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Beijing Olympics Opening ceremony director praises team performance
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"I regret many things, many details of this performance, many things that I could have done better," said Zhang Yimou, director of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, at a press conference on Saturday.

After planning and carrying out a spectacular event that reflected the ancient and modern images of China to the world, Zhang remained humble and reflective.

"For example, there are performers who were injured. I blame myself for that. It might well have been avoided if I had given more detailed instructions," he said.

"We had many difficulties. I do not like complaining, but sometimes there are obstacles you can not overcome, that you and your team have to face," he said. "What everyone cares about is the final result. We all know this, so we don't explain."

Contrary to the harsh criticism he reserved for himself, the acclaimed film director gave unreserved acclaim to the team as a whole. "I would give our whole team a '100' in the performance of the opening ceremony," Zhang said.

A multimedia, three-dimensional display on such a large scale is very complicated and demands the utmost of each member of the team, he said.

About 22,000 people took part in the gala, in which 15,000 costumes were used and 43,000 fireworks lit.

With all the technical complexities involved, the opening ceremony was 100 times more difficult than making a movie, he said, adding that such a performance was unprecedented in the world.

Despite the complexity and spectacular nature of the event, Friday's ceremony wasn't as costly as it might have looked. According to Zhang, the total cost for the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Olympics and the Paralympics would not exceed that of the Doha Asian Games Opening ceremony alone. That extravaganza in the Gulf reportedly cost 180 million U.S. dollars.

"We encouraged economic use of resources in preparing for the Olympic Games," Zhang said.

When asked whether Beijing's ceremony would put pressure on London, the next host city of the Games, Zhang laughed: "I think they would feel pressured.

"A large-scale performance like this is really hard, so we also did our research on previous ceremonies. At least in the use of multimedia, I assume London could not surpass our level such a short time [from now]. They might not be able to make it in several years," Zhang said.

"But London might have other creative ideas. We can each have our own tour de force. I wish the London Olympics a success," Zhang said.

After a moving opening, the closing ceremony, Zhang revealed, would focus on presenting a cheerful atmosphere and would have many jubilant scenes. The crucial issue was to extinguish the Olympic flame.

"I wish I could get a good night's sleep, free of worries, but coming are the closing ceremony and the Paralympics. Our team never rested, we always kept moving," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)

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