Leave it to Roger Ebert to compare the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics to the Nazi propaganda doc Triumph of the Will. In a blog entry, Ebert wrote in part: "The closest sight I have seen to Friday night's spectacle, and I mean this objectively, not with disrespect, is the sight of all those Germans marching wave upon wave before Hitler in 'Triumph of the Will.'"

In context, Ebert was addressing the "astonishing" $300 million show featuring "thousands of painstakingly drilled performers" who had spent "four months in rehearsal. Eight hours a day." His fascinating article includes thoughts on the opening ceremony, the challenge for any nation to ever equal the ceremony, much less surpass it in spectacle, the individual vs. the collective, and China's capitalist leanings.

At heart, of course, Ebert is a film critic, and he notes the direction of Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers) and the costumes designed by Eiko Ishioka (Mishima, The Fall). Triumph of the Will may still be fresh in his mind as a point of comparison because he wrote extensively about it again in June as one of his "Great Movies."

I played sports before movies lured me to the dark side, so when I was younger I related to the Olympics as a budding athlete. That was a long time ago, but I did watch a little Olympic badminton * and cycling before heading out to see movies this weekend. Have the Olympics distracted you from movie watching?

* UPDATE: Spelling corrected and link added. Thanks to ML for the gently-worded comment.