Giant on the move
Beijing opened the Paralympic Games in spectacular fashion on Saturday, the crowd at the Bird’s Nest roaring in approval at the lavish performance overseen by renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou.
Particularly well received was a moving ballet performance by a young girl who lost a leg in May’s massive Sichuan earthquake.
Check out the photos and click here to read Ben Blanchard’s view from the Bird’s Nest…
Reuters photos by Jason Lee (top two) and Claro Cortes IV (bottom)
Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who was celebrated across China as the angelic voice with the adorable face who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at Friday’s ceremony, was merely a photogenic stand-in for the real singer, who was rejected because of her appearance.
Organisers created a bit of a storm this morning when they revealed that parts of the spectacular firework display at the opening ceremony had been pre-recorded.
See this from Karolos Grohmann’s story on Reuters:
“Some footage had been produced before the opening ceremony to provide theatrical effect,” Beijing Games Executive Vice President Wang Wei told reporters.
Russell Boyce writes: Deciding on a picture of the day from the opening ceremony proved to be harder than I first thought.
The picture has to have the Olympic flame, it has to show the Olympic Rings, it has to show the stadium and part of the opening ceremoy itself and of course it has to show fireworks.
But as if having the Olympic cauldron lit by a “flying” gymnast Li Ning, suspended by wires high above the heads of 91,000 spectators, wasn’t proof enough that even gravity could be conquered by the world’s most populous nation, the government defied the elements as well.
To bring you the stunning choreography of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, Reuters photographers and photo editors do a complex dance of their own — and then a brutal Darwinian whittling down to select just the best and most iconic images to send to subscribers.The team shot a staggering 18,000 frames during the four hours of the ceremony. Only about 850 shots made it to the “wire” — our file of photos to customers. That’s just five percent. Less than a 10th of those were selected for our web slideshow and a typical newspaper subscriber might only print one two or three shots from the selection.
In a brutally competitive world like this, nothing can be left to chance.
One of our most experienced Olympic photographers and editors, Gary Hershorn, attended rehearsals of the opening ceremony in order to plot out key moments that simply had to be captured.
I’ve been deafened by the drums, astounded by the aerial acrobatics and blinded by the cornea-carving light show. The torch is lit in its giant cauldron hanging from the lip of the Bird’s Nest stadium and the 2008 Olympic Games have begun.
But what is it I’ve sat through for hours on a steamy Beijing evening? Was it mass-participation theatre, a pseudo-religious sanctification of sport, a kitsch ‘son et lumiere’ mangling of traditional Chinese art forms? A pyrotechnics-fuelled rock ballet? A modernised courtly pageant or a magnified pantomime of over-produced gimcrackery? The best of Cirque du Soleil-style wizardry or high camp showbiz?
I hesitated before posting this as for a variety of reasons we had very little time and a very dodgy mic to record our first Reuters podcast from the Beijing Games.
Still, in the spirit of blogging (and full disclosure) I thought I’d give you a chance to hear our first stab it it. I’m joined by my fellow reporters Simon Evans, Ossian Shine and Julian Linden for a chat abut opening ceremonies, the first medal events and the Michael Phelps.
I’d like to write that when I first arrived in Beijing on that freezing February morning in 2006, I spied, through the gloom and smog, the number 900 on the Olympic countdown clock that sits beside the airport highway.
I can’t do that, sadly — I don’t remember it, and I’m not even sure the countdown clocks were up by then — but that is, by my calculation, what it would have read on my first day in China.