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Vincent Capone

The Chinese Reviews Are In: London Opening Ceremonies "Beautiful," But Can't Match Beijing

The games of the 30th Olympiad opened with a grand ceremony titled “Isles of Wonder,” created by the English film director Danny Boyle, best known for his work on the films Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later. Boyle acknowledged the sheer extravagance and synchronization of the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony, having been quoted as saying, “you can’t get bigger than Beijing.” With that in mind, he set out to create a ceremony that would identify his motherland and its place within the modern world. 

Inevitably, commentators and audiences alike compared the opening ceremonies in London to the overwhelming, awe-inspiring extravaganza in Beijing four years ago.  

Green pastures? Not in Beijing

The Chinese mainstream media had high regards for the London ceremonies. The China Daily applauded the opening, describing it as a “kaleidoscopic pageant” which set the London Games rolling. Zhuang Chen of BBC Chinese Service (Radio 4) wrote that the opening ceremony has become a very hot topic on China’s vibrant cyber sphere. The Chinese official Wang Ning, director of the Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, said he would give 90 out of 100 marks to Britain, which is quite high. He liked the innovative ways the ceremony illustrated British culture, its influence and also its new image … Chinese audiences were also fascinated with the human side of the opening ceremony, which was not a strength of the ceremonies at Beijing four years ago.” 

But how was the opening ceremony viewed by Chinese citizens, at least those writing on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, four years after the unbelievable performance in Beijing? 

Some netizens praised the spirit of the Olympics expressed in the opening ceremony. @洋山球球 wrote, “London’s opening ceremony was refreshing. Concise, simple, and focused on the environment  as the theme of this opening ceremony. Awesome.” @M徘徊二点五次元路口 tweeted, “This western Olympic Opening Ceremony is very beautiful. I bow down.”

Others, however, preferred the opening ceremonies by the home team. @黄祯17岁 expressed, “London’s Olympic opening ceremony was completely weak compared to Beijing’s.” Some netizens attribute this to London not putting in as much money as Beijing did. @龙舞七天 pointed out, “According to reports, the London Opening Ceremony cost around $41,910,000, which is 1/300th less than that of the Beijing ceremony ($15 billion).” @Johoshua tweeted, “Although London was cheaper and more environmentally friendly, Beijing was much more creative than London. After all, more money means more power.” 

Regardless of whether London or Beijing wins, some are already wondering about 2016 in Rio. @常有理他妈 tweets, “Speaking of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, it’s a carnival. The next one in Brazil should be even crazier.” 

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Vincent Capone

  • markuc

    There are similarities between but to sum it up briefly.
    - The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was a celebration of history and humanity. Any human being can appreciate its universal beauty.
    - The London Olympics Opening Ceremony was a celebration of British influences on the world. You have to really British (or really heavily influenced by the British) to understand what’s going on, especially the selection of music.

  • markuc

    There are similarities between but to sum it up briefly.
    - The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was a celebration of history and humanity. Any human being can appreciate its universal beauty.
    - The London Olympics Opening Ceremony was a celebration of British influences on the world. You have to really British (or really heavily influenced by the British) to understand what’s going on, especially the selection of music.

  • Lotus

    The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was about perfection and face, no matter what the cost. London chose honesty, humanity, inclusiveness. Beijing ignored the ugly bits of its history; London included them. Beijing felt the child singer selected was not pretty enough, so hid her in the background, instead placing a ‘pretty’ child lip syncing on centre stage. London had the children’s deaf and hearing impaired choir singing. Beijing created a spectacle of what it wanted to be seen as, London showed a much closer image of what it really is.

  • Lotus

    The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was about perfection and face, no matter what the cost. London chose honesty, humanity, inclusiveness. Beijing ignored the ugly bits of its history; London included them. Beijing felt the child singer selected was not pretty enough, so hid her in the background, instead placing a ‘pretty’ child lip syncing on centre stage. London had the children’s deaf and hearing impaired choir singing. Beijing created a spectacle of what it wanted to be seen as, London showed a much closer image of what it really is.