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This New Apple iPad Ad Uses "Dead Poets Society," Whitman To Ask "What Will Your Verse Be?"

An earnest Robin Williams voiceover from the 1989 film asks what your verse will be in the powerful play of life.

At the 1990 Golden Globes, Dead Poets Society was nominated for Best Picture (Drama), Best Director (Peter Weir), Best Screenplay (Tom Schulman) and Best Actor (Robin Williams). Twenty-four years later, Apple showcased its newest ad campaign for the iPad Air during the Golden Globes using as its voiceover a poignant speech by Williams's character John Keating (the spot debuted Sunday during the NFL playoffs).

The speech, and ad copy goes:

"We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering--these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love--these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.' That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

The words, which position the device as a tool of creation, not just consumption, are paired with images of ocean wind turbines, marching bands, mountain rescue helicopters, club DJs, waterfalls, storm chasers, and hockey practice (?!), and the overall effect is such that you wouldn't be surprised next time you're at the Apple store to see some fanboy stand up on a desk and say, "O iPad, my iPad!"

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5 Comments

  • Wade Bond

    Quick an impatient youth did leave me in a sea of cold....now long stands before the mirror with strength stamina endurance....Old!

  • I noticed that too. It bothered me. The "what we stay alive for" quote from Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movie passages. What i-Pad doesn't understand is that these gadgets are like new and fancy "pens." But what makes the writer create beauty isn't dependent on how many gymnastics the "pen" can do. If it was so, Shakespeare couldn't have done his magic with a quill pen! The human heart is the ultimate "tool for creation" and i-Pad did not understand that in this ad. But it was nice to hear that wonderful quote, again!

  • what a shame you note specifically that the nominations were for a drama, peter weir and robin williams... and screenplay. there was a screenwriter. his name is tom schulman.