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God and Satan in “The Apple”: A Film By Samira Makhmalbaf

October 17, 2013 | By

Samira Makhmalbaf, daughter of Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf not only made a stunning debut with her film “The Apple” but also established her own voice as a filmmaker at the age of 18.

March 3, 1999: The Iranian
Cast: Massoumeh Naderi, Zahra Naderi, Ghorban Ali Naderi, Azizeh Mohamadi
Written by: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Samira Makhmalbaf
Directed by: Samira Makhmalbaf
Running Time: 86 minutes

Shining rotten apple

A horrific film that must be seen

Samira Makhmalbaf, daughter of Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf not only made a stunning debut with her film “The Apple” but also established her own voice as a filmmaker at the age of 18.

“The Apple” follows the aftermath of a real life situation where a poor unemployed man with a blind wife had kept their two daughters, Ma’sumeh and Zahra confined to their home since birth. As a result their growth is retarded, they can barely speak or walk and they also haven’t bathed in years.

The neighbors alerted the welfare authorities who took the daughters into custody returning them on the condition that they be allowed to leave home and explore the outside world. Samira heard about the incident on a Wednesday and started shooting four days later on a Sunday. Real life came into contact with cinema and a beautiful mélange of documentary and fiction was created which focuses on the triumph of the human spirit and the thirst for knowledge and freedom.

In the words of Samira, “As you see in the film, these two girls at the beginning of the film look like animals. They just make sounds the same as animals. We shot this in 11 days, and during these 11 days, they changed more than during those 11 years, just because of having contact with us.”


The symbolism in “The Apple” is mostly reflective of a cry against oppression. Samira explains:

“The apple is like the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, it represents life and knowledge in Iranian poetry. We have a similar story in the Qor’an. But I actually found this element in the children’s life. Because while everyone was worried about the fate of these two girls, they were eating an apple, and truly enjoying it. So I decided to keep the symbol of the apple throughout the film.”

“Since the apple is a symbol of consciousness and social knowledge, its choice for the film’s title is apt and deliberate. From a symbolic angle, Apple is not just the tale of the imprisonment of two girls at the hands of their father but also symbolizes the tale of millions of Iranian girls and women, prisoners for two decades at the hands of the mullahs. The belief that women should be locked away before marriage to avoid learning about their own sexuality is represented allegorically by the titular fruit.”

“After my film “The Apple” many people questioned me about Iran. They wondered if Iran was really a country where thirteen-year-old girls could be locked up for eleven years and where an eighteen-year-old girl could have her first film at Cannes. I think Iranian women are like freshwater springs: the more pressure applied, the more force they show once they are freed.”

The Apple is not only one of the best films of 1999. It is an unforgettable experience.

Jean –Luc Godard: “The Apple is a different and wonderful film, and one can be hopeful that cinema is still alive.”

Editor’s Note: Swayam Ganguly’s maiden book Love, Films and Rock ‘n’ Roll was recently launched in Kolkata’s prestigious Oxford Bookstore. You can buy Love Films and Rock N Roll! from and

Swayam Ganguly's novel titled “Love Films and Rock n Roll” (Alchemy Publishers) has been released recently. His next upcoming novel “Good, Bad and Ugly” (Supernova Publishers) is slated for release soon.
All Posts of Swayam Ganguly

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