The Tillman Story Amir Bar-Lev

The Tillman Story Amir Bar-Lev
Pat Tillman was a homegrown, meat and potatoes NFL defensive player who decided to give up a multi-million dollar contract to join the army with his brother, Kevin. He never provided an official "reason" for doing so to the press, instead quietly going off to defend his country following the events of 9/11. Given his public status, Tillman's eventual tragic death overseas sparked media interest, with news of his heroism – reportedly dying while protecting his fellow troops – being just the thing to unify a nation's uniform patriotic ideologue. Unfortunately, this story was bullshit propaganda used to manipulate the general public, which was exposed when news came out that Pat Tillman had actually died from friendly fire. Amir Bar-Lev's (My Kid Could Paint That) documentary shapes this narrative in a compelling, linear matter, revealing facts at key points to maintain viewer appeal throughout. But it is interested in far more than just telling the story of this fallen soldier. The Tillman Story works as an incisive look at media culture, observing the herd mentality of hungry, opportunistic reporters and other bandwagon-hopping people that attach themselves to the death of someone they never knew, trying to take a piece of it for themselves for reasons not entirely altruistic. It takes the perspective that in boosting the image of the recently deceased for political reasons you ultimately take away that person's identity and inadvertently steal grief and memories from their family. Interviews with Tillman's parents and brothers cover this notion thoroughly, while Bar-Lev smartly injects news footage and press snippets to drive the point home. As an audience, we get an impression of the actual flawed, but essentially good-natured, Pat Tillman while gaining some perspective on family grief, the nature of public manipulation and the reality that 19-year-old soldiers are probably more interested in shooting guns than they are honouring their country. Director Amir Bar-Lev has a commentary track on the DVD, which provides some context for the interviews and footage, sharing some anecdotes about his dealings with the Tillman family. (Alliance)