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Expert Comment: 2014 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony

0154 Dr Jacqui Miller Tuesday 25 February 2014

Dr Jacqui Miller, Senior Lecturer in Media at Liverpool Hope, looks at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which took place at the weekend.

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were preceded by controversy, surrounding accusations of socially repressive Russian practices, fears of terrorism, and the fact that at $51 billion dollars, these were the most costly Winter Olympics to date. In fact, the fears were unfounded; the New York Daily News pronounced the games 'worth every rouble', whilst British viewers basked in the best medals result since the Winter Olympics began in 1924.

The success and positive ambience of the games was captured in the closing ceremony. This cinematic experience drew on high definition techniques to give an immersive effect even when watched on a small screen. Viewers felt themselves to be literally transported into a shared mythological world, counterpointed by the hyper-real images of specific national sporting achievement. All was contextualised by Russian culture, from the soundtrack to the fairy tale imagery, and it was an intriguing cerebral game to spot motifs, such as the Faberge 'egg hunt'.

The opening ceremony of the British Olympic Games 2012 might have celebrated the richness of British popular culture, but from the opening notes of Mussorgsky's Pictures From An Exhibition, the three hour Russian closing ceremony was a salutary reminder that from literature (Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn), to ballet Bolshoi and Kirov), to music (Rachmaninov, as well as cinema soundtracks) to science (Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space), Russia has left the world an indelible and matchless cultural legacy.

Moreover, although there may have been long-standing political tensions between East and West, modern culture was proved to be a place of reconciliation; even in the depths of the Cold War, the soundtracks for some of the best loved Hollywood films were scored by the Russian composer, Dimintri Tiomkin.

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