In 1944, 22-year-old Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe with a small group of Jewish volunteers from Palestine. Theirs was the only military rescue mission for Jews that occurred in World War II.
Narrated by Academy Award® winner Joan Allen, the multi-award-winning BLESSED IS THE MATCH follows the remarkable journey of this young Hungarian poet and diarist, paratrooper and resistance fighter. Told through Hannah s letters, diaries, and poems, her mother s memoirs, and the recollections of those who knew and loved her (including two of her fellow parachutists), the film traces her life from her childhood in Budapest to her time in British-controlled Palestine where she was drawn by the Kibbutz Movement that sought to build an independent Jewish state to her daring mission to rescue Jews in her native Hungary.
Both devastating and inspiring, BLESSED IS THE MATCH offers an intimate portrait of a singularly talented, courageous and complex girl who believed that one person could be a flame that burns brightly in even the darkest hours.
This harrowing documentary by director Roberta Grossman is like any meaningful history lesson about the Holocaust: extremely sad to watch but absolutely necessary. Pieced together from Hannah Senesh's letters and poems, and her mother's memoir, this very tragic story is narrated by Joan Allen, which is only the first great thing about this film. Blessed Is the Match
tells the tale of national heroine and martyr Hannah Senesh, who embarked on a deadly mission from her kibbutz in Palestine to save Hungarian Jews from extermination. Still photos of Senesh's family are interwoven with interviews with everyone from her nephews to her prison cellmate, Vera Latjai, to her fellow parachutist, Surika Braverman, to Shimon Peres, the president of Israel. A painfully clear picture is painted of how brave and generous this young girl of 22 must have been to have enrolled in the British Army as one of three women who parachuted into Yugoslavia to infiltrate German-occupied Hungary. The film traces her childhood in Budapest, marking important turning points in which Senesh dedicated her life to writing poetry. Even in the first grade, upon the death of her father, this precocious girl dictated elegiac poetry to her grandmother. While many documentaries drag on in childhood sections that feel irrelevant to the larger story, Blessed Is the Match
uses this time wisely. Leading up to 1938, when Senesh decides to leave her mother behind for Palestine, one learns how anti-Semitism informed her morality and fortified her dedication to the Jewish people. With more frequency, the voices of Hannah (Meri Roth), mother Catherine (Marcela Nohynkova), and brother Giora (Zdenek Kozakovic) replace the narrator's as the story of Hannah's short time in Europe grows increasingly dire. Moving and still images of the Polish and Hungarian ghettos spliced in here make one feel the urgency of Senesh's mission to save her mother. As letters are read back and forth between them, and the film spends its latter third focusing on their prison time together, there are moments that seem nearly unbearable. However, Hannah Senesh is called Israel's Joan of Arc for a reason. This film honors her having become a symbol of persistence and hope, and in this, many of her simple, yet beautiful patriotic poems are read throughout to strong effect. Blessed Is the Match
is a challenging, comprehensive look at the power of the individual and transcends war story to remind one of how caring humans do much to counteract atrocity. --Trinie Dalton