A good beginning is a job half done. So it was for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
On the night of August 8, thousands of performers entertained an audience of 91,000 in the National Stadium (Bird's Nest) with highlights from China's brilliant history and splendid culture.
Photo taken on Aug. 8 shows the scene of the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, Beijing, capital of China on Aug. 8, 2008. The 29th summer Olympic Games opened at 20:00 Beijing time on Friday.
At the start of the evening, 2,008 drummers welcomed the audience with a saying from Confucius: "Friends have come from afar, how happy we are!" Similar uniquely Chinese elements appeared throughout the performance as a vast scroll unfolded across the stadium's floor. Projections of cliff paintings, pottery and bronze work dissolved into an ink-and-wash painting as a performing group dressed in black to represent ink on paper moved across the giant scroll. The ceremony combined state-of-the-art technology with strong images from Chinese myths, history and civilization, ranging from ancient Chinese characters and ink paintings to computer keyboards and astronauts.
Three-thousand performers representing Confucius' disciples chanted a line from The Analects of Confucius: "All men under heaven are brothers." In the meantime, 897 performers shrouded in Chinese characters weaved words across the stadium, creating the Chinese character "he", representing peace and harmony.
To bring the various scenes to life, artistic director Zhang Yimou used a total of 14,000 performers. "I had never led such a huge team, with so many performers, staff and volunteers," says Zhang. "You may not be able to see their faces clearly in this grand stadium…but I know how hard every person has worked for tonight."
There were also stunning fireworks let off across the capital throughout the ceremony. The pyrotechnics helped represent one of the ceremony's main themes: the four great inventions of ancient China. Gunpowder, papermaking, movable type printing and the compass all made an appearance during the show.
From the quietness of paper and painting, the ceremony moved on to a depiction of the Silk Road, the conduit of China's first links with the Western world.