The Tillman Story

In The Tillman Story, the family of Tillman comes forward to tell the real story about what happened on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan when the pro football player-turned-U.S. soldier was killed by friendly fire and not the Taliban, as first reported. Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary pieces together the Tillmans’ search for the truth, how they exposed a military cover-up that led to top-ranking officers and called to the carpet the likes of Donald Rumsfeld. This tells a story that the mother, father and siblings of Pat Tillman wanted told, and it does so effectively. This film delves deep into the life of Tillman, who joined the military to defend the honor of all Americans after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s also about the government cover-up about how Tillman was killed, not by the enemy fire but by friendly fire. The documentary is insightful, gut-wrenching, and will certainly make you angry at our hypocritical military regime. The long arduous journey that the Tillman family takes to find the truth is heartbreaking. It’s a great detective story about a scandalous cover-up by our own untrustworthy government. It was both heartbreaking and inspiring to see the courage and unceasing quest for the truth by Tillman’s family. Pat Tilman was an unorthodox American hero, with great strength and tremendous courage. And if you watch this documentary, you will see that he got those admirable traits from his equally strong but unorthodox parents. It is a horrible shame what happened with the cover-up surrounding his death. This documentary does an excellent job of showing the public what went on in the days and even years after Pat’s death — the strength his mother had to continue to fight for the truth and the overall incredible love the family has for their son / brother / husband / friend / military brother. Very well done. There are still people trying to justify this war like the lying, disingenuous, and disgusting cowards who not only led us into this debacle but turned Pat Tillman into this Orwellian recruiting poster, something that would have infuriated Tillman and did his family a great wrong by lying until they were caught due to the unwavering diligence of Dannie Tillman, Pats mother. The army tried to bury her in paperwork in order to silence her but they chose the wrong family. I have seen many if not all the films about the war we have buried ourselves in for 10 years now, and never have I been so infuriated and angry at the people at the top. You will question your faith in what you hear parroted by people trying to cover their own butts. It is not difficult to believe, after watching this documentary, that the upper echelons of the military pounced on Pat Tillman’s death as an opportunity for a public relations blitz, and that there was initially an orchestrated conspiracy to keep the truth of his death by friendly fire a secret. As a veteran of service in Iraq I totally agree with the Tillman family and their outrage at the military and the Bush administration. The war in Iraq was just as Pat Tillman said himself: “Bullsh!t” It had nothing to do with our national security and was a massive waste of lives. The members of the Bush administration and the Army who had a part in the cover up of Tillman’s friendly fire death should have been raked over the coals in hearings on Capitol Hill, but they got off way too easy. It is a disgrace what the Tillman family had to go through just because Bush’s neocons wanted to create a “hero” propaganda figure to use in Pat Tillman. One of the most ironic things about the Bush regime is that every time they thought to fool the American public and cover themselves with glory they came off looking like incompetent liars, or worse. The case of Pat Tillman is a perfect illustration of this. An all American young man loved football and quit to fight for his country. Then he dies for his country and the government lies to his family about how he really died. It’s scary and sad how our government covers up these lies — especially about the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country. How many more lies are being covered up today? Friendly fire happens, cover-ups and lies shouldn’t. I was caught up in the whole Tillman hero-thing, having been in TV news for many years before leaving in 2000. I winced at how culpable the media was, especially the syrupy descriptions of his “actions”. I find what happened a disgrace. The government’s actions were repulsive. The deceit that was evident when the generals and Rumsfeld testified made me sick. How can these “men” look at themselves in the mirror? Having seen the movie and heard the story, this movie is a great reason not to join the military. Pat was and is an inspiring person who wasn’t what the army expected and he deserves to have his story told. Not exploited but the truth. Jon Krakauer’s book Where Men Win Glory has a much more detail about the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death, the subsequent myth-making, the cover-up, the Tillman family’s fight for the truth and the Jessica Lynch myth. Of course, comparing a movie to a book is seldom a fair fight. If this movie piques your interest or raises your ire, I suggest you read Krakauer’s book. This documentary is worth every moment of your time. Amir Bar-Lev gives us an experience we so rarely have anymore in fact-based reporting, which is not a slanted view of a situation, but an acknowledgement that one party’s version of the truth has a more factual basis than another and should be presented as such. I could never say “I liked” this movie, because it is so difficult to watch. Despite leaving me incensed and dejected, I want to see it again. It was well done and inspiring. I highly recommend it. Amazing family, amazing man, what a loss. Documentary 2010 R 95 minutes.


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