Hanna's War

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Hanna's War
Hanna's War.jpg
VHS cover
Directed byMenahem Golan
Screenplay byMenahem Golan
Stanley Mann
Based onThe Diaries Of Hanna Senesh
A Great Wind Cometh
by Yoel Palgi
Produced byYoram Globus
Menahem Golan
CinematographyElemér Ragályi
Edited byAlain Jakubowicz
Dory Lubliner
Music byDov Seltzer
Distributed byCannon Films
Release date
23 November 1988
Running time
148 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$ 20,000,000
Box office$139,796 (USA)[1]

Hanna's War is a 1988 film co-written and directed by Menahem Golan. The film is based on The Diaries of Hanna Senesh and the biographical novel A Great Wind Cometh by Yoel Palgi. It is a biopic detailing the true story of Hannah Szenes.


Hannah Senesh was a Hungarian schoolgirl with poetic aspirations. In the face of rising anti-Semitic tensions in Budapest, Hanna leaves her mother Katalin (Ellen Burstyn) and family behind to work on a kibbutz in then Palestine. There she is recruited by the British Air Force (RAF) for a dangerous mission: The RAF will train volunteers and parachute them over their native lands if they agree to help downed fliers escape from enemy territory. Realising it could be a suicide mission, Hanna accepts the assignment because she feels her family, still alive in Budapest, may soon be taken to the death camps by the Nazis. During her mission, Hanna is captured by the Nazis and ultimately undergoes a long, torturous interrogation process overseen by Captain Thomas Rosza. Her courage and indomitable will in the face of torture, fear and death will make her an inspiration to the allies and the world.

Principal cast[edit]

Actor Role
Ellen Burstyn Katalin
Maruschka Detmers Hanna
Anthony Andrews McCormack
Donald Pleasence Captain Thomas Rosza
David Warner Captain Julian Simon
Vincent Riotta Yoel
Avi Korein Eliyahu Golomb
Ingrid Pitt Margit
John Stride Dr. Komoly
Shimon Finkel David Ben-Gurion


The film was shot on location in Israel and Hungary.[2] Early in development, Helena Bonham Carter was cast as Hanna with Peter Weir signing on as director. Due to delays in filming, Carter and Weir dropped out.[3]

Critical Reception[edit]

The critical reception to the film was mixed. The Los Angeles Times gave the film a negative review, critiquing Ellen Burstyn's looks, rather than her performance.[4] Another negative review came from Time Out who said "The bad script is based on a stale polemic, which produces an expensive and self-righteous piece of propaganda."[5] Variety was more positive saying "Menahem Golan’s version, heroes and villains are easily distinguished, characters are respectfully observed and admired, or duly abhorred and discredited, and no time is spent dwelling on psychological niceties."[6] Walter Goodman of The New York Times praised the supporting performances of Donald Pleasence and David Warner, but was critical of Anthony Andrews, "The villains provide what zest there is: Donald Pleasence, doing his nutty number as a sadist with a soft streak (I love a young girl's fingernails. Yours were so pretty.) and David Warner as the Uriah Heep of Hungarian Fascists (This will be the last time you will see one another - and I mean the last time). Anthony Andrews, playing a tough Scottish officer and gentleman, has the good luck to be eliminated fairly early.[7]

DVD and VHS availability[edit]

Although the film has not been released on DVD, the VHS version is available for sale at sites such as Amazon.com.[8]


  1. ^ Hanna's War at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Filming & Production". imdb.
  3. ^ Brode, Douglas (2020). From Hell To Hollywood: An Encyclopedia of World War II Films Volume 2.
  4. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1988-11-23). "Screen: 'Hanna's War' Gives Trite Reading of a Saga That Deserves Better". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  5. ^ Out, Time. "Hanna's War". Time Out. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  6. ^ Variety Staff (1987-12-31). "Hanna's War". Variety. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  7. ^ Goodman, Walter (1988-11-23). "Review/Film; A Woman's Martyrdom". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  8. ^ Hanna's War Video. ASIN 6301269799.

External links[edit]