The heroine running with her sledgehammer
|Directed by||Ridley Scott|
|Distributed by||Apple Inc.|
|Release dates||January 22, 1984 (only nationally televised broadcast)|
|Running time||1 minute|
“1984” is an American television commercial which introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer. It was conceived by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and Lee Clow at Chiat\Day, produced by New York production company Fairbanks Films, and directed by Ridley Scott. English athlete Anya Major performed as the unnamed heroine and David Graham as Big Brother. It was televised nationally on January 22, 1984, during a break in the third quarter of the telecast of Super Bowl XVIII by CBS. It was also aired in 10 local outlets, including Twin Falls, Idaho, where Chiat\Day ran the ad on December 15, 1983, shortly before the 1:00 a.m. sign-off on KMVT, so that the advertisement qualified for 1983 advertising awards. After the ad’s premiere, widespread media coverage generated an estimated $5 million in “free” airtime. In one interpretation of the commercial, “1984” used the unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by her white tank top with a stylized line drawing of Apple’s Macintosh computer on it) as a means of saving humanity from “conformity” (Big Brother). These images were an allusion to George Orwell‘s noted novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which described a dystopian future ruled by a televised “Big Brother”. The estate of George Orwell and the television rightsholder to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four considered the commercial to be a copyright infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple and Chiat\Day in April 1984.
Originally a subject of contention within Apple, it has subsequently been called a watershed event and a masterpiece in advertising. In 1995, The Clio Awards added it to its Hall of Fame, and Advertising Age placed it on the top of its list of 50 greatest commercials.
The commercial opens with a dystopic, industrial setting in blue and grayish tones, showing a line of people (of ambiguous gender) marching in unison through a long tunnel monitored by a string of telescreens. This is in sharp contrast to the full-color shots of the nameless runner (Anya Major). She looks like a competitive track and field athlete, wearing an athletic “uniform” (bright orange athletic shorts, running shoes, a white tank top with a cubist picture of Apple’s Macintosh computer, a white sweat band on her left wrist, and a red one on her right), and is carrying a large brass-headed hammer. Rows of marching minions evoke the opening scenes of Metropolis.[original research?]
As she is chased by four police officers (presumably agents of the Thought Police) wearing black uniforms, protected by riot gear, helmets with visors covering their faces, and armed with large night sticks, she races towards a large screen with the image of a Big Brother-like figure (David Graham, also seen on the telescreens earlier) giving a speech:
Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology—where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!
The runner, now close to the screen, hurls the hammer towards it, right at the moment Big Brother announces, “we shall prevail!” In a flurry of light and smoke, the screen is destroyed, shocking the people watching the screen.
The commercial concludes with a portentous voiceover, accompanied by scrolling black text (in Apple’s early signature “Garamond” font); the hazy, whitish-blue aftermath of the cataclysmic event serves as the background. It reads:
On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”
The screen fades to black as the voiceover ends, and the rainbow Apple logo appears.