I’ve always loved movies. As long as I can remember I can remember that I love movies. Growing up in small rural town I didn’t get to see many when I was a kid, and what I did see came courtesy of something we old folks called “the video store” which you younguns probably have no concept of today. A store that sold and rented videos and that’s all. Weird, I know.
One of the outlets I had as a kid for hearing about movies and of finding out what movie were good or bad or even just what was coming out was to watch Siskel and Ebert on TV. When he was finally forced to leave his show due to his illness I basically stopped watching. Siskel had passed away in 1999 and I never really connected with anyone else on the show.
Now it appears I won’t get the chance as today Roger Ebert has died. This makes me very sad.
“No good film is too long,” he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. “No bad movie is short enough.”
Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.
He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December, and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.”
I actually think that Ebert became a much better writer after he lost his ability to speak. While he lost his physical voice he honed his written voice every day and never before was his wit and charm were never more apparent.
I tend to think of myself as a film lover with opinions rather than a critic but if there was every a level to aspire to in this game, it was his.
I’m going to leave you now with his TED talk, recorded well after he lost his ability to speak but still one of th emost endearing talks I’ve ever seen thanks to his candor and sharp wit, and the support of his wife and friends.