This review was originally published as part of my coverage of Hot Docs 2016
The United State’s first mass school shooting is recounted in Tower. On August 1, 1966, a lone sniper climb atop the tower at the University of Texas and began to unleash a violent assault. Through the eyes of many of those present, the events of these terrible day are recreated through rotoscoped reenactments.
Tower is a very unique hybrid of documentary and narrative dramatization. The film utilizes actors to recreate the events of this school shooting with some beautifully rendered rotoscope animation. The events of this terrible day are shown from the perspective of a number of people, including pregnant student Claire Wilson, who’s one of the first to be shot, news reporter Neal Spelce, and police officer Ramiro Martinez.
Tower can be seen as an example of using the documentary medium to create a very compelling cinematic experience. The rotoscoped animation is quite well done, with the visuals switching from colour to black and white to reflect the mood of the events. There is even an element of suspense to the film, as it is unknown whether the subjects survived this ordeal, until their real-life counterparts appear on screen. Altogether, Tower is a quite unique and very well done dramatization of this school shooting.