Well, it finally happened - and it was the spectacular show I was expecting.
The Chinese really did deliver with these ceremonies. It was a stunning blend of state-of-the-art technology, human choreography, and creative genius. The huge, bright rollout LED screen and the stadium surround-scrim, plus accompanying automated lighting (presumably digital) and projection technology, were all impeccably programmed, not to mention the mind-blowing fireworks. It must have taken years of programming to get the details and transitions perfected. I certainly did expect the massed entertainment as that has always been part of the Chinese tradition, but this was done to perfection, right down to each individual performer's exact execution of moves. What was a nice surprise was not to see too much of the trite Chinese symbols such as dragons, excessive martial arts (although the Tai Chi performance was truly great), acrobats, Terra Cotta warriors, etc. The performances were more to do with ingenuity and building unusual interpretations on the theme of China coming into its own in the world. (Canada take note for the 2010 Winter Olympics - stay away from trite Canadian symbols!!)
An interesting commentary on where the Olympics are going was given almost inadvertently by one of the NBC commentators who said that it was obvious that the "Bird's Nest" had been purposefully built as a venue for the Opening Ceremonies, to the effect that the producer almost said, "Here is what I want to do; now build me a stadium to do it in." I wonder if the rest of the world is taking note. The spectacle is more important than the sports, because that's what sells. How many people watch the ceremonies and not any of the sports?? It would be interesting to see the numbers. This really is the age of event marketing.
Can't wait for the Closing Ceremonies - but I will watch as many of the sports in between as possible.
Well done, China!