No Ignoring Tillman

Last night I attended a special Tribeca Film Festival screening of Amir Bar-Lev‘s The Tillman Story (Weinstein Co., 8.20) — far and away one of the finest films I’ve seen this year, and a likely contender for the 2010 Best Feature Documentary Oscar. I know it’s early but this movie has the stuff that engages and holds and sinks in deep.

I felt just as stirred up last night — seething, close to tearful — as I was after my initial Sundance viewing three months ago. Because this is not a film about the Middle East conflict but about a stand-up American family and how they responded (and continue to respond) to an orchestrated governmental obscenity that tried to diminish the memory of a fallen son.

I’m speaking, of course, of former Arizona Cardinals safety and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, and particularly his April 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan — a result of his being shot three times in the head by a fellow U.S. soldier. It happened because of the usual idiotic confusion, and some young intemperate guys who wanted to be in a fire fight and acted foolishly in the heat of the moment. Tillman was enraged that his own fellows were shooting at him, of course, and his last words were an attempt to get them to wake up — “I’m Pat fucking Tillman!”

The obscenity was the attempt in ’04 by the U.S. military and Bush administration to make political hay out of Tillman’s death by manufacturing a bullshit scenario that claimed he was killed by Taliban troops and that he died in an effort save his fellow troops.


Tillman Story producer John Battsek, narrator Josh Brolin following last night’s special screening of The Tillman Story.

Of course, 97% of American moviegoers are going to ignore The Tillman Story when it opens because (a) they’re resolutely opposed to seeing any film that has anything to do with the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan and (b) they don’t much like documentaries anyway, and (c) they just want to chill out and be entertained. The fact that The Tillman Story leaves you feeling angry and alive and engaged with the actual world will most likely have no effect on this determination

Producer John Battsek and narrator Josh Brolin did a q & a following the screening, which ended around 11:40 pm. Brolin, a good hombre, mentioned he’ll be doing Cannes promotional duty for five days, partly for Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street 2 and partly for Woody Allen‘s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

13 thoughts on “No Ignoring Tillman

  1. It’s a huge problem to equate feeling angry with feeling alive and it’s better to avoid people who do. And how does seeing this film (or any other) leave you more engaged with the real world? I will argue that they do no such thing. You are left feeling angry, so how does that relate to the real world? Just some ideas you picked up, not that the government and other people don’t do nasty, despicable things, but that you think “the real world” is something to be angry about tells too much about you. There is much more to “the real world” than that. You’re only reacting to a slice of it, trying to justify your chronic anger in the process, and this is your contribution to “the real world.” And you call other people narrow and provincial.

  2. bondjamesbond (a telling handle, that), you sure miss the point of movies such as this one and their importance (and denigrate Jeff in the process). I can only quote you what John Ford said when asked by New Theatre magazine’s Emanuel Eisenberg in 1936, “Then you do believe, as a director, in including your point of view in a picture about things that bother you?” Ford replied, “What the hell else does a man live for?” If Ford were around today, he probably would have made a movie about Pat Tillman.

    Look at FORT APACHE.

  3. I will argue that they do no such thing. You are left feeling angry, so how does that relate to the real world? Just some ideas you picked up, not that the government and other people don’t do nasty, despicable things

    Baby Bedding

  4. Hey, fucker, that’s my job to litter the site with links no wants to be bothered with. Show some respect

  5. If you want people to see a doc, show it on TV. Even I have trouble working up the motivation to see the most acclaimed docs on a big screen – especially if I know they were not shot on film.

    I’m surprised Jeff isn’t bashing the filmmakers for being so late in the game, so to speak, bringing this out.

  6. And Jeff must be distracted by something to have missed the chance to drive page-views with Polanski’s statement blaming his lot on everything except the fact he drugged and “rape raped” a female who was of the age of consent in several more enlightened European countries and the Middle East…

  7. Is this going to be in a small release sometime soon? Didn’t get a chance to attend Tribeca this year :(

  8. bondjamesbond,

    So you’re doing some back-seat analysis on JW based on his visceral reactions to a good documentary. Maybe he’s tired of watching the same old shit that doesn’t move him. I’m pretty sure that “making him feel alive” is in relation to the new “Cats & Dogs” movie.

    Maybe learning the story of someone who lost their life for an accidental reason turned into BS by their own government provokes an emotion reaction.

    This story doesn’t bother you? Then that’s your problem.

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