Zhang Yimou and his team of 15,000 performers unleashed the force of several blockbusters to the world Friday night. Call it a visual extravaganza, a period epic, a thriller, call it what you will, the Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony was in many ways China's way of announcing to the world that it was worlds away from many others.
So everyone has written about how important this event is to China, how a nervous nation of a billion plus people prays for the success of their Olympiad, and the media has collectively gushed about the opening spectacular. That's old news.
What's new to me is NBC's amateur coverage of the opening ceremony. Here we are, jaws hanging mid-air, unbelieving at the sight of what poeple power - not technolgy -can achieve. And there, NBC's busy cutting to fifteen different camera angles without ever allowing your eyes to settle on the work of magicians unfolding on the floor of the Bird's Nest. NBC, maybe you should've unpacked fewer cameras for the ceremony.
The lesson in Chinese history was maybe a couple hours. And then China gave me a lesson in geapgraphy. The Parade of Nations. Did you know that Marshall Islands is a country? or Benin? Palau?
Here's the highlights from the Parade (no alphabetical order here, as the nations walked in to the number of strokes in the Chinese script for their country names) -
Spain - sent a lot of athletes, but all NBC could focus on was Nadal.
Brazil - where was Ronaldinho, man?!
Iraq - walked in to a rousing welcome. And NBC immediately cut to a clapping Bush and the first lady. Now that's a lesson in predictability, NBC.
Iran - No particularly warm welcome here. And, thankfully, no Bush.
India - NBC commentators ribbed India for its non-existent medal tally compared to the other billion plus nation.
Japan - Athletes from every country walked past holding digital cameras and camcorders. I caught a Japanese athlete carrying the smallest video recording gadget I've ever seen. Well, of course Japan.
Mongolia - Spotted a Mongolian athlete carrying a large VHS camcorder! Really?
France - The Chinese didn't protest. A nice welcome and a bright smile on Sarkozy's face.
Russia - The day they rolled into Georgia, their athletes walked on Chinese territory. Putin saluted from inside a tank.
Switzerland - Birthday boy Federer is the flag bearer. And NBC is glued to his face. Take that Nadal!
USA - Didn't see Phelps. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Keri Walsh filled the screen for him.
China - brought the brand new Bird's Nest down as they walked in.
And so, my day in school with a special focus on history, geography, and cinematic kick-ass came to an end.
Labels: 2008 Olympics, Beijing, NBC