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Guerrilla: The Taking Of Patty Hearst Review

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Using interviews with ex-members of US terrorist group the Symbionese Liberation Army, vintage media coverage and pointed commentary, this documentary avoids the issue of whether kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst genuinely converted to the SLA's cause, concentrating instead on the extraordinary mindset of a divided America in which Hearst and her captors became famous.

★★★★

Coming after Patty Hearst's own book and Paul Schrader's movie version, which detailed her version of events, this tells a bigger story. Robert Stone uses interviews with Russ Little and Mike Bortin, SLA members not involved in the kidnapping, and wittily ends with a clip of Hearst doing a bland interview on UK TV, cutting her off after the preliminaries.

An extraordinary amount of news footage is unearthed, covering not only high-profile incidents but also the early media circus. The irony is that the SLA got what they wanted (publicity) on such a huge scale, they didn't know what to do with it. Stone shows the consequences of bizarre stunts like forcing Patty's father Randolph Hearst to underwrite a massive free food drive (a messy riot), and the stunning ineptitude of the FBI and police.

As with many '70s documents, some cringe moments feature hair and clothes, but a current of 'what on Earth were they thinking?' underruns the whole story.

A fascinating scrapbook, impressively assembled, which retells a remarkable story and evokes very strange times.

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