The American Experience: Season 17, Episode 11

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (30 May 2005)

TV Episode  |  Unrated  |   |  Documentary, History
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 418 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 9 user | 21 critic | 20 from

A documentary on the curious American domestic terrorist group, infamous for the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst.


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Title: Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (30 May 2005)

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Episode credited cast:
Michael Bortin ...
Timothy Findley ...
Dan Grove ...
Ludlow Kramer ...
John Lester ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marcus Foster ...
Himself (archive footage)
Catherine Hearst ...
Herself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Randolph Hearst ...
Himself (archive footage)
Richard Neill ...
Himself (archive footage)
Howard Shack ...
Evelle Younger ...
Himself (archive footage)


In 1974, a teenage newspaper heiress and Berkeley undergrad was kidnapped at gunpoint from her apartment, setting off one of the most bizarre episodes in recent history. The kidnappers, completely off the map before Patty Hearst disappeared into the San Francisco night, were a small band of young, ferociously militant political radicals, dedicated to the rights of prisoners and the working class. They called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. Over the course of about three years they robbed banks, senselessly killed two innocent people, instigated a firefight after attempting to shoplift a pair of socks, and, most famously, converted their hostage and victim. They also achieved an undeniably visionary manipulation of the media, inciting perhaps the first modern media frenzy. Presenting resonating questions about the role of the media in America--mouthpiece? Messenger? Truth seeker? --The ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies, and the proximity of madness to political ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Release Date:

30 May 2005 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$22,444 (USA) (26 November 2004)


$101,439 (USA) (11 February 2005)

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User Reviews

Where are all the resisters now?
21 November 2007 | by (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

This wasn't the greatest doc in the world, but it's hampered by not having an up-to-date interview with Patricia Hearst, the subject being examined by filmmaker Robert Stone.

As someone who was active in this period (the 'tumultuous' 1960s and '70s), I think the film offers an accurate depiction of the unrest that spread throughout the world as young and old took to the streets and denounced the powerful who brokered in human oppression.

After almost two years of living with the 'enemy,' the precious Patty Hearst was released. She recanted and told the world how much she had been 'brainwashed' by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Through powerful political influences, she served less than two years in jail, then went back to the protective bosom of the very system that the SLA, and Hearst herself, were fighting against.

The people shown to be the REAL buffoons in this film are the FBI, CIA, the army, and various police forces. Although only a ragtag outfit with barely seven members at its zenith, the SLA went all but undetected, with Hearst in tow, for almost two years.

This was a depressing film for me personally. I look around me now and see nothing but mindless, conformist kids and adult children who think happiness can't be achieved unless they get ever-newer versions of i-Pods, i-Phones, or a multitude of other gadgets every two weeks. Resistance has left and gone away. Not many people stand up to be counted any more. And no, returning something to the Gap is not an act of rebellion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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