Shots of mountains, buildings, athletes, and... hold on, this voice over is going on a bit longer than expected. I'm paraphrasing here, but I'm pretty sure he just said "We start in the baroque splendor of embattled Torino" then something about flags uniting, a little history lesson about it once being the capitol of Italy... this just isn't ending!
"2500 athletes come to, blah, blah, blah" and, I'm not kidding you, "One who competes not for money, but LOVE!" There's also a 24 year old Swedish sensation who already has a holiday named for her and, later, I'm quite sure I heard the phrase "ailing body stitched together by 12 surgeries." about someone. Can that be right?
We move to the "American mosaic" -- "the royalty of American figure skating return!" Who the hell wrote this stuff? Someone else's motto is "Live free or die!" FINALLY, the wrap up. "Italy was born... resistance has flourished... majesty and sanctity... succulent style (this is beyond painful)... greatness is born of fearless visions and unconditional devotion...
(SWELLING MUSIC) "In the Alpine heights the world comes to hear stories. Old. And new. The stories. OF TORINO.
Ahem, after, apparently, a half-hour of profiles of American athletes. There's a lengthy interview with Michelle Kwan. The most interesting part is that the interviewer is, apparently, a woman, but she sounds EXACTLY like a man!
It's disconcerting and I miss most of the interview. I did manage to hear that Michelle has hip problems, back problems, a groin pull, and will be using, gasp, Techno music in her short program.
This is followed by some extremely boring coverage of the first two training days of the downhill skiers. Then, an interview with "The cover boy of the Olympic games, Bode Miller." He's the guy who claimed he skis "wasted." He backpedals. I think he's kinda drunk. Lamest exchange ever:
"How do you put a finger on that?"
"I don't have to. That's what's good about being me. You have to put a finger on it."
"But if I put a finger on it, you get angry"
Are they even talking about skiing anymore? Okay, I'll spare us all and stop this madness until the actual ceremonies begin... at 9 o'clock.
Ahhh. The stadium is bathed in red light. A lone man, holding a giant hammer and standing in front of a giant anvil. It's Italian gymnast, Yuri Chechi , and... okay, it looks kind of like he's wearing a welder's helmet. He swings and a massive ball of flame erupts! I guess that explains the helmet.
Music swells and dancers and skaters stream into the stadium. Everyone's dressed in sleek unitard-type things. They do some beautiful, intricate dancing, some look almost like gymnasts. There's almost a Busby Berkley look in the overhead shots. Only prettier.
The hammer guy is really in full swing now and suddenly roller bladers come zooming in. They have these weird things on their heads and look almost like the stormtroopers from Star Wars. They're zooming around and -- OH! FLAMES ARE SHOOTING OUT OF THEIR HEADS!
Sorry. I got excited for a minute. I probably should have seen that coming after the thing with the welding mask. But it looks really cool. They dim the lights and everyone's on fire. The overhead shots are gorgeous.
Next up is an Alpine dance number. At first I thought those horns were giant smoking pipes. The music is lovely and the dancers very good. People dressed as trees come out and surround the dancers. Rather disconcerting is the fact that there are several large, plastic cows being pulled around the ice. But some of the dancers are wearing cute white costumes with black cow spots. I'm liking this more and more!
Next comes the flag and the bigwigs -- the IOC President and the President of Italy. Berlusconi is not in attendance. Also Italy's past Olympians wearing costumes designed by Armani. Soldiers parade in for raising the flag. A nine year old girl sings the anthem and it's divine. Then trumpets, an orchestra, and a choir all join in. Okay, I'm not Italian, but I'm getting a little choked up.
Next is a dance number where they form the double X for the games. Some other people stream in wearing all different colors. Okay, they're forming some shape...I don't know what it is... a man swinging his arm? Is it a hammering motif? Puffs of smoke out of the mouth?
I'm very confused -- OH! They're forming a guy skiing!! It all makes sense now. Very cool! It's amazing -- they're forming a guy skiing, in motion! I still don't get why he was smoking, though. Then they shoot silver stuff all over the place and... here come the skaters with their heads on fire again! Great stuff.
