Jonathan Glazer Directs a High-Flying, Acrobatic Ad for Apple

The famed director teams up with air dancer Inka Tiitto

It's been 20 years since Jonathan Glazer made Guinness "Surfer," one of the all-time classic commercials (and, coincidentally, the first spot I covered in depth for Adweek). Since then, the British-born director has made just three feature films—all highly acclaimed—and has continued to hone his filmmaking craft by working on eye-catching advertisements. 

The latest, which broke Wednesday night on British television, is for the Apple Watch. It stars Inka Tiitto, an air dancer and skydiver who creates flying choreographies in a wind tunnel. (You may remember her from Season 12 of America's Got Talent.) 

The 60-second spot shows Tiitto going for a run, using her Apple Watch. As she ascends a rocky hillside, a tremendous gust of wind lifts her clear off the path and into the sky—where she spins and tumbles through the air, fantastically, before crashing back to earth. 

Apple Watch Series 4 — Flight — Apple

Glazer and Tiitto worked on the choreography together. Glazer, ever the filmmaking technician, had to work out a full series of intricate movements for the camera as it tracked Tiitto. (Hopefully there's a BTS video on the way, much as Apple did with Spike Jonze's "Welcome Home" spot last year.) 

It's a bit of an esoteric way to promote the built-in cellular capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 4 (which allows you to do things like take calls and stream music without being tethered to the iPhone). But it certainly communicates the idea of freedom, which is captured in the end line. 

Glazer, 53, who is working on his next movie—a Holocaust film set in the Auschwitz concentration camp, which he's been working on for more than five years now—directed the Squarespace spot for the 2018 Super Bowl showing Keanu Reeves "surfing" on a motorcycle. 

He's also directed spots for Canon and Google Android in recent years. Going further back, his classic spots include Sony's "Paint," Stella Artois' "Ice Skating Priests" and Guinness' "Swim Black."

He broke through in the mid'90s with his revolutionary music videos, including Radiohead's "Street Spirit" and Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity."

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.