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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Blessed Is the Match
Directed by Roberta Grossman
New Video Group 01/09 DVD/VHS Documentary
Not Rated

Hannah Senesh was born into a Jewish family in Hungary. Her father was a well-known and successful playwright who died at the age of 33. As a result, Hannah formed very close bonds with her mother and older brother. She started writing poetry at an early age and by adolescence was also using her diary as a means of expression. Sent to a school populated mainly be Christian girls, Hannah bristled when she encountered anti-Semitism for the first time. She embraced Zionism wholeheartedly and went to Palestine in the early 1940s to work at an agriculture school. She joined a kibbutz and continued to write poetry.

Fearful for her mother's safety as Hitler and the Nazis spread their crusade against the Jews across Europe, Hannah volunteered to join a military rescue mission for Jews in Hungary, coordinated by the British and consisting of 31 brave men and women. They parachuted behind enemy lines. She was captured by Hungarian police and taken to a prison in Budapest. It lifted her spirits when her mother made contact with her. But after being tortured, Hannah Senesh was executed in 1944 just before the end of the war. Hannah Senesh's remains were brought back to Israel in 1950, and she was buried in the military cemetary on Mount Herzl.

Roberta Grossman (500 Nations) is the producer and director of this documentary about a sensitive and smart young woman who became a resistance fighter and modern-day Joan of Arc. Using Hannah Senesh's diaries, letters and poems, Grossman conveys her idealism and courage in the face of the twisted power of the Nazi regime and its many supporters in Europe. There are also interviews and eye-witness accounts by classmates, workers on the kibbutz, members of the military rescue mission, women who were in prison with her, historian Sir Martin Gilbert, and former Israeli President Shimon Peres. A keen sense of her presence is delivered by the use of 1,300 never-before-seen photographs and dramatic re-enactments of certain segments of her life. The documentary is narrated by Joan Allen.


Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes; interviews; and a Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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