Tower (2016)

tower poster 2016 movie documentary
9.0 Overall Score

A look at the people affected on the day of the shooting

Could have had even more of what happened after to the survivor

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tower

Studio:  Go-Valley

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  March 13, 2016 (South by Southwest)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

tower documentary claire wilson thomas eckman animation

The shooting starts and the nightmare begins

On August 1, 1966 a shot rang out on the campus of the University of Texas and a pregnant woman named Claire Wilson and her boyfriend Thomas Eckman fell.  It was the start of an afternoon of terror as the shooting and death continued from the tower.  With no end in sight, it was up to police and citizens to stop the gunman and end the horror.  Stories of survival arose and horror can bring out greatness.

Directed by Keith Maitland, Tower is a documentary feature about the shootings on the campus of the University of Texas in 1966.  The film premiered at South by Southwest and is a combination of interviews and animated recreations.

The shooting at Texas took place almost ten years before my birth.  It was one of those real life horror stories you grew up with.  It was sometimes a cautionary tale (aka “he’s going to end up shooting from some tower”) or a story of how bad and rocky the ’60s could be.  Despite knowing the basics of the day, I didn’t know much about how the day unfolded and Tower is a good way of telling the story without elevating the killer Charles Whitman.

tower documentary police animation

Time begins to run out for the shooter

The documentary really focuses on the heroes and citizens who were caught in the crosshairs.  The movie questions the ideas of heroes and shows that even the toll on these people is great.  The movie had a nice balance of events of the past and events of today (though I could have seem more of what happened to people…like Rita Starpattern who stayed with Claire and died 1996).

The day showed people what they were.  You had people that run and hid and you had people that stood up and did what they felt was right despite chances of harm to themselves.  If you haven’t been in a situation like that you can’t judge how you’d act (even the people who didn’t act).  The movie shows both “heroes” and people paralyzed with fear.

tower documentary artly fox claire wilson today

A survivor and her hero

The movie’s visuals are basically done through rotoscoping (a process of animating live actors who are filmed).  It works and the movie does some interesting moments near the end with a combination of rotoscoping and real video.  It is a cheap and affordable means to “go back in time” and it is effective.  I also like the uses of black-and-white and color.

Tower is a good look at a dark moment in American history that shows despite danger and horror, people will endure and rise.  An interesting side note was that the statue of Jefferson Davis (which became a safe haven for those hiding from the shooter) once again became controversial and was removed in 2015 due to the push to remove Confederate statues…leading to questions if the statue took on another role after the deaths that should be remembered.  The documentary is worth seeking out and is available for streaming.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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