Finally, dancers converge in the shape of the Olympic rings. Then they suddenly start ascending into the sky. The dancers drop from the sky and the rings are raised. Fireworks start shooting out of them.
Next is the parade of nations. There's not much to say about it. Inexplicably, they're playing quite a bit of '70s pop. Everyone looks really happy. Really, the only thing that can be left is the torch, right? I'm becoming a bit concerned about that torch. I hope it made it there okay.
Oops, Denmark just marched in and the newscasters had to mention the cartoon controversy. They also won't shut up about how the countries are marching into the stadium alphabetically -- but by the Italian alphabet! Okay, I think we have our heads around that idea already. Stop.
The parade is taking forever, but I really do love seeing the countries that only have two or three people there. The newscasters have finally noticed the pop, but they claim it's from the '80s. All I know is that I definitely heard K.C. and the Sunshine Band at one point. Bob Costas hopes to hear Betty Davis Eyes. Wait! They're playing The Village People's Y.M.C.A. while the poor Slovakians are entering the stadium! That's definitely the '70s, right?
At last, the torch! But first, an ancient tradition. A choreographed waving of the flags representing all the regions of Italy. This is actually very beautiful. The colors and costumes are astounding. And now a model rising out of a giant seashell? Ah. Apparently a re-enactment of The Birth of Venus.
Now this whole part is just amazing. Giant balloon floating around with dancers dangling from them. Dancers are all over the stadium floor wearing incredible costumes and people are dangling from the sky, doing all sorts of... fluid movements of some sort. It all ended with fireworks. No, not ended! A segue into the future. Techno music, more specatcular dancing and costumes. I suspect there's some sort of meaning involved.
Now a red race car is coming out! It's a Ferrari and it's doing donuts and stuff. I suspect fire will be involved shortly... nope. Fireworks again. I suspected flames shooting out of the back of the car. I'm vaguely disappointed.
Now speeches by the Presidents! Are they stalling because the torch is in peril? Are they somewhere wrestling it away from anarchists? C'mon with the torch already! One of the guys just told the athletes to refuse doping. I think I heard Bode Miller booing.
Wait! Here it is. They just opened the games! Does this mean the torch at long last? Dare I hope? Who will be the mystery person carrying it? Here comes the Olympic flag. Is it just me, or have there been an inordinate amount of flags involved? Sophia Loren is carrying it in front. She is struttin' it and still looks great!
Now the Olympic hymn?!? I don't remember this before! I know I said I was looking forward to the pomp, but this is getting a bit much. I'm starting to wonder if I've ever watched the whole thing before. I know I have. I must have. Perhaps I just spend the intervening years suppressing the memories of the boring bits.
Oh god, oh god... I'm afraid to hope... there's, there's singing and, and movement and... acrobats?!? On rope. Forming the shape of a dove. I'm sure it's lovely and impressive but, honestly, unless one of them pulls the torch out of his ass, I don't want to see it.
SHIT! It's official!! They hate me. A peace poem! A peace poem, get this, read by YOKO ONO! And now... Peter Gabriel singing Imagine. I know. I should be moved. I just... can't. I'm a bad person. Why can't it be over? Shouldn't it have been over by now?
IT'S BEEN OVER THREE AND A HALF HOURS WHERE'S THE DAMNED TORCH!!!
Sorry. Just a momentary... ahem. I'm fine now. Really. I'll get through this. I mean, we will. We'll get through it together (are you still reading?).
It's here! The torch, I swear! I'm not hallucinating. The torch is in the stadium. I feel like sobbing. A man has it. He then hands it off to four men. They're jogging... in a group, yes... yes... getting closer... it's passed to another man... I don't even care who anyone is anymore... some woman has it now... now to the mystery torch bearer... Stephane Bellmundo? I'm sorry. I can't look it up. I'm tired. Very tired. She's someone famous and special and remarkably talented and... ahhhhh... she's done it. The cauldron is lit. I love that woman.
They're promising a final surprise after the commercial, but I'm done people. I'm spent. I'm overcome. It was... it was glorious. Truly. You shoulda seen it...