After continually watching films that expose the wretched nature of man, it was nice to get a break from all that by watching Tower. That sure sounds strange considering Tower tells the real-life story about the first ever college-shooting in the history of the United States, but although that’s what stirs the narrative, Tower is a captivating documentary that pays reverence to the charity and benevolence of mankind. Almost no time whatsoever is given to the murderer on the tower, and rightly so, because this is the story about the people who stood up before the atrocities being committed in their community, not about the guy who tried to wreck their benevolent community.
By combining archival footage with some gorgeous use of rotoscope animation, director Keith Maitland illuminates us about an important moment in history that usually gets obscured by the countless other school shootings we’ve had to endure as a nation ever since. As I stated before, Maitland intelligently chooses to spend the majority of the film with the victims of the shooter instead of the shooter itself, painting him as a senseless and violent ghost that’s contrasted with the well-rounded, loving individuals seen during the majority of Tower. Maitland also intensely chooses to focus on the concept of charity, not necessarily the giving-act we understand by today, but charity in its archaic Christian understanding, charity as the love of humankind.
The states of cowardice and fearfulness are clearly exposed in how people react to such a horrifying situation, but when Maitland zooms out from the individual and analyzes the Austin population as a collective, the most state of mind people exhibit is that of defiance towards the looming evil, a willingness to simply do good. By starting the film on the most horrifying and pessimistic note possible and then moving towards the light of goodness, Maitland constructs this heartfelt journey by which we can experience how a myriad of distinct individuals can come together for a singular common good.
Keith Maitland’s documentary is a wonderful testament about what is right with mankind. In contrasting the loving community of Austin with the senseless acts of a twisted sharpshooter, Maitland forges this fantastic look at a generally overlooked chapter of American history that fortifies the human-spirit in proving it is indeed willing to do what is right in the face of what it recognizes as wrong. Illuminating, captivating, and beautiful, Tower stands as proof of mankind’s abhorrence of senseless violence and willingness to do what is right.