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Opening ceremony surprises, excites

02/11/2013
Brandon Clemens
Lead Wet Ink Writer

The opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, held this year in Sochi, Russia, dazzled those who watched both at home and in Fisht Olympic Stadium, despite some technical misfires.

The United States telecast of the games on NBC began with a video introduction, showing various aspects of life in Russia.

“Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage narrated the glorified slideshow presentation that contained shots of Russian scenes such as majestic snowy mountains, glistening glasses of vodka being poured, matryoshka dolls being made and a beautiful view of a rainbow, which, considering controversy, probably wasn’t meant to represent gay pride.

The 22nd Winter Games were officially opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin to a stadium audience of more than 40,000 people.

The Russian performance, titled “Dreams of Russia,” began with a short film centered around a little girl named Lyubov, the Russian word for love, reciting the Russian alphabet. As each letter was said, images of various historical Russian figures or landmarks appeared on screen.

Then Lyubov flew through the air in her dreams, nine floats of various Russian landscapes passed below her. The whole sequence was as mind-bending as any great piece of Russian theatre.

Next, the most talked-about moment of the ceremony took place when five large, animatronic snowflakes were lowered into the stadium. However, when the five snowflakes began to slowly transform into the Olympic rings, one snowflake did nothing but remain a snowflake.

The malfunction was not telecast on Russian television, according to Time magazine. A clip from rehearsal was played instead.

More upsetting than the technical malfunction was ceremony producer Konstantin Ernst’s limited portrayal of Russia’s history in a segment that seemed to borrow thematically from 2012’s London opening ceremony.

The segment was meant to show a condensed version of Russia’s 1,000-plus-year history. However, the producers deemed the 1917 Russian Revolution an unnecessary piece of their country’s history.

Furthermore, the country’s entire Soviet history was condensed into a single sculpture depicting the Soviet Union symbol of a hand holding a sickle.

Next came the Olympian athlete parade. As each country’s team entered the stadium, a map of their respective country was projected.

Then the most iconic moment of any Olympics began as the torch was carried into the stadium, and the cauldron was lit, symbolically beginning the games.

This was followed by what the Los Angeles Times referred to as “a massive fireworks show in Sochi’s Olympic Park that reportedly set off car alarms and rattled windows.”

With the exception of the historical omissions and the technical error, the majority of critical viewers had relatively positive remarks about the ceremony as a whole, albeit it fewer than in ceremonies past.

But Alex Iseman (senior, communications media) said that he was wholly unimpressed by the “chaotic” ceremony.

“It actually scared me to think about the planning of it,” said Iseman. “It was too overwhelming for me to enjoy.”

Although Alex Richardson (sophomore, communications media) didn’t get a chance to watch the ceremony, he said he thinks that the ceremonies are at their best when they reflect the nation hosting the games.

“A lot of them focus on world unity, which is great,” Richardson said, “but I feel like we should acknowledge and be proud of the hosting country.”

But, based on ratings information, Richardson was just one of the many who failed to tune in to NBC’s broadcast. According to Deadline.com, the ceremony viewership numbers dropped a significant 8 percent from the 2010 Winter Olympics ceremony in Vancouver.

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