THE TILLMAN STORY
Excessive Humanist/Left-Wing Partisanship
Release Date: August 27, 2010
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 94 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Executive Producer: Molly Thompson, Robert
DeBitetto, Robert Sharenow,
Andrew Ruhemann, and Michael
Producer: John Battsek
Writer: Amir Bar-Lev, Joe Bini and
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein
The Weinstein Company
345 Hudson Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (646) 862-3400; Fax: (917) 368-7000
The documentary details the Tillman family’s crusade, led by Tillman’s mother Dannie, to learn the truth about their son’s death and to explode the fantasies about Tillman’s service. Regrettably, Tillman’s younger brother Rich gives an angry, obscenity-laced public statement at Tillman’s funeral protesting religious sentiments during the funeral.
“Pat isn’t with God; he’s (“f” word deleted) dead,” Rich says. “He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead."
Later, in an interview, Rich says that the “f” word was one of his brother’s favorite words.
A memo from General Stanley McChrystal reveals that the military knew really early that Tillman died from friendly fire. The general warns the Pentagon to tell officials in the Bush administration to be careful about what they say concerning how Tillman died. The movie suggests there was a cover-up after that because the military had already gone far to laud Tillman publicly as a fatally wounded hero who died while facing enemy fire. It blames the Bush administration for doing the same thing and suggests that, in reality, before he died Tillman became opposed to the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
THE TILLMAN STORY reveals a story of gross negligence as some over-zealous American soldiers kill one of their own and an over-zealous military hierarchy becomes anxious to put a happy face on two controversial wars. Beyond that, however, the movie doesn’t go anywhere. In fact, if anything, the movie seems to side with the Tillman family’s nihilistic atheist humanism, as represented by the foul-mouthed anti-religious vitriol coming from Tillman’s brother, who is rightfully upset about his brother’s sudden death. Ironically, the filmmakers fail to really explore this side of the family’s story, perhaps for fear of making the family look bad. If so, they may have made the same mistake that the military made.
Finally, the filmmakers use the tragic story of Tillman’s untimely death to suggest that American soldiers are too macho and too trigger-happy. It may be true that some, or even many, of America’s servicemen are susceptible to what is known among police circles (unfairly we might add) as “the John Wayne syndrome.” But, to indict most of America’s servicemen for being trigger-happy without any real research to back it up smacks MOVIEGUIDE® as an unsupported political smear, not as honest journalism. Tillman’s untimely death is indeed awful and appears to reflect a lack of proper training, but many Americans are getting tired of these left-wing smears against the country’s servicemen.
Thus, while one can applaud the attempt in this movie to expose an awful government cover-up, the filmmakers seem to let their politics get in the way of their reporting. They are obviously too close to the Tillman family to be objective.
THE TILLMAN STORY reveals a story of gross negligence as some over-zealous American soldiers kill one of their own and an over-zealous military hierarchy becomes anxious to put a happy face on two controversial wars. Beyond that, however, the movie doesn’t go anywhere. In fact, if anything, the movie seems to side with the Tillman family’s nihilistic, atheist, humanist attitude. Also, it suggests that most American servicemen are too macho and trigger-happy. Apparently, the filmmakers seem to have a few axes to grind. This diminishes the professional, objective integrity of their documentary. Documentary filmmaking in Hollywood has reached another low point.