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Film Reviews Tower: Doc creatively, effectively tells the story of a grim tragedy

Keith Maitland realized his vision for Tower via roto-scoping animation in which actors go through the physical motions of the scene, then are essentially painted over.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Tower
Directed by
Keith Maitland
Genre
Documentary
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

Keith Maitland has said there was no way the University of Texas would let him use its campus as a location for live-action filming of his documentary on the notorious 1966 sniper attack.

That's a creative hurdle for someone planning to recount the events of the day when student Charles Whitman, hunkered down in a campus tower, shot 46 people – 14 fatally – on the grounds below. But Maitland realized his vision for Tower via roto-scoping animation in which actors go through the physical motions of the scene, then are essentially painted over. You can photograph them anywhere.

Animation seems an odd means of addressing such a grim tragedy, but it gives Maitland the creative freedom to effectively tell a suspenseful, harrowing and moving story. But Maitland follows the consequences to the present day. News footage of recent mass shootings makes a point that seems incredible after the sobering horror we have seen.

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As one survivor notes of the 1966 attack, "One of the truths I learned is that monsters walk among us." They still do.

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