Tag Archives: Political

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst – It’s Not the Whole Story


He was the Rupert Murdoch of his day: a media baron who made millions marketing scandal, crime and crisis. He was so rich, he built a castle as a monument to his vanity. So iconic that his life story inspired the movie classic ‘Citizen Kane.’ When William Randolph Hearst died in 1951, he left future generations of Hearsts set for life—safely cushioned in the bubble of their birthright. But on the evening of Feb. 4, 1974, that bubble burst.
—Josh Mankiewicz, Dateline NBC

The documentary film, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004), is a synopsis of a high-profile criminal case, which in the 1970s had most of America enraptured. The movie is worth your while for at least the following four reasons:

Violent protesters at UC Berkeley
Violent protesters at UC Berkeley, Feb 2017

First is the movie’s accurate portrayal of UC Berkeley and other similar college campuses in America in the late 1960s-70s. Forty years have passed since the Patty Hearst case, yet it is strikingly similar to what is going on today. A few weeks ago, UC Berkeley was mired with violent protests against Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News, a conservative media outlet (Gecker, 2017; Ross, 2017). Not only disallowing free speech on the campus, but the UC Berkeley protesters also removed metal barriers, smashed windows in buildings both on-campus and off, and defied police, who, fortunately, were able to protect the speaker from the violence.

But officials said it was a smaller group of protesters dressed in black and in hooded sweatshirts that showed up as night fell to break windows with metal barricades, throw smoke bombs and flares and start a large bonfire outside the building with a diesel generator.

‘This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,’ said UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet (Gecker, 2017 Feb 2).

Continue reading Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst – It’s Not the Whole Story

Propaganda, Mind Control, and Engineering Public Opinion

Mind control is an interesting concept. This terminology most often conjures up notions of intrigue, sci-fi, destructive cults, MK Ultra, and maybe thoughts of Jason Bourne. In describing Patty Hearst at her trial, her defense team highlighted Hearst’s terror and the abuses of her captivity, suggesting that she may have been drugged into a “disordered and frightened” state. The idea that many believe about her circumstance is that she was brainwashed, “also known as coercive persuasion or manipulative thought reform” (Morabito, 2014, Apr 15), and developed what is known as “Stockholm syndrome,” a mind condition where she unconsciously abandoned her own prior belief systems and took on the mindset of her captors (Jameson, 2010).

What does it mean to be brainwashed? Continue reading Propaganda, Mind Control, and Engineering Public Opinion

The Use of Images in Persuasion: Miracles and Magic in Montage

Now and then, we must re-visit our history to know what we’ve gained in our progression of movie-watching. When we began our film exploration in January 2010, it was simply that, an exploration. However, even then, we looked at films that revealed important ways in which the movie and the spectator interact to construct their stories and to reveal their biases.

Since then, that exploration has evolved into a somewhat more systematic treatment of our focus of study. Through the use of themes and the occasional “film on film,” we are developing a better vocabulary for talking about our movies, and a better understanding of various aspects of film communication. Continue reading The Use of Images in Persuasion: Miracles and Magic in Montage

Sergei Eisenstein Leaves an Enduring Legacy for Filmmakers

Here we are in 2017, just a short eight years away from the 100-year mark since Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925) was released. Credited with revolutionizing the art and craft of filmmaking through its utilization of montage and special effects, this movie also forms an essential foundation for the use of film for propaganda.

The film indeed remains influential today, not only for its innovative techniques, but also for its model as a clear example of persuasive methods. In fact, Battleship Potemkin was banned in several countries, including the UK, out of concern that it would motivate potential rebellion. Continue reading Sergei Eisenstein Leaves an Enduring Legacy for Filmmakers

Thoughts on Battleship Potemkin and Propaganda

By the 1890s, the technology of photography had evolved to a point where motion pictures were possible, and it didn’t take long for mankind to realize the enormous potential of the medium for propaganda. Motion pictures were easily understood for all levels of education, in spite of a silent screen, and could reach the masses in minimal time. Within 30 years of the first motion picture ever filmed, Russian movie maker Sergei Eisenstein had directed Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925) with the purpose of creating goodwill for the Bolsheviks and building resentment towards the Tsarists. Continue reading Thoughts on Battleship Potemkin and Propaganda

Impassioned Speeches: Edna Gladney and Meryl Streep

Those of us who watched the Golden Globe Awards this week, or heard about the event after the fact, know that in accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Meryl Streep gave an impassioned speech. Without naming names, most likely everyone in the world knew the context and the individual about whom she spoke.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. Continue reading Impassioned Speeches: Edna Gladney and Meryl Streep