In the past couple of weeks I’ve immersed myself in the details from Feb. 4-May 17, 1974, from when the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst to when six of them died in a shootout with Los Angeles police.
Let me just say I now see those three months in a new way. Consider this: nine people living in one small apartment, rarely getting a chance to leave. I sometimes have a hard time living with one person in a large space, so it’s really hard for me to imagine the psychological and physical toll living in such close quarters must have taken.
On Saturday, I sat down to watch Patty Hearst, the 1988 movie based on Hearst’s 1982 book, Every Secret Thing. A few observations:
* I’ve seen the movie once before and it was not memorable. This time around I felt like more sunk in, but it was still hard to connect with.
* The beginning of the movie is trippy and psychedelic. I suppose the director was trying for a disorienting effect to mimic what Patty was feeling, but the effect for viewers is disjointed. It looks more like a filmed play than a movie.
* Some of the actors went on to become big names. Natasha Richardson, of course, but also Ving Rhames (looking fairly svelte as Donald DeFreeze), Dana Delaney (who plays Angela Atwood) and Frances Fisher (who plays Emily Harris).
* At just over an hour and a half, this movie has to move quickly through the story. I guess if you want the Cliff Notes version of Patty’s story, this might do it. But can you really collapse 16 months, plus the trial, into 100 minutes? It’s a near impossible task and the result is a rushed story that only scratches the surface. Read the book instead.
Here’s a clip: