By Keen Zhang
"I never felt so in love with my motherland until this proud moment," said Yang Ziyan, a young lady who attended historic Beijing Olympic opening ceremony last night. Speaking to China.org.cn, she said of the effect of the stunning Olympic launch - especially the first part, which likewise took away the breath of 4 billion people watching around the globe.
"It was truly a feast for the ear and the eye," she said of the artistic performance. Yang, a counselor in her 20's, got hold of the hottest ticket in the Chinese capital through one of her friends just a few days ago. "Every scene made you want to cheer. Many people shed tears – I was one of them," she added. It seems that there was no comparison between the on-screen version of events and the real one.
Other than the summer heat inside the "Bird's Nest" stadium, which cost around 3.5 billion yuan (US$423 million) to build, she had no complaints.
The spectacle began at 20:00 on Friday evening with lavish fireworks lighting up the sky and magical rays shining on the stadium. With 2008 drummers, 2008 kung fu masters, thousands of volunteers, athletes and performers, and a crowd of 90,000, including dignitaries from over 80 nations, phenomenal performances were enacted on a huge LED screen embedded in the ground and decorated as a Chinese painting scroll. All the elements of the show were built around this.
The atmosphere turned everything inside the stadium into a romantic and poetic dream, showcasing one of the world's oldest civilizations and its profound culture, history, future and hopes. There were moments when it took the watchers' imagination back to the Tang Dynasty, one of China's heydays.
Director Zhang Yimou, a master of the colors and visual effects seen in his blockbuster movie Hero, has another triumph to his name.
A number of critics hit out at him for not putting enough energy and passion into the Opening Ceremony, instead centering the event on a peaceful artistic piece. The plain and simple theme song You and Me was sung by Chinese top singer Liu Huang and British soprano Sarah Brightman, but highlighted a universal and philanthropic theme - Harmony. This was also demonstrated in an earlier unforgettable section introducing China's Four Great Inventions - typeset printing, paper-making, gunpowder and the compass.
Sadly, as 3-time Olympic gold medalist Li Ning was running with the torch around the rim of the stadium -- a jaw-dropping secret he had not revealed even to his own wife -- to light the Olympic flame, this fleeting opportunity for the whole world to join hands in the name of peace and harmony was broken by the cruel reality of Russia and Georgia exchanging fire in South Ossetia.
(China.org.cn August 9, 2008)