Monday, 6 February 2017


The permanence of fact is challenged by the impermanence of emotion, memory and expression, reaching an ideal conclusion in artistic representation. Can justice truly be done in retrospect? And to what extent is it the duty of art to exploit its innate potential for an appropriately accurate representation? Keith Maitland's Tower functions beautifully as a most thorough document of a most neglected American tragedy, arguably as relevant today as it was upon occurring, more than 50 years ago. It is, however, in that very beauty that it assumes a role beyond mere documentation, in the inherently contradictory space occupied by something crafted out of present and past, immediacy and nostalgia, permanent fact and impermanent interpretation alike. Tower is the probing, incisive account of one specific event, yet equally the deeper-still exploration of the ability and the responsibility of cinema in serving such a purpose. Maitland and his subjects collectively reconstruct and reconsider, and seem, in their stimulating uncertainty, to argue as much for as against this earnestly-assumed role. Maitland's approach is fundamentally sympathetic, and his artistic devices thus expressive in a highly affecting manner - they're central to establishing Tower's crucial correlative between what it says explicitly and implicitly, between what it implies and what its viewer infers. And the film's lack of clarity in its implications, though formed resolutely through compassion and honesty, is in fact its most provocative attribute, and its most ripe for inference on our part.