Entertainment

Pat Tillman Documentary Awakens Patriotism, Anger

| by Hollywood Elsewhere

As I wrote on May 2nd, Amir Bar Lev's The Tillman Story is "far and away one of the finest films I've seen this year, and a likely contender for the 2010 Best Feature Documentary Oscar. It has the stuff that engages and holds and sinks in deep." Which means, as Movieline's Stu Van Airsdale predicted earlier today, that the fiends at Big Hollywood will probably try and trash it in some way.

Sure enough, BH's John Nolte responded as follows: "Big Hollywood hasn't seen The Tillman Story. It wasn't even high on our radar. But when two of Tinseltown's top leftist water-carriers" -- the L.A. Times' Stephen Zeitchik also wrote about it on 6.20 -- "carry this much water to assure us there's nothing political to see here and then assume the highly defensive crouch of challenging us to 'smear' it...well, something's up. And we very much appreciate them letting us know."

Returning to my 5.2 review: "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 f***ing 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 to save his fellow troops.

"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."