Patty Hearst [1988]

"Death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people!" declared the Symbionese Liberation Army, the domestic terrorist group that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and demanded a massive food program for the poor in exchange for her release. Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst examines this sensational case with a measured, sardonic view of every side; the SLA was born in the crucible of the Vietnam War and Kent State, but the documentary neither forgives nor condemns their actions (which include bank robbery, bombings, and murder). Instead, the SLA and the media bonanza that surrounded them become an astonishing petri dish of social and political trends that resonate with even more force today. Using interviews with reporters and surviving members of the SLA, footage from news reports and Hollywood movies, director Robert Stone (Radio Bikini) has crafted a smart, suspenseful thriller that mesmerizes even if you know the whole history. A superb documentary; the dvd is even better as it includes uncut footage from the security cameras of one of the bank robberies; the sentencing of the 2003 trial of four SLA members; complete audio recordings of Patty Hearst's media statements; and a balanced, thoughtful commentary from Stone. --Bret Fetzer

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