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Favorite Top 12 Ceremonial Moments/Sequences


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This hasn't been done here yet, I think. So here goes ... my Top Dozen Ceremonial Moments / Sequences / Stunts (most impressive, unique, daring, breathtaking, magical. ambitious, etc....) -- not just Olympic...sort of in and no particular order at the same time

1. the UFO appearance, LA84 Closing

2. the Cycladic head, Athens04 opening

3. the zoetrope/silhouette Greek effect, Atlanta96 opening

4. the arrow Lighting, Barcelona92

5. cauldron-lighting, Sydney00

6. printing modules sequence, Beijing08 OC

7. opening 'Light the Fire Within' sequence, Salt Lake02

8. the floating islands, Sochi14

9. "Call of the Spirits" sequence, Atlanta96 opening

10. "Who Can Hear the Wind?" sequence, Vancouver10 opening

11. the Soviet Society sequence, Sochi14 opening

12. artistic sequences, South Africa 2010 Closing ceremony!!

What are yours? You can use some of the above; but no more than 2 per same Games.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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my 12 favourite moments of Olympic Ceremonies - split in categories, but not in particular order - but first I want to say that the ceremonies of London are something special to me and I could just say Opening Ceremony 2012 in total, but I want to be fair with the other ceremonies too:


LIGHTNING OF THE FLAME

Lightning of the flame in a water pool - OC SYDNEY 2000
Lightning of the cauldron with an arrow - OC BARCELONA 1992

SEGMENT

El mar de Mediterraneo - OC BARCELONA 1992

Deep Sea Dreaming - OC SYDNEY 2000

The animated Ski Jumper - OC TORINO 2006

MAGIC MOMENT

The frozen lake in the woods with its animals - OC SALT LAKE CITY 2002

The forging of the Olympic Rings - OC LONDON 2012

The letter 和 (harmony) is formed by movable type blocks at the same time hundreds of performers recite a famous quote of Confucius' analects -- OC BEIJING 2008

The trolls emerge out of the snowy ground - OC LILLEHAMMER 1994

The ballet in the snow storm - OC SOCHI 2014

HUMOUR

James Bond escorts her majesty to a helicopter/Queen's parachute jump - OC LONDON 2012

The tongue-in-cheek homage to the cauldron malfunction - CC VANCOUVER 2010

Edited by Citius Altius Fortius
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Here we go...

Pandemonium London 2012 - the ripping apart of beautiful Britain, the War remembrance and the rings. Rest of ceremony a mess.

Soviet life in the 50s/60s/70s/80s Sochi 2014 - beautiful portrayal of a discredited times with real heart.

Constructivist Art Sochi 2014

Awakenings (Indigenous segment) Sydney 2000 - as an indigenous man this 'grounding' of the Sydney Games in the cultures of this land was spiritual and beautiful. No other indigenous moment has had quite the meaning or beauty.

Greek Homage Atlanta 1996 - spectacular images and sound... and simple.

Cycladic Head and History Parade Athens 2004 - Sublime

Flame Lighting Barcelona and Sydney

Opening Drums Beijing 2008

My Island Home Closing Sydney 2000 Again a sublime moment, beautiful reworked song... 'my home in a cosmic sea'

Beijing Paralympic Opening - just about all of it!

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My 12, in no particular order:

1 - The Mediterranean Segment, Barcelona 1992

2 - The Nature Segment, Sydney 2000

3 - The Silhouette Greek Segment, Atlanta 1996

4 - The Drums Countdown, Beijing 2008

5 - The Peaks of Endeavor Segment, Vancouver 2010

6 - The Seek Peace Segment, Manchester 2002

7 - The Floating Isles Segment, Sochi 2014

8 - Welcome to the World Segment, Atlanta 1996

9 - The Scottie Dogs, Glasgow 2014

10 - The Enchanted Forest Segment, Salt Lake City 2002

11 - The Elephants, South Africa 2010

12 - The Stadium of Flags, LA 1984

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In no particular order:

Moscow 1980 - Olympic rings segment (human vases)

Atlanta 1996 - Welcome to the World - often the most derided part of the ceremony, but I loved it. Its shameless fun and youthfulness contrasted the rest of the ceremony, without being jarring (I'm looking at you, Danny Boyle)

Atlanta 1996 - Summertime

Sydney 2000 - Awakening

Sydney 2000 - Nature

Sydney 2000 - Marching Band

Athens 2004 - The Entire Ceremony - Completely flawless.

Beijing 2008 - the drummers intro

Vancouver 2010 - KD Lang singing Hallelujah - the most moving music moment in any Olympic Ceremony - overall I found the overall 2010 ceremony to be highly emotive, but no particular segment sticks out as best.

