Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Dir: Robert Stone, 2004


The 1974 kidnapping of socialite and heir to the multi-million dollar Hearst fortune, Patty Hearst, is a fascinating insight into the workings of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and the effects of Stockholm syndrome.

However, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst isn’t.

Featuring the actual recordings made by Patty during the time of her captivity, and the camera footage of her notorious bank raid, the film certainly has its moments of intrigue. But it’s the rest of it that aids in its disappointment.

Like all documentaries, the bulk of the film is compiled of talking heads with archive footage spliced in, yet, very little of it, is interesting.

Director Stone doesn’t doesn’t delve deep enough into the subject matter and merely scratches the surface.

The history of the SLA should be a wealth of information, with its members being a prime focus, such as Cinque.

As a documentary, it just feels bland. There’s no grip, there. Nothing to reel you in and hold you for the duration.

Strangely, with the abundance of people willing to talk about, Patty herself isn’t one of them.

Relegated to newspaper snippets and news bulletins, Hearst’s absence damages the film from which it is unable to recover. The documentary so badly needed her input to offer a greater unearthing of the events and provide the emotional impact that such an ordeal would have.

For the film to work successfully, the viewer needs to be allowed access to all the findings put in front of them. With Hearst’s input, we could have gotten a perspective from the inside. Because we aren’t given the opportunity to see things from a different view, we are left with, purely, an outside view looking in.

Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst isn’t a bad documentary, it’s just disappointing that it didn’t live up to its capabilities or promise and could have been so much more.


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