Composer Philip Sheppard's score for the documentary The Tillman Story, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, is necessarily solemn. The film chronicles the life of Pat Tillman, a professional football player who enlisted in the military in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and was sent to Afghanistan, where he was killed by friendly fire. The circumstances of his death were the subject of an alleged cover-up, so this is a complicated story mixing sports, fame, patriotism, tragedy, and deceit. Sheppard addresses these elements with slow-moving orchestral string parts usually supporting single-note keyboard passages. The cues are short, with 32 of them occupying a soundtrack album of 51 minutes. Understandably, the track called "The Wedding" is a bit livelier. "The Afghan" introduces an appropriately Eastern tonality. If there is, throughout, the sense that something is missing, this is a deliberate choice on the part of the composer, who explains that, in order to mirror the censored documents shown onscreen, documents requested by Tillman's survivors in an attempt to discover what really happened to him, the music too "redacts" parts of melodies that were written, but not fully played. This composition-by-omission also has the effect of complementing the overall theme of the film, which is an account of a person who is no longer present.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Tillman Story|