|Ebert before his long-term struggle with Cancer. He was diagnosed in 2002 and has now passed away, aged 70, in 2013|
It would be remiss not to pen a few words on the passing of Roger Ebert. He was after all the granddaddy of contemporary film criticism, and along with similarly deceased bedfellow Gene Siskel, a pivotal figure in moving criticism into the public consciousness and away from its stuffier, academic legacy. He was an ardent lover of films and a terrific writer, communicating excitement, passion and cultural dexterity in all of his pieces, displaying a thorough and accessible understanding of the art form to which his professional career was dedicated. Ebert passed away mere days ago, On April 4th 2013. The internet has been thronged with deserved memorials and cute anecdotes from a variety of famed sources, but most touching is the amount of love simple movie fans are lavishing upon the man. The number of people confessing that Ebert’s televisual criticism enabled them to harbour an appreciation of film is staggering; certainly it’s the accolade America’s favourite critic would take most to heart. Of course he had his fair share of tangible benchmarks as well, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and in 2005 became the first cinematic journalist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That many celebrated and gifted artists have yet to attain such honour only emphasises the importance of Ebert to the industry. His absence will be keenly felt.
For me Ebert was one of the first major critics I enjoyed any sort of exposure toward, his reviews and star-ratings always worth digesting before making any major filmic decisions. Of course, as time passed and my own personal tastes refined, I found myself disagreeing more and more with Ebert. However his work was always to be read and considered, his infectious admiration of cinema and fluid prose providing as much enjoyment as many titles he reviewed. Ebert also holds a special place in my heart because he was a critic who actually wrote scripts. He blurred the line between artist and observer, a border that in the age of internet forums and fanboy balderdash has become increasingly firm. He understood movies because he took the time to try and write them, which is truly commendable. He also remains the only dude on the planet (bar me) who thought “The Omen” circa 2006 was an improvement over the original. For that alone, I thank him.
I hope the projectors don’t conk out in the afterlife, and heck, he made the right move to call it a day before the release of "Grown Ups 2". I guarantee they don’t have that in heaven.
An article by Daniel Kelly, 2013