Archive for April, 2013

10
Apr
13

My Hero: Roger Ebert

I have been meaning to start a blog reflecting my love of cinema for some time now and my sadness over the recent passing of film critic Roger Ebert has reminded me not only just how much I love movies, but also of those who facilitated that enjoyment and allowed it to grow. That being said, I would like to dedicate my first post to this amazing critic, who taught me that the love of film did not have to be trivial and that movies were a fascinating, integral part of our culture. Much has been said about Ebert since his death last week, all of which has been universally positive. He has been an influential figure in the lives of many lovers of cinema and I am no exception. While I obviously never knew Ebert personally, he has been nothing but a source of inspiration and entertainment since I was a teenager. I’ll start by saying that though I do enjoy watching old episodes of At the Movies, which featured Ebert and his reviewing partner Gene Siskel, I have not seen enough episodes to consider myself a devout “fan” of the series. My first impression of Roger Ebert was his writing and that is what has resonated with me the most over the years. It is heartbreaking to know that we will no longer be presented with his beautiful prose, written with a passion for movies and an appreciation for humanity. Yes, Ebert could be scathing, but always looked for the good in even the worst of films. If he found nothing of merit, you knew there was a reason for it. He also was not afraid to say he liked a movie even if it seemed to be universally hated. As a teenager who loved movies with a passion I didn’t fully understand at the time, it was nice to know that someone took the art of film as seriously as I did, even if that “someone” was male and decades my senior. From his writing, you could tell that humanity, hope and compassion were all elements he saw great value in and if a movie didn’t reflect these same values, then he didn’t value the movie. He spoke of each film with such love of the craft of cinema and without a hint of irony, unless of course it was necessary to his point. He took everything seriously from the stylistic elements to the motivation of the characters to the message he felt the filmmakers were trying to convey, always putting his own spin on what each film meant for the art of cinema, as well as society as a whole. He had a distinct sense of morality when looking at the content of films, tearing apart those that contained nothing but ugliness and exploitation, while still understanding that many situations warranted a lot of moral grayness and complexity. It at times seemed to matter less to him that we liked our main characters, but more that we understood their motivations. It was my love of Ebert that inspired me to begin writing my own reviews in my spare time, though I am certain my early efforts were laughably bad and included more commentary on the physical appearance of actors such as George Clooney than one might find in any given Ebert review. Ebert and I did not always agree on the merits of every feature film, but there was one thing we always had in common: we both loved movies and took them very seriously. It is a shame that we have lost one of the most prominent film critics of all time and it is comforting to know that Ebert will remain immortal through his writings and that future generations may be influenced by him. While I could go on for days about all the things I love about Roger Ebert, it really works best to just look at his work for yourself by reading archive reviews at http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews, where you will find all of the qualities I have mentioned and more. With that, all I can really say is farewell Mr. Ebert. You will be greatly missed and definitely not forgotten.

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