“Apples from the Desert” (“Tapuchim min Hamidbar”)
Israeli Film and the Reality of Life
I am constantly amazed at the new Israeli cinema as it takes on subjects that are so relevant to life there today. Here we meet Rebecca Abarbanel who lives in Jerusalem and is the only daughter of an Orthodox Jewish family. (Abarbanel was one of the great Torah scholars and commentators and this gives us an idea about the kind family she comes from).
Rebecca is not happy with the haredi lifestyle in which she lives and becomes interested in the secular world more and more. One day she runs away with a young man to a kibbutz in the desert.
At first viewing this seems to be a film about the flight of a young woman from the haredi lifestyle but it is about what drove her away: was it her home life or the haredi life? And, can a critique of the home life be separated from a critique of haredi life?
The movie is much deeper than that. The woman flees to a kibbutz that is the opposite of what she knew: she not only has freedom of choice, but freedom of thought. Science is taught as the opposite of religious belief. It is the symbolism in the film that makes it so interesting and important. The apple in history has always been an important symbol and here it represents an awakening that is not just sexual but defying the law not to eat from the forbidden tree.