Film Review: Lemon Tree, Directed By Eran Riklis

Essay by macca11874College, Undergraduate March 2011

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Film Review: Lemon Tree, Directed By Eran Riklis


This review analyses the film the Lemon Tree, directed by the Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis. At one level the film explores the apparently never-ending Israeli-Arab border tension. At another level, however, the film is a richly-layered feminist allegory that complements the geopolitical approach. This review examines Riklis' messages and narrative, particularly its focus on the role of women. It commences with a brief overview of the film and of its plot.


Salma Zidane, a 45-year-old Palestinian woman, is the central character of Lemon Tree. Widowed for 10 years, Salma earns a meagre living from a lemon grove located on the Green Line separating Israel from the occupied territories of the West Bank. The grove has been in her family for 50 years. Her solitary life suddenly turns upside down when the Israeli Defence Minister, Israel Navon, moves into a fancy new house that abuts the grove.

Overnight, a watchtower is constructed and security guards and soldiers begin patrolling the property.

No sooner have Navon and his spouse, Mira, moved into the new house than Salma receives an official letter informing her that the grove poses a security threat from terrorists and must be uprooted. Thus begins an escalating war of words and wills. Ultimately, Salma takes the decision to the Israeli High Court and quite expectedly loses. Mira then moves out of the new house as a concrete wall is built between Salma's land and the Minister's house. A final camera shot reveals that the lemon trees have been cut down. Happy endings, as we're eventually told, are possible only in Hollywood.


Riklis designed the film to be essentially apolitical, focusing on character development rather than on exploring the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One...