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The Tillman Story More at IMDbPro »

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58 out of 80 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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54 out of 83 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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42 out of 74 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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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

He served his country honorably - unlike his leaders

Author: lectureral from France
28 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie should make the viewer angry. As an American who has lived in Europe for over 20 years I have often defended my country (eg after 9/11 when some, incredibly, believed the attacks were orchestrated by the government). This film, however, and what was done to the Tillman family totally undermines those who would defend America. To see Rumsfeld in front of Congress failing to remember when he heard about the friendly-fire incident ties this story in with the other ways in which that administration did so much harm to the US while waving its flag vigorously (torture, extraordinary rendition, starting a cynical (and probably illegal) war). The attacks faced by the Tillman family (it's because they are atheists - really?) and the way in which Congress failed totally to hold those who were at the top to account brings shame to both the US military and government. I do hope that the family find some resolution and hope in getting Pat's story out there.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Tillman Story Shows Weakness in Military and Government Leadership

Author: appliedsuccess from United States
14 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Tillman Story is a very well shot and constructed documentary if not intentionally one-sided to represent the untold Tillman family's side of tragedy. It's most likely rated R for the Tillman family's loved use of the F word. The documentary provides insight into their anguish from not only the loss of their son and brother, but also from the government and military's manipulation of the facts that make his death even more disturbing. I'd read of Pat's death due to friendly fire, but was never lead to a clear understanding of just how blatant the friendly fire was. This was not a true fire fight in which an arrant round hit an unintended target. The movie depicts the incident as much more deliberate. There should be a greater indictment of the press for their failure to truly investigate things and clearly describe what actually happened. They have become so unprofessional these days that they simply serve as parrots of information feed to them by "officials". Unfortunate considering information in today's world is probably more easily obtained then it was for reporters decades ago.

Pat was a private, principal-driven man. You gain as much as sense of who Pat really was as the family is willing to divulge. And the public image of him as a hero is tempered by the family's belief in the reality that Pat should not have been given the Silver Star. As his brother says, Pat was an olympian for serving, as are all who serve, but the government's decision to issue the Silver Star is addressed in the movie as a cheapening of the "hero" label it provides those who actually earn it. More revealing is the movie's depiction of the willing incompetence of the U.S. government. The Congressional committee hosting the investigative hearing demonstrates the back- slapping, could-care-less-about-the-people attitude of the Representatives who Tillman's family counted on to "represent" them against obvious government abuses. In the face of testimony from all the military brass that were unwilling to take responsibility, the Congressional committee simply brushes it off as "you've done your best, right?" The message is clear - the people are not really represented by any branch of the government. The "insiders" all cooperate to cover one another. And apparently even Pat's star status was not enough to upset this system.

Pat's mother worked for 2.5 years everyday making calls and the government did not respond. Only when Pat's dad, a lawyer, wrote a letter on letterhead identifing him as an attorney that the government took notice and did something. This "lawyer bias" was never addressed in the movie, and I question whether the family makes the connection. Pat's brother apparently doesn't because he thinks it was because his dad told them to F**** themselves, and commented his mom could have done this years ago if that was what was needed to raise attention. Nope. It was because dad was a lawyer. (Personally, I would have liked to see Pat's dad cross examine the Generals.) The members of Congress did such a poor job, there seemed to be no reason for the hearing other than to place the Tillman family's grievances on the record as yet another appeasement tactic.

In it's category as a documentary, I think this movie scores well, but falls short of investigating areas of this case that were never touched upon. It leaves open the question of what the Tillman family may have pursued in the civil courts to gain some justice and does not recognize the government's penchant for catering to the demands of people identified as lawyers. It seemed odd that the focus in questioning the generals was about when they knew it was friendly fire rather than about punishment of the soldiers responsible for Pat's death. Where was the military court trial? It seemed the Tillmans were more angered by when people knew than by what they knew, and that disconnect was left unexplained. The very system Pat was fighting for is broken and in need of repair. Perhaps the people would have real representation with term limits that would eliminate career politicians who are more inclined to cover their fellow government officials. Just a thought.

Rest in peace, Pat. Your men know what really happened, and those responsible have to live with your death. I feel for your family and wife. What a shame to lose Pat Tillman. Even more of a shame how things were handled after his murder.

Having said all this, understand I support those who serve. Clearly there was criminal activity here that should have been addressed in a military court and was not in part because of who Pat was prior to joining. At every turn, his fame seemed to work against him being treated as he wished.

While the film was good, it left holes in the story that I think would complete the whole picture. I'd recommend watching it, if for no other reason than to gain a clear understanding of the real Pat Tillman, not the made-for-American-Consumption Pat Tillman.

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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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