Saturday, February 11, 2006

MUMMIES! And Italians.

Little known fact about Abigail:
Interested in Egypt and its mummies.
My favorite section of natural history museums is almost always mummies, followed closely by animal tableaus, including dinosaurs. I frickin' love Egypt. I don't know why. I always have been fascinated.
That's why I have been gung ho about this new tomb discovery in the Valley of the Kings. New mummies! New treasures! New hieroglyphics! I hope they learn a ton. I want to go there and see for myself. I want to go to the Pyramids and see the Sphinx.
Like I said, I have no idea why I'm so interested in Egypt; my second-favorite Hercules Poirot is Death on the Nile. My favorite kids' books were often about mummies. I will watch The Mummy and The Mummy Returns countless times, even if they are a little dumb. Stargate rules. There's a dark corner of the Chicago Field Museum with a whole bunch of animal mummies, and I always spend at least ten minutes there. It's not like I love history, I just seem to have picked up that period of interest. Part of it is probably their religious mythology. Egypt had a very complex god system, and I always liked learning about that. Then there was the Sesame Street Goes to the Metropolitan Museum special, when Big Bird found a little Egyptian prince trapped in there. That seemed pretty awesome. So, Egypt. Who knew?

I'm also obsessed with Greek mythology, which is what made the Athens Olympics opening ceremonies so good to me. And that segues into...
Commentary on the Torino opening ceremonies.
To be brutally honest, the first half of the ceremonies was ridiculous. It didn't look exciting or cohesive from any angle, and frankly with the way some of the scenes were lit I was surprised anyone in the crowd could see what was going on...the reasonably fun stuff with the cows and the folk dancing was dimly lit indeed. The transitions between sections were weak, and far too much time was given to walking, as in the segment with the model and the Italian flag. The whole thing lacked coherence and unity, to pull out my rhetoric terms. The skier of many people was interesting, but again, note that it was the best lit of anything that went on in the first half.
The parade of nations is always fun, but the music choice was inept. American pop/disco, particularly songs that aren't that interesting but that stick out so glaringly, was not the way to go. The songs even sort of overrode the whole point, which was the athletes coming in to glory. There were a few exceptions, but it was much more interesting and unique when the Italian pop music was playing. Why not play a medley of tunes from different countries?
The second half of the ceremonies, the Renaissance to Baroque section particularly, was much more interesting visually and had more transitional effects. And, of course, Pavarotti is always cool. I liked the race car, but did anyone else feel like the actual use of the race car was sort of mundane, and brought back that poor transitioning from the first segment? They went from this exciting building of the car, to making rings, but the car was sort of drifting around and looked like the driver had no idea what to do but sit there and make smoke, and then limp onto the ramp.
In evaluation, the ceremonies spent too much time on hyper-technical gadgetry and not enough on choreography and symbolism that would translate well to a large crowd, and on the so-important segment segues. Some moments that could be genuinely touching were lost on a too-large canvas with too-small tools. I had favorite parts, to be sure, such as the Birth of Venus, the little girl singing Italy's anthem (a simple and more appropriate use of the vast, white space), and the dancing of Bolle (weird, but in a comprehensible way, though he, too, sometimes looked like he had no idea where to go next). But for a ceremony entitled "Rhythm, Passion, and Speed," the results felt like none of the three to this viewer.
Torino, I still love you.
Oh! And best dressed? The English. Way to go!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the ski-jumper-of-many-people, too. Dave and I were sitting on the couch cracking jokes about the ceremonies in general and the ski jumper too, but I actually liked that part. "Oh! Oh, look! He's going to jump!!!" His chest kind of exploded at the end, though, because the people forming his shirt ran a little too slowly.

The Formula 1 Ferrari display was just...lame. So much potential in the vehicle, and so sadly constrained. It was embarassing to see a car like that doing donuts. I don't know how they could have shown it off safely in that space, though.


Abs said...

I agree with you completely. I don't like cracking jokes during a solemn and exciting ceremony, but...well...too many people looked like they had no idea where they were supposed to be.
I was hoping the Ferrari would make the Olympic rings. That would have been something.