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Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn't done for any reason other than he felt it was the right thing to do. The fact that the military manipulated his tragic death in the line of duty into a propaganda tool is unfathomable and thoroughly explored in Amir Bar-Lev's riveting and enraging documentary. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Quite extraordinary documentary dealing with the emotional and intellectual issues around Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan and subsequent Army cover-up. A film of insight, humanity, and righteous anger, but it never feels manipulative of the people or facts involved.
Like Tillman himself, it avoids simplistic answers and tries to look deeper. This isn't a propaganda piece, but a complex study of a family's grief, and how powerful organizations like the Army sometimes put their own image ahead of human honesty and decency.
Tillman himself emerges as a highly complex man someone who didn't go off to war looking for glory, and indeed, tried actively just to be treated like any other soldier a desire the Army refused to honor, even in death (Tillman had specifically, in writing. requested not to have a military funeral should he die in war, but the Army tried to bulldoze the family into one for PR purposes).
He believed the Afghanistan war was a righteous cause, but politically disagreed with the decision to go to war with Iraq, while fighting with honor and distinction. He was an atheist who respected and was curious about all religions, and whose public memorial was co-opted by public figures invoking the name of God, until finally his little brother in an act of slightly drunken bravery - stood up to tell them all that wasn't who Pat was.
His family emerge as heroes of another kind, working tirelessly to discover the truth of what really happened to their son and why,all the while fighting an Army and political establishment that just wanted them to stand there mute, and look sad and grateful for the cameras.
Amir Bar-Lev is emerging as one of our best documentary filmmakers, and I'd urge you to also check out his earlier work "My Kid Could Paint That" and "Fighter".
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