A dutiful son lugs a heavy present from his mom in Apple's Chinese New Year film

Director Jia Zhangke used the iPhone X to capture a touching story about carrying home with you

Published On
Jan 25, 2019

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Every Chinese kid, no matter how old, knows to leave room in their suitcase when they visit their parents. There’s just no way to leave home again without arms and bags stuffed with food. As much as you can carry. More than you can carry.

Yes, cities have supermarkets that sell food. But it’s easier to just take it than argue. And sometimes, it’s the only way to get that taste of home. A quick stir fry, still hot, wrapped in plastic bags. Farm fresh vegetables. Jars of spices with no labels.

So that's the setup for Apple's Chinese New Year spot, starring a patient everyman. Like a good, obedient son, he accepts his mother’s gift without question, even though it’s a giant mystery bucket and he’s headed on a long trip via scooter and bus. Still, he dutifully ports the heavy container, despite the inconvenience and embarrassment.

The bucket takes a beating, jostled, dropped and rolled on its way to its final destination. But with weary hands, the son open it to find…sand. And it’s a good thing, too, because carefully packed in that sand are eggs from his mother’s chickens, each lovingly marked with heartfelt messages.

The spot is directed by noted Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke and, like Apple's last Chinese New Year ad, was filmed entirely on the iPhone XS. Also like the 2018 film, the phone never appears on camera. But it does play a key role in a pair of how-to videos, in which the director explains its depth control and slo-mo features.

“The Bucket” is running on broadcast channels and on digital and social, including Weibo, Youku, WeChat, Douyin and YouTube.