Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
In 1966, University of Texas student Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the highest tower on campus armed with a high-powered rifle and proceeded to randomly shoot passerby below. A dozen innocent people died and twice that many were injured. As a black, scathing and at times hilarious political satire, The Delicate Art of the Rifle takes this event and twists it into something fresh and experimental, a narrative that criticizes the current notion of narrative by stripping facts of their historical context and placing them into an absurd realm punctuated by paranoia and arbitrary violence. Hailed by the filmmakers, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based film production company/ artist group the Cambrai Liberation Collection, as a "brazen art-house action-adventure," The Delicate Art of the Rifle is not an easy film, nor is it a perfect film, but those who stick with it will be rewarded with the rare opportunity to see a refreshingly intelligent bit of modern American cinema. The tale unfolds from the viewpoint of Jay, roommate of the sniper Walt Whitman. Jay is first seen after having spent a night on the catwalk of the campus theater. Below him, a group rehearses a "a post modernist fashion show version of Hamlet. Later that day, Jay and one of his professors, Dr. Boaz head out for coffee at Foucault Tower, a 27-story super dorm that contains everything a student might ever need or want. Unfortunately, before they arrive shots ring out and Boaz is killed along with many others. For some reason Jay remains unscathed. Suddenly he hears a disembodied voice from above. It is his best friend Walt. Not realizing that he is the killer, and thinking his friend is endangering himself, Jay rushes up the tower to save him. En route he meets a number of strange characters including a girl with a thing for frosting cup cakes, a psych major in dire need of sleep, and a band of computer dweebs lead by a demented hacker. Once atop Foucault, Jay listens while Walt spins an incredible tale of delusion, paranoia and despair involving a metaphysical virus that erases people from history. Believing it has already taken his girl friend, and realizing that he too has it, Walt makes one final request of Jay before the student swat team moves in for the final confrontation. The story itself ends on a mysterious, even cosmic note.
murder, sniper, campus, friendship, roommate, killing, mental-illness, paranoia