8.0/10
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31 user 70 critic

Tower (2016)

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1:55 | Trailer
Animation, testimony, and archival footage combine to relate the events of August 1, 1966 when a gunman opened fire from the University of Texas clock tower, killing 16 people.

Director:

Keith Maitland
18 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Violett Beane ... Claire Wilson
Louie Arnette Louie Arnette ... Ramiro Martinez
Blair Jackson ... Houston McCoy
Monty Muir Monty Muir ... Neal Spelce
Chris Doubek ... Allen Crum
Reece Everett Ryan ... Alfred(Alfie) McAlister
Josephine McAdam ... Rita Starpattern
Aldo Ordoñez Aldo Ordoñez ... Aleck Hernandez Jr.
Vicky Illk ... Brenda Bell
John Fitch John Fitch ... Billy Speed
Karen Davidson Karen Davidson ... Margaret C. Berry
Jeremy Brown Jeremy Brown ... Jerry Day
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Séamus Bolivar-Ochoa Séamus Bolivar-Ochoa ... John Fox
Cole Bresnehen Cole Bresnehen ... James Love
Walter Cronkite ... Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Nearly fifty years ago, a gunman rode the elevator to the twenty-seventh floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. TOWER, an animated and action-packed documentary, shares the untold story of that day - when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 February 2017 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Wieża See more »

Filming Locations:

Austin, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$101,987

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$101,987
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Whitman is portrayed by Kurt Russell in the 1975 made-for-TV movie The Deadly Tower. See more »

Quotes

John Fox: I remember looking at the Tower, of course, a lot. And from the Main Mall you can see there's a biblical line from the Bible. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." I've thought about it. One of the truths I learned... Is that there are monsters that walk among us. There are people out there that think unthinkable thoughts and then do unthinkable things.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sardonicast: Sardonicast #30: Climax, After Hours (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Hollow Creek
Written by Matthew Morrey
Courtesy of Snowbeard
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User Reviews

 
Beautiully told first person account of survival and courage
22 April 2016 | by dmgreerSee all my reviews

I cried three or four times, maybe five times while watching Tower.

Told with a combination of still photos, grainy 8mm film footage from the incident itself, and rotoscopic animation, it begins in the middle, with the radio announcement some tens of minutes into the incident, lingering only briefly to set the mood.

Then it switches to Claire talking about just before things started happening. The actress playing Claire is rotoscoped, which is an animation technique that looks both real and animated at the same time, because it's like tracing over the actual images. It's a good technique for this type of documentary, because at once it distances you from the actor, yet brings you closer to the person the actor is portraying, and of the age they were when the events took place.

In this way the actors explain things using the words of the real person who was being interviewed, and they also appear as characters in the re-enactment of the events. Because it's rotoscopy, the emotions of the actors carry over and you're able to relate to their feelings. The rotoscopy also enables the director to place people in the Mall without them actually being there, so there was no need to clear the Mall or to ask for permission to film. And it allows for a special touch when Claire tells of her fiancé.

Claire Wilson is the anchor of the story, having been the first one known shot, and also having been 8 months pregnant at the time. She lay out on the concrete of the Mall in front of the tower for over an hour in the August heat, her dead fiancé beside her, helped only by Rita Starpattern, who ran out to help despite the continued sniping.

Other main stories are of the two policemen who killed the sniper, a citizen who helped them, another policeman who went to help at the top of the tower, a freshman with his own story of heroism, a paperboy who was shot, the radio announcer who narrated and warned of the events, and a young woman who only watched.

Rita Starpattern appears only through Claire's narrative, because she died of cancer before anyone interviewed her. Some of the others had been interviewed before they died, and a few more, including Claire, were interviewed for the documentary.

The last part of the film is inter cut with the interviews of the real people whose avatars have been narrating the action. By saying Claire is the anchor, I don't mean to discount the contributions of the others, most of whom performed heroically in a desperate situation.

The sound of the movie is evocative, with music from the time, announcements on the radio, the cicadas of Summer, and of course the incessant gunfire.

I saw the film at the Dallas International Film Festival, so the director was there to answer questions at the end. Answers I recall were that the sniper, who does not appear in the film, made a midnight call on his music teacher, saying that he was very upset and needed to talk. He sat down at the piano and played Claire de Lune, and then said that was what he needed, and left.

Another was that Rita Starpattern never spoke of her actions that day. He said many people in Austin, where she had lived, gasped when they saw her name.

One man in the audience said he knew the sniper's CO in the Marines, who said that the sniper was very much into his role as a killer, and looked forward to being able to kill people legally.

It's odd to think of something that happened in one's own lifetime as a period piece, but younger viewers will understand more of what life was like before ubiquitous global communication. After the shooting, everyone involved lost contact with each other, something unimaginable today. A local radio announcer was the sole contact for news, and also served to warn people about what was going on. At least there were home phones, radio, TV, and 8mm cameras, so I guess it wasn't that primitive.


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