Posted by MataHarley on 9 August, 2008 at 9:06 am. 14 comments already!

Our world is filled daily with the battles, sniping, wars, debates and arguments that reflect our cultural and political differences. Absorbing that much negatively daily is hazardous to our health…. LOL.

So last night, I abandoned everything to take in the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Words fail… I was mesmerized, and brought to tears more than once with the magnificent beauty and precision of the presentations involving casts numbering 2008. I tell you now, if you missed this spectacular event, comb the broadcasts for a replay. You will not regret it.

Beijing pulled out all the stops and put on the most unique, and inspiring opening ceremony I’ve ever seen. One would expect the advanced fireworks from China. But the Bird’s Nest arena with it’s huge image projection screen, combined with the amazing technologies the Chinese used in each of their segments, was nothing less than jaw dropping. The thousands of citizen artists performed with such exacting precision, you would have thought they were computer driven. Between the manpower and technology, it took Buzby Berkley staging to unimaginable heights for visual entertainment. Even the traditional lighting of the torch, kept under wraps from the press, was awe inspiring.

China’s flag was carried by their 7’1″ basketball star, Yao Ming. At his side, marched 9 year old Lin Hao – a survivor of the earthquake in Sichuan province, and a hero in his own right. He lost 20 of his 30 classmates. He got out of the building, but returned not once, but twice, to rescue two more of his classmates. It was yet another visual of the contrasts (i.e. yin/yang) in the Asian culture.. the dark and the light, the dynamics of sound, the sweet or plaintive strains of the music, contrasted with the intense pounding of the ancient drums. And here, the tall and the short.

This picture from Sina English news site.

If China wanted to reintroduce itself to the world, it has certainly gotten off to a great start. Yes, the realities of their communist government and human rights abuses still remain. But for four and a half, all too brief, shining hours last night, they… as a collective nation… gave the world a gift of elegance, creativity, and the joy that can only come when athletes converge from all over the world to engage in civil and spirited competition.

Oh but the Olympic spirit could last 24/7.

Below a few samples of the presentations. However do not miss a visit to The Boston Globe’s pictorial today to see even more. Here’s more Olympics FAQs on the ceremony and venues.

And more photos at Beijing’s BIMC news site.

The dancer below is elevated on a mat, carefully borne by hundreds.