In Memoriam: Roger Ebert

1365120570_1When I was a younger lad, I remember some film ads on tele had the words “… and two thumbs up from Ebert & Roeper” announced over the clips from said film. And without knowing why, I knew when those names were on the preview, it meant it was something good. It was only when I was older that I understood why those names, one in particular, held such weight and authority to them.

At the Movies came into my life at a very confusing and quite frankly terrifying time. Few people truly are prepared for life after high school. I was (and in some sence still am) one of them, wandering around in college, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.  And one dreary night I somehow came across the show about midway through the episode. It was simple: two men discussing the worth of the weeks new releases.

It was magical too. Something enjoyable had possessed my body for the first time in months. I couldn’t wait for the next week when the new episode came on. Recorded it on the DVR and watched it multiple times. And around about the sixth episode, a thought came across my mind: “… maybe I could do that. Maybe that’s what I want to do in life.” And the result is the website you’re reading this on now. And for that, among others, I am eternally thankful to Roger Ebert.

I apologize that this has so far been about me. A bit self-indulgent on my part. But that’s one of things about reminiscing and grieving: You think about what someone means to you and how they have effected you. Roger was, and will in many ways continue to be, my go-to critic. Many call him the common man’s critic, but don’t let that diminish the eloquence of his writing. Even if you disagreed with what he said, you can respect the way he delivered his opinion. Many times when stuck on one of my reviews, I read his writing as a type of lubricate to get my own flowing.

One of the other things Roger taught me, which I only learned today with the aid of hindsight, is how much he loved life and in turn you should as well. He was not shy about his battle with cancer. He could have easily faded out of the public eye, but he decided not to. He instead decided to use a new voice, one where he utilized social media in a way few have yet. He didn’t slow down either. Last year he knocked out over 300 reviews, along with other articles and blog entries. He stayed busy and up to the end planned on more.

roger

Will there ever be someone quite like him in the field of film journalism? Is there someone else out there who can command such authority over this subject? In an age when anyone can make a site and fling out their opinion (finger pointed staunchly at my face), does the public even listen? I make my meager paycheck working at a theater. And it is evident based on observation that studios are quite content churning out mediocrity and the public are more than willing to pay, sit, and dribble while films with heart and story struggle. The weight that the name Ebert had is needed again.

I don’t know what awaits for us after we expel our last craggy breath. Whatever you believe, there is only faith and no absolute certainty. I’d like to think though that Roger and Gene Siskel are sitting in the balcony, waiting for the next great film to roll.

To celebrate his life, if you need something to do this weekend, why not pick a film from his Great Movies articles? The full list of movies are available here. For me, if time permits, I plan on watching Sofia Coppola’s brilliant Lost in Translation. But whatever you do, in the words of Roger, I’ll see you at the movies.

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One Response to “In Memoriam: Roger Ebert”

  1. “Mr. Ebert — who said he saw 500 films a year and reviewed half of them — was once asked what movie he thought was shown over and over again in heaven, and what snack would be free of charge and calories there.

    “Citizen Kane’ and vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream,” he answered.”

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