Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst is an unprecedented account of the Symbionese Liberation Army, arguably the most notorious and flamboyant domestic terrorist group in American history.
Dedicated to the rights of black prisoners and the working class, the S.L.A. set forth in 1973 to incite the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, brilliantly manipulating the mass media to advance their message. Their audacious kidnapping of teenage newspaper heiress Patty Hearst inspired what might be described as the first true media "frenzy," one that only exploded further when Patty transformed into "Tania" and joined the ranks of the S.L.A. Every detail of their descent into the surreal outer limits of political extremism was played out in public, a spectacle foreshadowing some of the worst excesses of modern TV journalism. Thirty years later, the S.L.A.'s extraordinary two-year crime spree resonates as a parable of political ideology run amok, the role of the media in America, and the romantic fantasies of modern political terrorism.
For Guerrilla, filmmaker Robert Stone went underground, where he spent four years creating a film that delivers both eye-popping archival footage and an exclusive interview with S.L.A. founder Russ Little, whose incarceration inspired the Hearst kidnapping. Little has never before given an on-camera interview, making Guerrilla an important historical document, as well as gripping entertainment. This American Experience program does not sympathize with or glorify the S.L.A. Instead, it provides a thorough, clear-eyed account of the first terrorist group to hold not just one heiress, but the entire nation hostage, and its subsequent, disastrous self-destruction.