Some thoughts on TOWER: A documentary worth viewing

In the year 1966, mass shootings weren’t what they are today. Rare and awful, history was made on August 1 of that fateful year when a sniper named Charles Whitman, age 25, killed his mother and wife at 3am. Hours later he set himself up on top of the University of Texas clock tower and began to shoot people in a savage style..

A new Netflix documentary captures the essence of that date, the raw emotions that still exist, and presents the event in a spirited and often chilling animated style.. The film is called TOWER..

From the description: 

August 1st 1966 was the day our innocence was shattered. A sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the iconic University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes in what was a previously unimaginable event. TOWER combines archival footage with rotoscopic animation of the dramatic day, based entirely on first person testimonies from witnesses, heroes and survivors, in a seamless and suspenseful retelling of the unfolding tragedy. The film highlights the fear, confusion, and visceral realities that changed the lives of those present, and the rest of us, forever – a day when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

You can’t help but become immediately enthralled by the style of storytelling. The real footage and photos coupled with the animated and dramatic testimony and firsthand accounts achieves something I have not really seen from other documentaries. 

The film from Keith Maitland. It is 82 minutes long. Originally, the film had $70,000 in donations from 300 people. Eventually UT alumni offered up a matching grant.

It is a worthwhile watch, historical in nature but also gets to the deepest part of our humanity, and inhumanity. One more chilling aspect is a brief snippet of news footage featuring Walter Cronkite, who decries on the air violence in media that seems to be causing violence in real life–along with that nations who teach their sons to kill, and the false notion that might is right.  Since that 1966 mass murder, so many others have taken place. So many more deaths at the hands of trigger happy murderers..So many other needless deaths.

This documentary seems to not only be a story of what happened that sunny hot day, but also a foreboding film of the violence our nation had yet to see.. This, after all, was even before Vietnam war footage drowned out love and hippies of the 60s and replaced it with a sense of anger and hostility in the 70s.. rage that was ingrained in society and since then passed down for each generation to deal with.   War in the 21st century has started it all anew again.

The violence that the clock tower saw that day was shocking then..Commonplace now.

By the way, TOWER has about, oh, a unanimous approval from 76 reviewers. Not bad at all.

I highly recommend this documentary.