For Reel

Tower (2016)
February 26, 2017, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Keith Maitland
4.5 Stars
towerUntil 1999, the shootings that occurred at the University of Texas from the observation deck of the main tower were not officially commemorated by the school. Tower, then, seeks to stand as an appreciation for the victims of that horrible day, as well as a celebration of the selfless acts of heroism that saved lives. By telling the story of the events through the victim’s point-of-view and all but abandoning the shooter (he is barely even mentioned, let alone psychoanalyzed), Tower becomes an urgent, immediate film about the amazing things people can do for each other under remarkable trauma. In his use of rotoscoping, Keith Maitland both creates a critical distance between the viewer and the horrors of the day (which makes the occasional uses of archival material all the more striking and vivid) and suggests the surreality of the events. That is, while mass shootings have been a plague in recent history, these events were so unexpected and unusual for the time that people even flocked towards the site of danger in their bemused curiosity, believing the sounds of gunshots to be fireworks. Between the stylization and the way Maitland orchestrates tension, the film risks being exploitative in that it fulfills a human interest in the morbid. By focusing on the victims themselves, however, the film becomes a personal story more than political one, and the touching archival interviews are constructed in a way that tells a harrowing story of bravery and sacrifice.