London 2012 - Pandemonium

Sochi 2014 - Islands

Sochi 2014 - Soviet Union sequences

Best non Olympic moments i've seen:

Manchester 2002 Closing "Seek Peace"

Melbourne 2006 Opening "Under the Milky Way tonight" - really understated and gorgeous - it had a real tenderness that was lacking from the raw and brash Sydney opening six years earlier.

Melbourne 2006 Closing - Delhi 2010 handover - wow! I was there in person and it had so much energy- great use of the cavernous MCG.

London 2012 Paralympic Opening - Beautiful a far superior/more cohesive ceremony (overall) than the London Olympic Opening. I loved that the artistic elements avoided the condescending tone many of the Paralympic ceremonies have taken over the years - Beijing and Sydney come to mind in this regard. (But i guess this is reflective of time going by and attitudes changing)


Honourable mention to the music segment of London Olympic closing, with the model of London. The newspapers, etc.. beautiful. Plus I'm a big Blur fan, so it helped!

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Great topic....

I think my top 12, in no particular order (just the order that they come into my head)...

- Athens 2004: Allegory (while the cycladic head may have been the show stopper, the big scene setter for me was the reading of Mythistorema 3. That short reading set the whole pattern and concept of the opening ceremony.

- Athens 2004: Book of Life/DNA: (the simplistic but highly beautiful moment of the female character rising her arms into the sky as the double helix was formed. Epic.

- Melbourne 2006: Under the Milky Way: (agreed with other posters, this is the one kind of feature that Sydney lacked. It had a modern touch, but was at the same time beautiful, with a well worked grunty soundtrack. I'd call this segment magical

- London 2012: Pandemonium (would have to go down as one of the most epic pieces of stadium theatre purely for ambitious set transformation.

- Barcelona 92: El Mar Mediterrani (again, sits with Pandemonium as one of the class epic bits of Olympic ceremonies. It may have borrowed a fair bit from a few other ceremonies of the couple years prior, but again so ambitious with a classic piece of music. It showed its class by the so understated, simple but highly effective finishes aswell

- Manchester 2002: Common Wealth (always said this is my favourite closing ceremony piece full stop. A fantastic soundtrack, haunting, beautiful, ambitious, with a great message at the end

- Sydney 2000: Cauldron Lighting (moments when you witness something and you know it's special and you won't see anything like it repeated for some time. That is the feeling I got from the whole sequence, and to be honest, there hasn't been such expectation around a cauldron lighting since.

- Atlanta 96: Shadow Play (i've always stood up for the atlanta opening ceremony , i think it was an amazing production. This was the highlight, a fantastic bit of music from Basil Poledouris and just so so clever.

-LA84: Rhapsody in Blue (just so eye catching and classic

- Beijing 2008: Dragon Pillar segment (my favourite part of this opening ceremony. I loved the music, the colour, the stadium looked fantastic, also some really good camera angles have stuck this in my head as one of my favourites.

- Lillehammer 94: opening finale (the sequence featuring the vetter and the egg. It is pretty simplistic really, but mixed with the location and environment I would challenge anyone to find a segment more representative of the winter Olympics. Loved it.

- Sochi 2014: ballet (some fantastic choreography and lighting in the ballroom themed piece.

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Great to see your response, Matty. Was waiting for you to pipe in.

Great topic....

- Atlanta 96: Shadow Play (i've always stood up for the atlanta opening ceremony , i think it was an amazing production. This was the highlight, a fantastic bit of music from Basil Poledouris and just so so clever.

The seemingly simple concept was deceptive because, oy vey, it was arduous to execute. The segment was code-named "The Column Team" initially asking for 16 crew members only, to push the 8 steel towers into place. So the 2 each turned out to be woefully inadequate. But even with the tarp covering over the infield, it was a bitch to push those steel columns with motors, weighing at least 2,500 lbs, over the uneven surface. They ended up having 5 or 6 burly people push each of the 8 columns into place; so the initial need of 16 had to filled by some 45 people instead. And the columns had to be made of steel so that once the 50-ft high fabric scrim was fully extended, the whole thing would stay up even if strong gales of wind blew. (Oh, and there were 16 other hands who took care of putting out the scrim and taking it out via that hole in the middle.) The timing of the raising of the scrim was particularly problematic but it worked perfectly on the one night that it mattered!! Yes, that bit was pure genius.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I couldn't really argue much with the Baron's original list, but there are some great additions in the others, particularly Barcelona's Mediterranean segment. I'm a bit sad that nobody has mentioned Melbourne 2006's tram- the wings were so cute!

Also, after reading this article about the Auden poem which was one of the main inspirations for Caliban's Dream, I'm more than ever convinced that the London cauldron lighting is a moment of pure Zen, with the way the music takes you into contemplative stillness as the flames unite, only for the simple act of turning up the gas to generate new elation.

