Roger Ebert, 1942-2013

ebertThe news is all over the Internet right now, but in case you haven’t heard yet, Roger Ebert passed away today after an incredibly long battle with cancer — a cancer that stole his voice but never took away his “voice.”  If you know what I mean.  Which I bet you do.

Ebert was a special fellow for me — I used to watch his TV show all the time when I was a kid, and his passionate arguments with Gene Siskel, the “film snob” to Ebert’s “film lover,” always delighted me.  Roger Ebert is not why I love movies — he’s not even why I started reviewing movies.  But he’s certainly why I have seen as many movies as I have.  When Ebert rated a film highly, I almost always sought it out — history and experience had taught me that if The Ebe dug something, I was likely to dig it too, and this was the case easily 90% of the time.

One of the things I loved so much about Ebert was the fact he had very few pretensions when it came to film.  He wasn’t afraid to admit he had a blast watching a thoroughly crappy movie, and he had equal appreciation for junk as for genius.  I’m like that myself, which is one of reasons why his column in the Chicago Sun-Times was always the first place I went when I was looking for something to watch.

When the cancer took away his ability to speak a few years ago, Ebert dove down deep into the Internet, becoming a powerfully effective (not to mention affective) Facebooker, Tweeter, and blogger.  His courageous candor about what he was experiencing as a cancer warrior never failed to astonish and impress me.  This piece, complete with photos that can’t have been easy for him to share with the world at the time, struck me at the time as one of the bravest things I’d ever seen online (“Leading with My Chin,” about his search for a prosthetic jaw after having to have several bones removed from his face because of the cancer):

The amount of respect I have for this man can’t even be put into words.  At least, not by me.  Not right now.  I knew this day was coming, and I wasn’t surprised when it arrived, but I’m still profoundly sad it is here.

There will be gazillions of people all over the web writing little things like this today, so I’m not going to try to say much more.  Other people can get all brilliant about it. I just wanted to mark this loss, and to share it with you, and to tell Roger, wherever he is, how much he will be missed.

See you at the movies.

2 Responses to “Roger Ebert, 1942-2013”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Thank you for your post. I was so sad to read the news. For as long as I can remember, as soon as I was done watching a movie, I would go online and read what Ebert had to say about it. From now on, my movie watching experience will feel incomplete. He was funny, smart and thoughtful. I will miss him.

  2. RogerBW Says:

    In the UK, I didn’t hear about him until after Siskel and Ebert was over; but he was certainly a formative influence on all the reviewers I’ve stuck with, and I always found his reviews illuminating.

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