Thursday, August 07, 2008

Let The Games Begin

Tomorrow night marks the beginning of the Beijing Olympics. I previously wrote a post about all the different narratives that will be told in the press. And many of them are already being touted. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t see a story about the smog-filled sky or some crack down in the name of security.

But soon all the words change to images as hundreds of hours of coverage begin. NBC and it’s associated networks are going to constantly remind you that they are in China and you are not. They will do that with a barrage of pictures of the iconic features of Beijing and China. Here are a few images you can expect to see over and over again.

IMG_4249Birds Nest Stadium. The centerpiece of the Olympic construction effort is truly a unique and impressive structure. I posted a panorama of it here. This where the opening and closing ceremonies will take place. What was a construction entrance in the foreground is now a beautiful plaza tailor made for the television cameras.

IMG_4233Bubble Natatorium. Right next to the stadium in the Olympic Village, this enclosed aquatic facility is a trippy glass clad cube that looks like your watching Finding Nemo on acid. With Michael Phelps as a hometown hero, there will be a lot of coverage of the swimming events here.

IMG_3521Tienanmen Square. This plaza which was the site of the infamous protests in 1989 has the tomb of Mao in the center and is ringed with museums and government buildings. The Chinese are strictly limiting press opportunities here to avoid any embarrassment.

IMG_3547Portrait of Mao. With the giant portrait of Mao overlooking Tienanmen Square, expect plenty of establishing shots from here. Sensitive to the protests here, security will be ultra-tight. A "Free Tibet" banner over this picture would ruin the games for the Chinese.

IMG_3486Forbidden City. Just inside the gates off of Tienanmen Square is this mammoth palace complex. When I was there a year ago, it was getting a massive facelift for the games. Cameras can't do justice to the size and grandeur of this place.

P1000498Temple of Heaven. This ceremonial palace south of the Forbidden City is much more colorful and picturesque than the bi-chromatic main palace. The vast open expanse includes large orchards and is a popular place for kite flying. I would hope that this area gets plenty of exposure.

IMG_3284Great Wall. The Great Wall at its closest is about thirty miles north of Beijing, but it is an irresistible photo-op. It's more than a wall, it's a metaphor.

Terra Cotta SoldiersTerra Cotta Warriors. These relics from the dawn of Chinese history are really from Xian over 300 miles away, but their fierce visages beg to be shown off.

IMG_3947Smoggy Skylines. I hope NBC didn't bring a blimp because it's not going to be much use. Visibility in Beijing is measured in blocks, not miles. I harp and harp on this but the smog is going to be the big story of The Games. Let's hope for clear skies, but expect to see a lot of clever camera angles trying to hide the omnipresent haze.

I also expect to see shots of the many smaller temples around the city as well as images of the huge modern shopping centers and office buildings. Beijing is a city of history and contrasts. The hype and hysteria has been building for four years. Let's let the games begin.


Elizabeth said...

You pictures are amazing! I love the Birds Nest Stadium, I wonder how long it took to build? Maybe there's a documentary or something that shows how it was designed and constructed.
Do you keep in contact with anyone you met in China? I wonder what they think about all the chaos and controversy surrounding the games in their city.

Ed & Jeanne said...

Great shots. I'd like to see the Great Wall and the warriors but I'm not too keen about the smog. I've been to Southern China already so the rest of China is low on my 'to go' list.

Anonymous said...

We just watched the opening ceremony. It was spectacular.