Tower

Providing the inspiration for both Peter Bogdanovich’s film Targets and Kinky Friedman’s “The Ballad of Charles Whitman,” on August 1, 1966, an ex-marine shot his wife and mother before climbing to the 27th floor observation deck of the clock tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Once there, he began randomly firing at pedestrians around the university and shopping district. resulting in 16 deaths and 43 injuries including his first shooting victim, Claire Wilson, a pregnant teenager. Over the course of the 90-minute incident, a Greek tragedy takes shape producing heroes and cowards, survivors and victims, as director Keith Maitland uses archival TV news footage, rotoscopic animation in the vein of Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life and actual radio broadcasts on that day to reconstruct history, focusing on bystanders’ and participants’ retelling of the first mass media school shooting! Charles Whitman is shown only as a child in magazine photos and his motives and procedures are buried as the audience is left with the uncertainty felt by his victims on that fateful day.

[NR]