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Surprised to see so many people give Melbourne 2006 praises. I liked that ceremony, but I didn't love it.. Even though it was my hometown. That said I think it was probably one of the tightest, non-Olympic ceremonies I can think of. Very big in scale but also very simple - it wasn't boring like Glasgow, or cheap-ish like Manchester felt at parts.

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Surprised to see so many people give Melbourne 2006 praises. I liked that ceremony, but I didn't love it.. Even though it was my hometown. That said I think it was probably one of the tightest, non-Olympic ceremonies I can think of. Very big in scale but also very simple - it wasn't boring like Glasgow, or cheap-ish like Manchester felt at parts.

But this thread is about individual scenes or "stunts" within ceremonies, so, as some contributors have made clear in specific cases, it's perfectly possible even to be actively hostile to a ceremony overall, yet still list part of it among the "twelve best".

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Melbourne is perhaps even more of a surprise considering the original director of the ceremony (Nigel Jamieson) left in 2005. I believe most of his ideas were also changed, so it was a fresh theme and script introduced by Andrew Walsh.

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I was at the Melbourne (and Sydney) opening....the 2006 Comm Games opening technical achievements were first class (the tram and city projections were spectacular) but the ceremony itself had no narrative, theme, story or even just a chronology of a great city (one of the worlds richest in the late 1800s). There was no soul, and to a degree no point of the ceremony. Sydney told the Australian story in 2000, Melbourne ended up just colour and movement, albeit often well done.

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I was at the Melbourne (and Sydney) opening....the 2006 Comm Games opening technical achievements were first class (the tram and city projections were spectacular) but the ceremony itself had no narrative, theme, story or even just a chronology of a great city (one of the worlds richest in the late 1800s).

I've only seen it on DVD. But it did have a narrative -- the boy and his duck. As a matter of fact, starting with Sydney, the next 5 big Ceremonies had the "journeys" of little kids:

- Nikki Webster (as Little Miss Australia) and her hallucinogenic ceremony ;)

- Ryne Sanborn was Child of Light #1 in Salt Lake (backed by 800 Children of Light); and he welcomed the little girl from

- Torino...which carried the same "child" theme

- remember little Greek boy on the "paper" boat in Athens; then the little girl who blew out the flame?

- Melbourne 06 told the story of the boy and his pet duck;

- Doha '06 featured young Sinbad and his flying carpet.

- and just recently, Sochi, told the story of Luba* ("Love") and her friends at the Closing ("Valentina" and "Yuri") .

*- pretty much, a Nikki W. of the North transposed to temperate Sochi. ;) (The same, "dream" concept.) Beijing didn't feature kids too much in their show (other than the controversial little nat'l anthem-singing gals & the Space segment) nor did RSA 2010 and I think, Delhi 2010? So it seemed to be the trend for the 2000 - 2006 period. I wonder if Rio will follow with the story of young Paolo? They did use those 4 kids in their excellent bid video, to explain the 4 clusters. .

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I was at the Melbourne (and Sydney) opening....the 2006 Comm Games opening technical achievements were first class (the tram and city projections were spectacular) but the ceremony itself had no narrative, theme, story or even just a chronology of a great city (one of the worlds richest in the late 1800s). There was no soul, and to a degree no point of the ceremony. Sydney told the Australian story in 2000, Melbourne ended up just colour and movement, albeit often well done.

Pretty fair call, I'd say.

I think if Melbourne had hosted in 1996 more thought would have been given toward narrative and knitting the city's history into the Australian story - and as your point out, the 1850s Gold Rush (one of biggest ever up with California) would be a big moment --- potentially something extremely spectacular could be drawn out of it too (I'm thinking an Australian Pandemonium) Sydney went there a little bit with the industrialisation theme following British arrival... but the gold rush itself, told from the Melbourne perspective would be magic. I think the gold rush was a notably absent from Sydney's ceremony, only because it would probably be veering too far "south of the border" - it was Sydney's moment after all. There were some Victorian elements thought, Ned Kelly being the notable one.

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I've only seen it on DVD. But it did have a narrative -- the boy and his duck. As a matter of fact, starting with Sydney, the next 5 big Ceremonies had the "journeys" of little kids:

- Nikki Webster (as Little Miss Australia) and her hallucinogenic ceremony ;)

- Ryne Sanborn was Child of Light #1 in Salt Lake (backed by 800 Children of Light); and he welcomed the little girl from

- Torino...which carried the same "child" theme

- remember little Greek boy on the "paper" boat in Athens; then the little girl who blew out the flame?

- Melbourne 06 told the story of the boy and his pet duck;

- Doha '06 featured young Sinbad and his flying carpet.

- and just recently, Sochi, told the story of Luba* ("Love") and her friends at the Closing ("Valentina" and "Yuri") .

