Remembering Roger Ebert

Even when the news came that Roger Ebert's cancer had returned, he still put on a brave front and looked toward the future. Despite announcing that he would have to cut back on his movie reviews, he still hoped to continue writing and was launching a Kickstarter campaign to resurrect his At the Movies television show. I was going to write about Kickstarter, but then the even sadder news came that Ebert had passed away. He was an inspiration, battling until the very end. 

I'll write that Kickstarter essay soon, but now is the time to reflect on the life and impact of someone who was not only a great writer, but a true lover of cinema. His excellent writing was no doubt a result of that love, that passion, shining through in the words he shared, even when he lost his voice due to the failed surgeries to combat his illness.

 As a critic, he elevated the analysis of motion pictures, while popularizing the form. He could hold his own with academic film theorists and "average Joe" pop culture fans. Even when I disagreed with his opinions, it was still enlightening to hear or read his ideas.  When he and Gene Siskel teamed up, inventing the simple yet brilliant "thumbs up, thumbs down" rating system (even if others deserve the credit for originating the premise of a TV show featuring dueling critics), it quickly connected with audiences everywhere, launching countless imitators.  There was more substance to their critiques, however, than merely flashing a thumb -- their banter was loaded with wit and thought-provoking observations. 

Film criticism has changed dramatically over the years.  Some bemoan an apparent downward spiral as professional critics lose their jobs while online bloggers proliferate, making the adage that "everyone's a critic" seem all too real.  Rather than admonish new media, Roger Ebert embraced it. Social networks gave him an outlet beyond TV, print books, and newspapers to express his point of view. Even when cancer took away his ability to eat solid food or to speak, he was able to continue communicating through his wonderful blog and through a digital voice program on his computer.

His reviews continued to be as insightful as ever, but his blog posts, where he covered topics beyond just movies, giving readers a glimpse of his daily struggles and how he overcame them, were the real treasures to read. He inspired me and many others to fight any challenge that might arise, never giving up hope, never losing the motivation to continue pursuing one's passion. His words live on as evidence of the poetry of cinema in all its iterations.

Roger Ebert will be missed, but his legacy lives on every time two or more people have a discussion about the movies. May he rest in peace.


Christopher Nolan quits INTERSTELLAR and decides to do one more film on BATMAN.

Nick said…
I hadn't heard that news, David, and I can't seem to verify it anywhere else. Personally, I'm looking forward to Interstellar. It would be nice to see Nolan spearhead the Justice League movie, though. Or maybe take a shot at bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen.
sorry it is something i wrote to tempt you to read my alternate version of Nolan's batman trilogy-if you can then please take a look-sorry
Nick said…
No problem. Thanks for reading.