Thursday, April 04, 2013
Roger Ebert (1942-2013)
Posted by Courtney Small
Legendary film critic passes away at age 70, and the world will not be the same without him. While the news of Roger Ebert’s passing has saddened many film lovers around the world, the out pouring of love showered on both Ebert and his wife Chaz warms the heart greatly. Roger Ebert was more than just a film critic, he was a teacher and champion of cinema to many who were uninitiated in the power film.
Like many other film bloggers of my age group, I grew up watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on At the Movies every weekend. I would religiously tape every episode, even though I was not old enough to see half of the films they discussed in theatres. For me it was not the “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” aspect that captivated me, but learning about all the films that I had never heard of that excited me. This is something that did not change as I got older. It was because of Siskel & Ebert that I discovered films like His Girl Friday, Zero Effect, Nosferatu, Farwell My Concubine, Women on the Verge of a Nevous Breakdown, Raise the Red Lantern, One False Move, and The Crying Game to name a few.
It was not until just before University that I started reading Ebert’s reviews in print online. What struck me most was not only how well written his reviews were, but also how accessible they were for the average person to pick up and read. He never spoke down to his audience nor was he ashamed to admit if he liked a film that the majority of critics panned. Furthermore, he was not embarrassed to say if he was unable to crack the meaning of a film.
I was reminded of this again late last year after a routine visit to the local library introduced me to a film that left me baffled. I had picked up Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad on a whim and found myself struggling to decipher all the symbolism in the film. After pondering the film for a few days I decided to look up what Ebert thought of it expecting to get his usual blend of insightful commentary. Yet I was surprised to discover that even Ebert, who had seen the film numerous times, was also unable to grasp everything that Resnais was aiming for. However, Ebert’s review still managed to open my eyes to a train of thought that I had not considered about the film.
Roger Ebert always had the ability to teach and inspire in everything he wrote. There was always an insightful point that you would be left to ponder with each review or commentary. Everyone from the general filmgoer to the film obsessed blogger has been impacted by Roger Ebert in some way. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ebert in person, I was just too shy to capitalize on the opportunities at TIFF, I feel like I lost a relative today. Roger Ebert was, and will continue to be, an important aspect of my love for film. I look forward to the day when my son is old enough to understand the legacy that Roger Ebert has left on the world of cinema.