades.

1980 Moscow

I watched this as a uni student, and would-be little leftist agitator, at a time when supporting the Olympics was seen as a spit in the eye of our conservative government of the time who didn't want us to go. And it was probably one of our first big tastes of a good old Soviet propaganda spectacular. Things that stick in mind: the precision placard displays (it was pretty jaw-dropping at the time), Russian folk dancers, the athlete (can't remember who it was?) climbing the placards to light the cauldron, and Mischa (or am I getting it confused with the CC?). Certainly fed my taste for the ceremonies – and must've been the first I watched in colour (colour TV only came to Oz in the mid-70s)!

1984 Los Angeles

I saw this in the small hours of the morning, in a small farmhouse in Sweden, with a group of my cousins, while a midsummer party was going on around us. To be honest, I think we were all young with “attitude” to burn, and feined disdain with it, saying it was cheesy Hollywood-style Americana. But, those pianos and rocket man are still vivid in mind. Says a lot that it was a spectacle that can still be easily recalled vividly almost three decades on.

1988 Seoul

I watched this with my parents and a sister on a sunny afternoon at their place in the country. The last of the great daytime ceremonies in a convenient time zone for Oz. Lots of memories from this one – the skydivers making the Olympic rings, the kid and the hoop, the “fight” in the stadium as mentioned by Mattperiolat (I seem to remember they were huge rope knots, not dragons) and, of course, the BBQ squabs (I remember those vividly). I gotta say, I think Seoul's really appealed, and is perhaps a bit under-rated these days. But I do think it has been well surpassed too.

1992 Barcelona

Ah, Barcelona! What can I say, to me the most “magic” of all of them. Sure, many ceremonies may have been surpassed in technical wizardry since then, but I don't think any, apart from perhaps Lillehammer or (dare I say) Sydney, have surpassed them in passion, and colour and entertainment and artistry. The sea battle, the flameco, the flaming arrow – wow! And, to me, Barcelona was musically the best. Sorry Matt, but IMO, “Amigos Para Siempre” is head and shoulders the best Olympic OC song ever in setting a great mood for a great games!

1994 Lillehammer

The first of the winter OCs I can remember ever watching. And it's a pretty narrow decision to decide whether this or Barcelona's was my favourite of all time. Everything just seemed “right” - the light snowfall setting, the folkloric elements, the torch going down the jump – even the parade wasn't as excruciating as most of the others. Simply magical!

1996 Atlanta

Hmmmmm? While I don't, like many, disdain Atlanta's OC as crap, it didn't quite grab me emotionally like the ones it's book-ended by – Barcelona, Lillehammer and Sydney. It's hard to put my finger on it – individually there were some great memorable moments: southern summer, the “urn” tribute to the ancient games, even the pick-up trucks (I can't criticise that – we had lawnmowers in Sydney!). But altogether it didn't engage me as much as others. And wasn't awed at all by the cauldron, the lighting or Ali.

1998 Nagano

I know I saw it. I remember the bell tolling. I remember nothing else at all. Zzzzzzzz …

2000 Sydney

Well, it's impossible for me to be objective on this one. It was my home town, it did me proud, it brought tears to my eyes. The only OC I've ever watched more than once. It'll always live on in my heart as my personal favourite. But I don't expect everyone to agree either. I think we did a good job. I think Cathy Freeman's cauldron lighting is hard to beat.

2002 Salt Lake City

I know SLCs often gets rated amongst the best of the best, but I remember the eagle, the WTC flag and the Miracle on Ice team lighting the cauldron ... and not much else. Like I said, it's a winter ceremony – I just don't get as much of a kick out of them, or the WOGs overall, as the summer versions. I guess I may have to watch this again sometime.

2004 Athens

My first OC watched after I'd joined Gbids. It's funny, this one hasn't lived on in memory as much as others, though I DID like it at the time. To me the highlight was the parade of friezes of Greek history (I know it may not have worked as well live in the stadium, but it looked great on TV), the cycladic head, the kid in the paper boat, and the hurdler tribute to past games. Still a bit bemused by the lovers splashing in the water, the pregnant woman, and the DNA strand. All in all, I think it was a good ceremony, but a little underwhelming for what I expected. And was NOT a fan of the Tiesto techno music for the parade of nations.

2006 Torino

Maybe I was tired (I watched this about 4am in the morning in Sydney), but it all seemed a little dis-jointed to me. The “sparks of passion:, the Ferrari, the “alpine” tribute, the Renaissance (or whatever time period) garden party, all seemed nice ideas separately, but the sum of the parts was worth less than the individual components to me. I expected more Italian flair and passion.

2008 Beijing

What can I say? Everything about it was superlative. Loved how the theme of the scroll linked everything, blown out by how lavish and spectacular it all was. Was it less passionate than say, Barcelona's, Sydney's or SLCs? Perhaps, but I don't think the Chinese (or Asians in general) wear their passion on their sleeves like westerners do. To me, a bit like watching a special effects blockbuster movie – thrilling spectacle, but didn't engage me at any deeper level.

2010 Vancouver

Liked just about all of it – even the slam poet (actually, he was one of my favourite parts of it). If I was Canadian I'm sure I'd be as proud of it as I am with Sydney's. And, yes, the whales projection was one of the great memorable moments of Olympic ceremonies. Can't hear “Both Sides Now” without thinking of the prairie sequence.

My ratings:

Favorites: Sydney, Barcelona, Lillehammer

Runners-up: Beijing, Athens, Seoul, Vancouver

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