BY: ALEX VILLANEDA
It’s hard enough sometimes for a professor with a Ph.D. to get one projector in a classroom to properly show their PowerPoint. Imagine running over one hundred projectors in time with the movements of hundreds of dancers to create a world that not only have to mesmerize the viewer, but also present thousands of years of Russian history. This was the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Despite the technical complexity, there was only one glitch throughout the whole ceremony--one of five giant snowflakes intended to transform into the Olympic rings, failed to do so.
The program kicked off with the recitation of the Cyrillic Alphabet by an 11-year-old girl named Liza Temnikova. Each letter was accompanied by the names of Significant Russian accomplishments or people like Vladimir Nabokov, Wassily Kandinsky, and Yuri Gagarin.
The order for the parade of Olympian athletes was determined by the Cyrillic Alphabet for a nice change of pace. As each country entered, its map was projected over the entrance. It was made to seem as if they were entering from the heart of their individual countries.
The use of the projectors was itself a highlight of the ceremony. According to the Washington Post, these were “The most expensive Games ever, at an estimated $50 billion.” It was money well spent. The projectors were used to transform a plain stage into a time machine as they passed through years of Russian history.
Viewers saw the floor transform into a rippling swirling ocean surrounding an armada of Peter the Great’s famed ships. Performers marched perfectly in time with the projections completing the feeling that one was actually watching ships cutting through the waves. This scene then led to the construction of St. Petersburg with performers dancing through the city streets as the floor beneath them changed from section to section of the city seamlessly allowing viewers to feel as if they themselves were exploring the city.
This was followed by scenes acted out from Leo Tolstoy’s novel, "War and Peace", and the creation of the Russian Empire as we know it today.
One thing that would have improved the ceremony: better commentators. NBC’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira failed to identify symbols used throughout the ceremony that would not be obvious to those without knowledge of Russian history. At one point, Vieira remarked that if the viewer wanted to learn more, they should google it.
All in all, the ceremony was beautifully put together and really showcased the culture and the long history of the Russian Empire. It was a great way to kick off what hopefully turns out to be a great Olympics.