The children in the costumes of the various ethnic groups were cute, but how many children were actually of different ethnicities. Were they all local Han children from Beijing? Of course they were singing and saluting the flag during the national anthem as well.
I believe one of the songs had the line, "We kneel to the country"? Am I just reading into things? I don't think so. The NBC commentators, Bob Costas and Matt Lauer, talked about various parts of the show--one demonstration had a bunch of people doing taiji, while some children were in the middle singing. The significance? Taiji was supposed to be representative of the Chinese belief in the need for social harmony and harmony with nature. Only through harmony could the various problems facing China, especially the question of sustainable development and the damage to the environment, be solved. They also talked about the part showing China's Confucian heritage, and the need for virtue (among the rulers). Well, the CCP certainly needs some virtue at the moment, and if they do not admit publicly that a central authority cannot solve the problems facing China, they should at least do something about it quietly. I wish I had some photos of the actors during the Confucian part. The costumes were interesting, but I do not think they were 100% historically accurate for the Warring States period or the Han dynasty. (I'm actually not sure which period they were supposed to represent.)
How widespread is the corruption in the provinces?
Zhang Yi Mou, the director, did a very good job, and apparently answered some comment about the number of performers and how labor-intensive the ceremonies were: "We've got the people." The need for synchronization and precision was so great, and the performers did a very good job of executing. It wasn't that much of a surprise when we learned that the tablets (stones?) during the Confucian demo were being operated by people instead of machines. (The used to the stones to trace the character he, harmony. Having 1/5 of the world's population does give one a great talent pool to draw from. But it does make one consider what Aristotle said about the Eastern empires and their peoples in the Politics. I can't help but think of how authoritarianism and numbers might go hand-in-hand. Would it ever be possible for China to decentralize and become a federal system of various states? I don't think it's in the blood... for some reason there has always been a drive for a unified China, accomplished through war and consolidation.
If democracy is only an illusion in modern nation-states because of their size, how much more so would this be the case in China?
I wish I could have had a better view of the various performances symbolizing Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. The dancers and the parade of Chinese history was fun to watch, even if the display of China's accomplishments might have been a bit too much.
As for the parade of nations--many of the countries, including the United States, had unisex uniforms. I believe the national committees are responsible for the selection of the design, but I also think that the uniforms also say something about those countries, and perhaps about the nature of the competition too.
Will a DVD of the opening ceremonies become available? I don't think there is a complete video of it online. Photo Gallery.
The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
Edit. There are some clips of the opening ceremonies.
Did I mention that the modern Olympics is an instution of secular [atheistic] humanism? At least the ancient Greeks paid some sort of reverence to the "gods." Did Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin practice any religion?
From PIERRE DE COUBERTIN: A life dedicated to the revival of the Olympic Games --
Pierre de Coubertin also wanted to be seen as a pedagogue. All of his projects, including the Games, had the same aim in mind: to make men. His definition of Olympism had four principles that were far from a simple sports competition:
To be a religion i.e. to "adhere to an ideal of a higher life, to strive for perfection"; to represent an elite "whose origins are completely egalitarian" and at the same time "chivalry" with its moral qualities; to create a truce "a four-yearly festival of the springtime of mankind"; and to glorify beauty by the "involvement of the philosophic arts in the Games". It is clear that the concept of the Olympic Games is far from a simple sports competition.
Lot of Chinese cuties, including this one dancer; plus the cheerleaders/photo holders.
Then there were the Tang Dynasty dancers:
I missed this part:
The costumes look Korean... was this showcasing the different ethnic groups in China?
BEIJING - AUGUST 08: Tennis player Roger Federer of Switzerland carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Bongarts/Getty)
BEIJING - AUGUST 08: Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Liu Qi, President of BOCOG walk into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Getty)