*- pretty much, a Nikki W. of the North transposed to temperate Sochi. ;) (The same, "dream" concept.) Beijing didn't feature kids too much in their show (other than the controversial little nat'l anthem-singing gals & the Space segment) nor did RSA 2010 and I think, Delhi 2010? So it seemed to be the trend for the 2000 - 2006 period. I wonder if Rio will follow with the story of young Paolo? They did use those 4 kids in their excellent bid video, to explain the 4 clusters. .

I am aware they TRIED to have a narrative with the child- but it was poorly thought out and executed.

  • The boy and duck turned up half way through the show after many of the WOW moments had passed- like the tram.They could have 'arrived' on the tram, and then watched as the city of people exploded around them.
  • The boy and duck were peripheral to the indigenous moment- wheras as Nikki was centre stage, being taken by the hand by the elder to show her the history of the land.
  • The boy and duck had nothing to do with the ballerinas, bike, Delta, flam, Queen....in fact hardly any of the action...

So an attempted narrative does not make narrative...so what was the narrative, boy and duck walk into Melbourne and.......??? Stuff happens around them.

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I am aware they TRIED to have a narrative with the child- but it was poorly thought out and executed.

  • The boy and duck turned up half way through the show after many of the WOW moments had passed- like the tram.They could have 'arrived' on the tram, and then watched as the city of people exploded around them.
  • The boy and duck were peripheral to the indigenous moment- wheras as Nikki was centre stage, being taken by the hand by the elder to show her the history of the land.
  • The boy and duck had nothing to do with the ballerinas, bike, Delta, flam, Queen....in fact hardly any of the action...

So an attempted narrative does not make narrative...so what was the narrative, boy and duck walk into Melbourne and.......??? Stuff happens around them.

Well, how come I remember the boy and his duck???

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I'm going to have to say I thought the boy and the duck were pointless--- it did have its roots as Leunig reference, but how that linked into everything else wasn't quite clear.

Melbourne had an issue with narrative- like London it was a mish mash of amazing moments of varying integrity . That said I still maintain it's the best quality the Commonwealth Games has seen - I doubt even GC18 will topple it in that regard (I expect 2018 to be a rehashed and cheapened version of Sydney's nature segment)

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I'm going to have to say I thought the boy and the duck were pointless--- it did have its roots as Leunig reference, but how that linked into everything else wasn't quite clear.

Melbourne had an issue with narrative- like London it was a mish mash of amazing moments of varying integrity . That said I still maintain it's the best quality the Commonwealth Games has seen - I doubt even GC18 will topple it in that regard (I expect 2018 to be a rehashed and cheapened version of Sydney's nature segment)

Thanks- I didn't think I was hallucinating at the MCG that night thinking WTF is this ceremony about- impressive and expensive yes, but a bit pointless too. And I adore Leunig.

I hope the Gold Coast scales the ceremonies right back- classy and simple. That is not exactly what the Gold Coast is known for though!

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Thanks- I didn't think I was hallucinating at the MCG that night thinking WTF is this ceremony about- impressive and expensive yes, but a bit pointless too. And I adore Leunig.

I hope the Gold Coast scales the ceremonies right back- classy and simple. That is not exactly what the Gold Coast is known for though!

Meter maids in the parade of nations? Quite a contrast from the Scotty dogs!

It's going to be the Atlanta of the Commonwealth Games.

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Meter maids in the parade of nations? Quite a contrast from the Scotty dogs!

It's going to be the Atlanta of the Commonwealth Games.

I think they will have a 'schoolies' section, they are chased away by 'toolies', a Joh Bjelke Petterson 'white shoe' section where they concrete over the whole stadium floor and then sell it for redevelopment to the Chinese.... etc...

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I think they will have a 'schoolies' section, they are chased away by 'toolies', a Joh Bjelke Petterson 'white shoe' section where they concrete over the whole stadium floor and then sell it for redevelopment to the Chinese.... etc...

Possibly the baton arriving on a surfside bus service, a gaggle of ferral jacked up sluts on board - yelling abuse at every non-Australian as it encircles the athletes.

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My turn now ! In no particular order:

- Klepsydra / Hourglass section (Athens 2004)

- First 12 mins of Sochi 2014 Opening (the one with the failed rings, of course)

- Temple of Zeus (Atlanta 1996)

- Typesetting mechanism of Beijing 2008

- First section of Athens 2004 (until the flaming Olympic rings)

- Lighting of the cauldron by an arrow (Barcelona 1992)

- Nagano 1998 Peace Appeal song (I don't know why bust I just listen to it again and again)

- Flying Misha of Moscow 1980 !

- Cauldron lighting of Sydney 2000

- Pandemonium section of London 2012

- Ski jumping with the cauldron (Lillehammer 1994)

- Beijing's drum countdown

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