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Olympics spectacle...

Last night, I watched the entire Olympics opening ceremony. I didn't mean to, but at 7:36pm I decided I'd regret it if I didn't at least record it, and then I got sucked in. At 9:15pm, after some of the MOST JAW-DROPPING performances and spectacle I've ever seen, holy crap, raqs called to find out if I was watching. She had just started watching near the beginning (but she missed the drummers! :( ). So I backed up on my DVR and we watched together, up through maybe halfway through the parade of nations.

Then she wimped out to go, like, SLEEP, and junk. I sat there and watched all of the rest of the parade and the torch lighting.

Let me tell you, that was a HELL of a show. China, and the show's artistic director, can be damned proud of itself. Athens had a lot of spectacle. This was... more beautiful, better coordinated and performed. It was all really classy-looking, too. I didn't look at any of it and think, "well, that's a bit tacky".

Without going into spoilers, the torch-lighting was very cool, too. And very "wow".

Raqs and I were discussing briefly how it might compare to what is, for us, the best modern Olympics opening ceremony: Barcelona in 1992. But the thing is, I don't remember any of Barcelona's opening, EXCEPT for two things. I remember the performance of the Ode to Joy portion of Beethoven's Ninth (... why not? even if he isn't particularly associated with Barcelona), by a quartet of operatic singers as well as orchestra. And I remember the torch-lighting as the COOLEST thing I had ever seen.

So before I went to bed, I checked to see if that is on YouTube. OF COURSE IT IS. It was great to get to watch it again after 16 years. Here it is:

Most torch-lightings for Olympics seem to be staged in a fairly "can't go wrong" kind of way -- you know, someone significant actually touches the torch to the cauldron, or they light a big fuse, essentially, that takes the fire to the cauldron.

What made Barcelona's choice so bad-ass was that element of uncertainty. Not that I think they WERE uncertain, because I don't think they would have done it if they hadn't had complete faith that that guy would make the shot. And yet -- it was a method that could be acted on by conditions far more, I tend to think, than the fuse method. (Not that that couldn't go wrong, too; I've never heard of it going wrong, though.) Just look at the WIND that's blowing the flame of the torch as the guy stands there before lighting the arrow. And yes, that's a big cauldron -- but you've still got to drop the shot in it, while compensating for that wind. Damn.

(Maybe what made it particularly impressive to us was that at the time we were still doing archery, and we shot the clout every year at Pennsic, so we had some idea of what it takes to shoot up and into something like that. Then -- do it in the dark; at a smallish target; in the wind; IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE WORLD OMG.)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
That really was the most breath-takingly gorgeous opening ceremony! I dvr'd it and am pretty sure I'm going to have to go back and watch it again.
Aug. 9th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Whoa, I'd never seen the Barcelona opening before. That IS amazing.

My thought on the Chinese opening ceremony:

Damn China has a lot of people, and they seemed to emphasize this with every different performance.

Wondering about spending so much money on the opening ceremony when I know there are still plenty of people who need help after the earthquake. :/

The performances themselves were great- though I missed the drummers! A fantastic lightning storm moved into Spokane and I had to go outside to watch it. When I finally came back inside, the parade of nations had begun.
Aug. 9th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Every time there's an Olympics I always think "No one will ever top Barcelona." That was the most amazing thing. The ski jumper in Lillehammer was actually too gimmicky, but guy shooting a flaming arrow over the cauldron was just awesome.
Aug. 9th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
I just Googled around for a while trying to see if he actually lit the cauldron (the answer I like so far: Yes, though he lit it by passing through the flammable vapors over the cauldron rather than by dropping an arrow into the cauldron itself). Anyway, I am now both horrified and highly amused by the unfortunate dove torching incident in Seoul. Oops.
Aug. 9th, 2008 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh HELL YES. I was just saying to RM as we watched our (incomplete, sigh) tape of the ceremonies that I loved Barcelona's torch-lighting the best. Still do-- thanks for the vid! (In 1992, one of my friends from undergrad still had realistic Olympic dreams for archery, which added to the OMG factor, too.)
Sep. 17th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, still the ballsiest move for a lighting ceremony.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )