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The Tillman Story More at IMDbPro »

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59 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Shattering, powerful, inspiring

Author: Miles Charrier from London, England
22 August 2010

I saw the documentary 24 hours ago and I can', for the life of me, shake it out of my brain. The United States of America is an extraordinary Country. We all know that, whether we like to admit it or not. A Country that managed the impossible by growing in spite of its, ethnic, religious and political diversities. Glued together by the Bill of Rights. That's it. So, a story like the Pat Tillman story makes me shiver. When a government is prepared to concoct a lie, regardless of what that lie will do, not just to the family of the fallen soldier, like Pat Tillman's mother says "It's not about my son anymore is about the American people" but in fact to the foundation of America itself. I believed her feelings completely because one things that comes out of the documentary is that the Tillman family is truthful to the core, courageous, inspiring. They should be the poster family for what America is all about. The speeches of Kevin Tillman, Pat's younger brother, at the memorial service and at the Congresional hearing still ring in my ears. And when I recall it I can't stop the tears running down my face.

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44 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

"The (Untold) Tillman Story"

Author: guymontag425 ( from United States
25 August 2010

Amir Bar-Lev tried to compress three movies into one: the biography of Pat Tillman, his friendly-fire death in Afghanistan, and his family's battle for the truth about his death. A difficult task; he cut the film from 2 1/2 hours to 94 minutes.

The film is a great introduction to the Pat Tillman story. But, given the time constraints, it doesn't go into much detail. If you want to learn more I'd suggest Mary Tillman's book "Boots on the Ground by Dusk " (at or Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory" (revised paperback now out; good detail on death and Army's cover-up. Flawed because Krakauer lost trust of most of the family).

See the film. Nearly everything most people think they know about Pat Tillman, his family, and the story is wrong. The Tillman family end up telling much of it. A close knit family with much more honor and integrity than their government. And the movie more humor to it than you would think, especially if you don't mind a few f-bombs; the original title of the film was "I'm Pat ----ing Tillman!" (I would tell you why, but that would be a bit of a spoiler).

. . .

In his "The Fog of War" interview with Jason Guerrasio, Amir Bar-Lev said: "… there's been no culpability on the second half of this tragedy, which is the higher ups trying to cover it up. … to borrow a football metaphor, they (the Tillman family) ran the ball 99 yards over four years time, they handed it off at the one-yard line to Congress and they fumbled it...."

Shortly after Sundance, Bar-Lev emailed me that "he was pretty hard on the Democratic Congress in his film." True,his film does portray Congressman Waxman's Oversight Committee as ineptly failing to get answers from the top military leadership during their hearing.

However, Bar-Lev's film missed the "untold story" that both the Democratic Congress and the Obama Presidency shielded General Stanley McChrystal from scrutiny and punishment for his central role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death. This cover-up was a thoroughly bi-partisan affair. It wasn't just a case of the Bush administration and the Army stonewalling the Democratic Congress. Congress didn't just "fumble" the ball, they threw the game.

It's not surprising that after their initial cover-up of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death fell apart, Army officers and the Bush administration lied to protect their careers. But after they took control of both Houses of Congress in 2006, the Democrats (including Congressman Waxman, Senator Levin, Senator Webb, and Senator McCain) could have gone after those responsible. Or at least not promoted them twice!

Just before the 2006 mid-term elections, Kevin Tillman published his eloquent letter, "After Pat's Birthday". Kevin had hoped a Democratic Congress would bring accountability back to our country. But, just as with warrant-less wiretapping and torture, those responsible for the cover-up of his brother's friendly-fire death have never been held accountable for their actions.

Five years ago, Pat Tillman's family were handed a tarnished Silver Star. It was a travesty of justice that President Obama and the Senate promoted General McChrystal to the Army's highest rank, and handed him his fourth star.

Last week I posted at my feralfirefighter blog, "The (Untold) Tillman Story" – President Obama and the Bi-Partisan Congressional Whitewash of General Stanley McChrystal's Cover-up of Pat Tillman's Friendly-Fire Death.

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56 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Lies My Government Told Me

Author: marcosaguado from Los Angeles, USA
23 August 2010

How appalling and at the same time, how inspiring. Thank God for the Tillman's, even if God doesn't come in into their equation, their life is a model of integrity. Pat Tillman married his high school sweetheart. She was her first and only girlfriend. Always loyal to her as he was loyal to us, to his country, to his believes. Next to him, the government appears as a sleazy bunch, corroding our standards. Films like this make sure we keep our eyes open. The sobbing in the movie theater where I saw the film made me feel very American because we now know and knowledge is power. We won't let this horrors happen again. We can'TV allow it. The world is looking at us.

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22 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

An American Tragedy

Author: bobzmcishl
12 February 2011

I would have given this documentary a 10 except for the fact I had already read Krakauers book "Where Men Win Glory" which goes into greater detail on exactly what happened that fateful day when Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. The book also covers much more of what shaped Pat Tillman in his years growing up in New Almaden, California. The movie does hit you with more of an emotional punch than the book does, because it compacts the idiocy into 90 minutes rather than over the course of a week to read the story. Both will leave you very angry at our government.

The Tillman Story paints a picture of an All-American boy who doesn't exactly fit the mold. He isn't a Christian; in fact he is an atheist. He is not a dumb jock, but a very intelligent young man who reads Norm Chomsky, a progressive intellect. He is not arrogant but caring. He married his childhood sweetheart. He enlisted in the Army Rangers after 9/11, along with his younger brother. The movie covers all of this and does it very well. The movie stands out for contrasting Pat Tillman who was no flag pin patriot, with all of the flag waving leadership that was looking for hero's in order to promote the war effort. They started with Jessica Lynch which is portrayed at the start of the film as just a propaganda stunt to cheer up the home front. Tillman became disillusioned after that and made the comment that the Iraq war was "probably illegal as hell". He enlisted to fight in Afghanistan not Iraq, but when he had the opportunity after his Iraq tour to get out of the Army, and play football again, he turned it down in order to honor his commitment.

Where the movie doesn't get it quite right is in giving the audience a better perspective just how badly mistaken the Rangers were in shooting at Tillman. They weren't more than 20 yards away from him when he was shot. The book goes into great detail on this, whereas the documentary tries to show it but it doesn't jump out at you.

The movie is at its most persuasive in exposing how ridiculous the higher up general's were in explaining away why they were not informed about what happened. "We knew nothing" is just as alive in the American army as it was in Germany in WWII.

This is a documentary that should be watched by all American's but of course it won't. It presents too many uncomfortable truths about our military, our leaders, our American culture, and our attitudes. We want nice tidy endings like in the movies but in real life our hero's aren't all like John Wayne. They are better actually. Wayne never even served in World War II. What a contrast. Tillman is the guy you would really want in the foxhole next to yours. He was a true leader and a true patriot and he had a wonderful family and a wonderful wife. They aren't very many Pat Tillman's in our country but we were fortunate to have him if only for a short time. It is too bad he was so ill served by his commanders.

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43 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

A Moving Frustration

Author: Lucille Risi ( from Italy
23 August 2010

We have to be reminded, again and again, the sacrifices of our young soldiers. They should be honored in every possible way. I was born in Italy, a Country that got it wrong so many times and that, in many ways, seems never to learn, or wanting to learn the lesson. Democracy means the power of the people. America taught us that in the most spectacular way. That's why "The Tillman Story" is so disturbing. We can't and mustn't take anything for granted. I'm an American citizen now, for many years and proud of it. That's why we should unite our voices to those of the Tillman family and demand to be heard. If America loses its credibility, the entire world will suffer for it. Let's fight for America to remain as a beacon of light. "The Tillman Story" reminds us that together we must confront, question and fight. Thank you Tillman family and thank you to the filmmakers.

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22 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Truth and the Govermnent's Truth may not be one and the Same

Author: garak99-705-686013 from United States
25 August 2010

The Tillman Story - For a documentary this was a captivating film. It tells the story of professional NFL player Pat Tillman who left behind a Multi Million Dollar contract to join with his brother Kevin to enlist in the US Army's Rangers. Directed by Amir Bar-Lev it tells the story of a mission in Afghanistan when Tillman was shot in the head. The Military and US government initially said that Tillman was killed in heroic fashion in a firefight with the Taliban members of his platoon were given orders not to reveal what happen even to his brother Kevin who was at the tail end of the convoy. But little by little with lots of questions by his family especially his mom the truth finally came out as to what happen. Although evidence of who knew and how far the cover-up appears to have went all the way to The Bush White House only one 3 Star General was made a scapegoat . Pat knowing that because he was a high profile name that the military would want to use as a recruiting tool if something ever were to happen left written instructions that he did not want a military funeral. The military tried to push the family into signing onto one they refused and he did not have one. It is amazing to think that the US government and military would go to this length to cover-up a friendly fire incident but the United States government like all the worlds government's is Corrupt and there call for patriotism is as corrupt. I believe before any country commits to a war it should be required to read THE WAR PRAYER by Mark Twain (Look it up really read it). Pat was not religious he was a atheist at his funeral service his brother Rich said " Pat isn't with God he's F*****g Dead He wasn't religious but thank you for thoughts but he's F*****g Dead" Go see this Film

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and extraordinary documentary

Author: runamokprods from US
13 October 2011

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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A must-see for how the military and government can cover up a tragedy for political gain.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pat Tillman was an all-star college football player and an all-star pro football player. But the events of 9/11 had a deep personal impact on him, realizing that everyone needs to do their part in assuring freedom, he gave up $$Millions to enlist in the Army. He was killed, as it turned out, by "friendly fire", his own men as he climbed a ridge to see if he could spot enemies.

That in itself is tragic, but what followed was an even greater tragedy. The true facts of the incident were covered up, most likely all the way to President Bush and V.P. Cheyney, and all the military commanders between Tillman and the office of POTUS.

