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Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (Robert Stone)


GUERRILLA: The Taking of Patty Hearst (Robert Stone)
Magnolia Pictures

Guerilla looks like an episode of Streets of San Francisco meets Dragnet, meets any revolutionary-era Berkeley documentary you can get your hands on. Of course, one could suppose, it has to, since it’s a cult crime documentary based in 70’s Berkeley. But could nothing have been done to freshen it up?

Perhaps not. The modern soundtrack feels out of place, since the film doesn’t attempt to correlate any of the subject matter with the modern social climate. And, the tweaked out, arty montage toward the end is just bizarrely unnecessary (though remarkable creepy).

Of course we know that Patty Hearst was the daughter of newspaper tycoon, Wm. Randolph Hearst, and was abducted by the anti-war, pseudo-communist Simbianese Liberation Army in 1974. Patty seemingly succumbed to the ideals of the S.L.A. over time, and ended up assisting them in a robbery as well as fighting for all their causes under her pseudonym, Tania… That is, until she was arrested, when she declared that she had been suffering from Stockholm syndrome, and actually wanted nothing to do with the crazy old S.L.A.

Guerrilla goes into detail with candid and privileged interviews that dominate the content of the film, along with archival news reels and surveillance footage.

If you already know the brunt of this story, and have never explored the deeper questions and details, you may be bored by this film, as it doesn’t exactly offer much new insight to dispel the inherent historical conjecture; however, if you’re fascinated by the Hearst story, the film does maintain a depth and a focus that refreshingly separates it from every other documentary about that period in American history.

In other words, if you’ve seen Cecil B. Demented (co-starring Patty Hearst, incidentally) and thought it was a good story, but a little too modern for you, then Guerilla is your material.

It’s rather unfortunate that even the current interviews in Guerrilla retain too much of that 70’s, dated look. It’s a worth-while watch, but painfully so, with all the aesthetics of a 70’s driver’s education course film strip. Some working modern reference would have saved this.

GUERRILLA: The Taking of Patty Hearst opens January 14th at Starz Film Center.


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