Blessed is the Match: the Life and Death of Hannah Senesh

[Screenshot]I missed this film when it was part of the Louisville Jewish Film Festival, so I took it in on DVD. I might take exception to the film’s spelling of Ms. Szenes’s family name, but can’t complain about its presentation of her life.

I had never heard of her before watching this movie, which is somewhat peculiar because (a) she’s apparently a major Jewish folk hero of the 20th century, and (b) she wrote the words to a song I learned decades ago (“Eli, Eli”). Since they’re mostly avoiding re-enactment in this work, her early life is told mostly in voiced-over stills, which are moderately static. That’s my only real complaint about the presentation of this material (and I don’t know how one might fix it). Her emigration to Palestine, training as a partisan, and growth as a poet are more vividly revealed, through a greater variety of presentation modes: not just stills but videos from the era, as well as modern interviews of her compatriots and readings of her poems. The rescue mission and arrst are the only sections of the story which involve significant quantities of re-enactment (a tool to be avoided in documentaries, IMO). and even there they stick well to primary sources.

I never quite know what to write about documentaries. They mostly are what they are and leave little opportunity for criticism. The choice of sources here appears to be well-balanced and complete, and the subject is well-worth learning about. That’s a success, in my eyes.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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