Archive for the 'Opening Ceremonies' Category

Opening Ceremony Theater: Berlin, 1936

Most of the video that I’ve looked at for Opening Ceremony Theater has been funny, moving, or just plain weird. This is the only video that I’ve seen that is frightening. Delegations of athletes walking in perfect goose step, and as they get to Fuhrer, they all raise their hands in the Nazi salute. Seeing countries that were ravaged by Hitler’s Third Reich-Poland in particular-stopping to pay respect to Hitler is jaw-droppingly sad.

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Who Should Carry the Flag?

In one of the most moving parts of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the countries’ entire Olympic delegations march in, each led by one of the members of the delegation, carrying their flag. The United States’ flag bearer is elected by the athletes themselves, so my recommendations mean nothing. That will not, however, stop me from making those suggestions.

– Dremiel Byers – More than a Greco-Roman wrestler, Byers is also a staff sergeant in the Army. I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to the U.S. than having one of our soldier carry in our flag.

– Eric Shanteau – The breaststroker is putting off surgery for cancer for the games-that shows a pretty single-minded focus on achieving the Olympic dream.

– Lisa Fernandez – The softball pitcher is a four-time Olympian, three time gold medalist, and is a leader for a team that will no longer be able to compete in the Olympics.

– Kate Barber – As captain of the field hockey team, she has played a part in the development of the U.S. as a power. Before this year, the team had not qualified for any Games not played in the U.S.

Opening Ceremonies Theater: On a boat or on a train!

Technically, this is not part of the Opening Ceremonies, but it’s too wonderfully cheesy not to share. NBC aired a video introduction just before the Opening Ceremonies began backed by the song “America” by Neil Diamond. Do I need to say anything more?

Opening Ceremonies Theater: Barcelona

The highlight of every Opening Ceremonies is the lighting of the Olympic cauldron with the torch carried from Athens. It always produces a huge cheer from the crowd, and gives me chills. For emotional heft nothing beats Muhammad Ali using every ounce of strength and control that he owned to light the cauldron in Atlanta, 1996. But for the award for sheer astonishment in lighting the cauldron clearly goes to Barcelona in 1992. The Spaniards lit an arrow, and shot it into the cauldron, where it immediately burst into a huge flame. Phew. It still gives me chills to watch it on Youtube.

Opening Ceremonies Theater: Sydney’s Kewpie Dolls

In the last episode of Opening Ceremonies Theater, I brought you the beautiful simplicity of the Seoul Opening Ceremonies. Today, I bring you the frightening and over the top kewpie dolls of the Sydney games.

Kewpie dolls are frightening enough on their own, but when they are ten foot tall, dancing, and surrounded by couples dancing a rhythmless dance – it’s what causes young children to wake up in the middle of the night crying. (And when I say young children, I mean me.)

Opening Ceremonies Theatre: Seoul, 1988

The Olympic Ceremonies are always interesting to watch, at the very least. At its best, as in the clip above, the ceremonies can be a representation of the host country’s culture and traditions. The Seoul Opening Ceremonies look downright quaint compared to the ceremonies of Athens and Torino. They are during the day, without any elaborate sets, lighting or special effects. However, the sight of the Olympic rings being formed by skydivers (at 3:40) is awe-inspiring. Looking forward to Beijing, I am expecting nothing less than a ridiculous spectacle, though not anything Spielberg-esque.