Instead of simply telling the truth, a story was fabricated that a Taliban ambush was responsible for Tillman's death. This story went to the memorial ceremony for Tillman. He was hailed as a hero for protecting his men. Only with a very persistent investigation by Tillman's mother, plus a scathing letter from Tillman's father to the government, got close to the truth.

Why did the military and the Bush administration lie? Because the various Bush-promoted conflicts were unpopular, and they didn't need for it to get even more unpopular, so a story was fabricated ostensibly for political gain.

With real footage of Tillman, and real footage of news reports and congressional hearings, it is an eye-opener as a glimpse into how the system can so easily cover up the truth.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A truly inspirational soldier and American hero!

Author: Hellmant from United States
14 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'THE TILLMAN STORY': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Documentary film based on the events of pro-football player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman who was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire and the U.S. government's plot to cover it up and use it as a propaganda recruitment tactic. The film was directed by Amir Bar-Lev (who also directed the acclaimed documentary 'MY KID COULD PAINT THAT') and written by Mark Monroe (who also wrote the popular documentary 'THE COVE'). It's narrated by actor Josh Brolin. The film is yet another amazingly well made and memorable documentary from 2010 (one of the best years ever for the genre).

The narrative of the film is mostly told from the perspective of the Tillman family, focusing on Pat's mother and father who put up an amazingly inspiring fight to uncover the truth of the details surrounding their son's death. It opens with the news coverage surrounding Pat's unexpected rejection of a $3.6 million Cardinals' football contract in order to enlist in the U.S. Army alongside his brother Kevin (who also gave up a career of professional baseball) in 2002. It quickly progresses to the initial reports of Pat's death in battle as the result of enemy fire in April of 2004. Weeks later the Tillman family and the public are told that Pat was in fact killed due to friendly fire by his own unit in a mistaken identity accident. Pat's mother and father continue to push for a full investigation and the release of all information regarding the shooting and as of this date have still been denied. We learn as the Tillmans dig deeper though that Pat was shot three times in the head at close range (which would most likely indicated it was intentional) and his body armor, uniform and journal were burned immediately following the shooting. Given the fact that the journal contained many of Pat's discontent views with the war in Iraq and observations of illegal activities there it lead many to speculate that the shooting was a planned assassination as well.

It has obviously never been proved if Pat Tillman's death was an accident or planned murder but as this movie shows it's still a gross injustice to the American people and an insult to all American soldiers that the U.S. government (going all the way to the top as the movie proves) covered the details of his death up and deliberately lied to us all about them. As many have pointed out our government tried to use Tillman as a 'poster child' for recruitment and spin his death into a heroic and inspirational tale when Pat Tillman made it well known that he did not want to be seen that way and did not support the war in Iraq. There's a lot of film time spent on Pat and his family's religious views or lack there of them and how people treated them because of this. We learn that Pat was very well read though and had researched many different religions and was interested in the subject.

The movie is extremely involving, interesting and emotional. It's well researched and extremely well executed. There were a few camera shot setups that I thought demeaned the otherwise outstanding quality of the film but they were minor and unimportant (which is even more so why the film could have done without them). I didn't know a lot about the details of the subject matter prior to seeing the film but have since became very interested and read up on them. That's the sign of a truly great documentary, one that wants you to learn more (although I do that before writing my reviews anyway but in this case I went a little beyond the norm and was eager to do so). The film is depressing, that's a given due to the subject matter, but it's also inspiring witnessing the heart and conviction of the Tillman families pursuit for justice. It's also of course inspiring learning more about Pat Tillman himself and what a truly inspirational soldier and American hero he really was. It's also an important film that all should see.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This documentary will be hard for anyone to forget

Author: Will Lybrand from United States
8 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sitting down to write about the "The Tillman Story" makes me recall the same emotions that the movie evokes, and frustration is at the forefront.

I want to start by writing about the premise, the story of an intelligent young man who was a successful football player, who ended up dying while fighting in war. But that is exactly what Pat Tillman, the late protagonist, wouldn't want. In addition, Pat Tillman was the only thing the country was talking about for several months in 2004.

And then I want to extol the artistic merits of the story-telling in this movie, and how it carefully peels away at the truth behind his death. But ultimately the film-making qualities aren't what make this movie worth seeing.

After that, I want to explain why "The Tillman Story" is simultaneously wonderful and terrible… wonderful in that it shines light on a shadow that deserves to be exposed, but terrible for how the viewer feels after seeing what was there. It is not the movie itself that is terrible, but instead how the story makes you feel after seeing it. But these descriptions are better left for the movie to tell.

"The Tillman Story" is worth seeing, and even more so if you are an American. It provides glimpses into the US military complex and it's mechanisms of self preservation. It details a family's experience with the death of one of their own. It will give you a mix of reactions and emotions, with no real final answer to the issues at stake. If you are looking for a light-hearted romp, or a documentary about the latest easy-going topic-du-jour, "The Tillman Story" isn't the right place to start. I rated this movie 5/5 stars because director Amir Bar-Lev succeeds on all counts .

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