Towers Open Fire; a collaboration between Antony Balch and William S. Burroughs from 1963
Cast: Antony Balch, William S. Burroughs, David Jacobs, Bachoo Sen, Alexander Trocchi
"The first film works Burroughs was involved in are also the ones he had the most involvement in. These were the collaborative avant-garde films of the 1960’s, the same period as the development of many of the literary techniques and concepts just mentioned.(…)
Towers Open Fire was the first film to be made, shot between 1961 and 1962, and was mainly a collaboration between Burroughs and Balch, although Somerville and Gysin are credited and their influences do appear in the film in some form. It is a black and white, hand held (shot by Balch himself), encoded structural piece that is “a cinematic interpretation of many of Burroughs’ major themes.” (p.170, Sargeant, 2001) As Sargeant goes on to say, it is not a cut-up itself, although it does contain the first evidence of the technique being applied directly to film (as The Cut-Ups expands on) in a short cut-up sequence shot on a quayside in Paris.
A “collage of the main themes and situations or ‘routines’ that appear in Burroughs cut-up novels of the period” (Bridgett, date unknown), Towers portrays “the destruction of the stock market and disintegration of the Board”, as described by Sargeant. This is shown by Burroughs himself in camouflage and a gas mask, brandishing an ‘orgasm gun’ and shooting photographs of families and stereotypical images of social happiness. Effectively destroying the pictorial form of language and the conventional representation of happiness. When Burroughs commands “Towers open fire!”, sound waves are emitted by antennae to attack the Boards’ senses.”
William Burroughs in Film – Part 2: The 60s Film Experiments By Lord Summerisle, via: http://www.cineoutsider.com/articles/stories/w/williamburroughs/william_burroughs2.html
Towers Open Fire: William Burroughs and Alexander Trocchi; http://www.blogcitylights.com/2013/04/29/towers-open-fire-william-burroughs-and-alexander-trocchi/