"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

A Video Clip History of Olympic Opening Ceremonies

Olympic ceremonies have ranged from camp trash to deeply serious, military-style maneuvers. The Chinese opening ceremony will, no doubt, manage to combine the two, but there will be one important cultural factor that will come into play. The Chinese invented fireworks, and early footage suggests that several megatons of Firecrackers will welcome in Beijing 2008. Enough to pollute the air!

The Olympics started in Greece, as the Athenians tried to tell us in 2004 in an hour long, surreal, extravaganza, featuring a video link ‘drum off’ and people in illuminated pregnancy costumes. Professional eccentric, Bjork, completed the hallucinogenic effect with one of her songs…

.. In 2000, Sydney had been sung out by another pop star, and gay icon, Kylie Minoque, who sang gay anthem ‘Dancing Queen’, just to remind us that the original games featured naked male wrestling…

…Sydney’s real Queen is the same as Canada’s. Montreal’s 1976 Opening ceremony showed that Britain still thought it owned parts of North America, with the British Queen performing silk-gloved ceremonial duties in the manner of supermarket opening and ship launches, the world over…

… and yet another famous Queen, Jim Bailey, performed a Judy Garland impersonation, in drag, at the 1984 LA Olympics…

…which brought back razamataaz to the opening ceremonies, by actually featuring a REAL LIVE JETPACK!…

… LA put the previous games which were held in Communist Moscow in 1980, into stark relief. The Moscow opening ceremony was presided over by a stony faced, massive eyebrowed, Brezhnev and resembled military pageants where missile laden trucks would file past Soviet dignitaries. Entertainment was provided by the weird communist habit of performing giant card-flipping displays, that currently form the entire cultural output of North Korea…

…meanwhile South Korea in 1988 proved that given prosperity North Korea would be able to put on a show like them: a million pink clad school girls in a Hello Kitty Karaoke-fest…

…of course, Karaoke and Hello Kitty, actually come from neighboring Japan, where the Winter Olympic ceremony of 1964 was conducted with the seriousness of a ritual suicide, including the somber lighting of the Olympic cauldron…

…The fact that we take the Olympic torch thing seriously, is more than a little creepy. The ritual of the Olympic torch had been revived by the Nazis, who commissioned filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to produce a disturbingly good documentary film of the disturbingly evil 1936 Berlin Olympics, including this part showing the opening ceremony…

… But the Nazi origins somehow have been forgotten and lighting the Olympic cauldron has become more theatrical over time. In Barcelona 1992 it was lit from a long, long way away, by a single shot from a flaming arrow…

…In 1996 in Atlanta, people were shocked at the sight of Muslim American hero, Muhammad Ali who trembled uncontrollably,due to Parkinsons disease as he attempted to light the flame. The task looked more challenging than the Barcelona arrow shot…

…but the saddest of all the stories of the Olympic ceremonies, their political hypocrisy and ultimate inability to unite people more than temporarily has to be the Sarajevo Winter Olympics of 1984. Eight years after the games this film was made on the same site…

sport, world

2 comments on “A Video Clip History of Olympic Opening Ceremonies

  1. Waffle says:

    did you see the list of official mascots through the years?

    http://www.richandcreamy.org/pages/index.php?article_id=345

  2. Kir says:

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