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The Radical Story of Patty Hearst

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

(available Sundance, through Amazon Prime, presented by CNN)

FTC Rating: 3.5 out of 5

In popular culture, the name Patty Hearst is synonymous with Stockholm Syndrome. This six-part docuseries presents a competing narrative and asks the question “was Patty Hearst an innocent victim brainwashed after 56 days of captivity or a willing participant in the SLA”?

Strengths: -Excellent positioning of the story within the greater narrative of American history and politics in the 70s -Details of the formation and beliefs of the SLA -Interview with former SLA member corroborates the account of the kidnapping but also reveals the disturbing thought pattern of group members -Subtle but effective re-enactments of events

Weaknesses: -Could benefit from more archival footage -Lacks a central interview with Patty (and family) which filmmakers reveal at the introduction of the docuseries. The omission significantly affects the impact of the series.

Final thought: My favorite quote which I believe best summarizes Patricia Hearst: “I think she is water; she takes the shape of the glass she’s poured in to.” CJ Westrick U.S. Attorney’s Office, 1976

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