Sunday, August 10, 2008

2008 Beijing Opening Ceremony

Thanks to a dearest friend that recorded the Opening ceremony and was so kind to let me borrow it, today I was able to finally watch the complete Zhang Yimou unbelievably good segment that absolutely had his particular filmmaker style and looked as the most amazing film that when and if they ever release a DVD of only the segment, it will go to my large collection of Zhang Yimou’s movies, not only to complement it, but also as one of the most spectacular films that tell Chinese history, with present ideas and wishes for the future.

If you notice I’m writing about the ceremony here in the movie blog and I have been calling the segment a Film. Yes, if for 50 minutes or so you forget that this is a sports event, you’ll be able to see it as a film and one of the most amazing films you ever seen, as not even grandiose epic films have so many performers (if you count the audience plus the show performers you’ll have an awesome 91,000 plus 15,000 –i.e. 106,000- number of performers), such an extraordinary use of technology, amazing use of light, color, spectacular costumes, music, sound, awesome and surreal fireworks (in the outdoor takes the smog gave fireworks a surreal look) and the most elaborate script for each and every one of the segments telling the story.

And you have to think that compressing more than 5,000 years of Chinese history into a less than a hour segment must have been one of the most difficult task Yimou and others had to face. Still the total spectacle was a comprehensive vision of some relevant aspects of Chinese history. Well, comprehensive if you can decipher symbols that are so common in Yimou’s films.

But what interests me in this post is to share with you some comments from different articles that you find in the net and from the after the ceremony official press conference.

“The ancient art of calligraphy figured in the ceremony. Zhang has used calligraphy in his movies as a way of displaying Chinese resolve under pressure, as well as a sign of ingenuity.” Variety

“Olympics ceremony director Zhang Yimou said directing an Olympic ceremony was more complicated than directing a movie. He also dropped a hint about the August 24 closing ceremony, the most important feature of which, he said, would be the extinguishing of the flame.” Press conference

“He said that mounting such a performance combining the latest gadgetry with traditional forms is "100 times more complicated than making a movie". Press conference

“Zhang Yimou said the huge scroll used in the opening ceremony was the team's masterpiece. "It's the biggest performance art prop in the world, and should be preserved for posterity." He suggested putting it in the Olympics Museum or auctioning it to a private collector.” Press conference

“Zhang Yimou s'est, lui, toujours défendu d'être fasciné par le spectacle visuel. "Si dans vingt ans, on ne garde dans les livres qu'une seule phrase à mon sujet, j'aimerais que ce soit : "Le style de Zhang Yimou se caractérise par une présentation visuelle forte dans une tournure typiquement chinoise"", dit-il à Time Magazine en 2004.” Le Monde

If you want to read how Zhang Yimou became the Chief Director and some events since 1991 when he did the promo video with Jackie Chang go here for a short story with photos.

This video is the Olympics advertisement done also by Zhang Yimou with what I believe was an expression of his concept and obviously after seeing the ceremony it makes total sense.

This is my little homage to Zhang Yimou for giving us one of the most memorable spectacles my eyes will ever see and I only hope that those serious cinema lovers can appreciate the complex and outstanding work invested in creating this outstanding presentation that since the second it was over became a must be seen Zhang Yimou oeuvre to treasure along his amazing films.

Last I want to share with you that every single time I have been able to see the segment I discover new things that I have not seen before, there are so many things happening at the same time that it is truly hard to see everything that’s going on with only one time watching. So, I strongly suggest that if you have access to a recording, watch it several times to grasp everything that’s going on in the screen.

Big Enjoy!!!

P.S. If you're unable to see the video, perhaps is because Youtube is deleting all videos related to the Olympic games... Still this is just advertising, but for now seems we would not be able to watch ads too. :)

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