Roger Ebert died today at the age of 70.
This is the official Chicago Sun-Times obituary for Roger, in its entirety.
Roger Ebert loved movies.
Except for those he hated.
On April 3rd, he posted a letter to readers on the Sun-Times' site, informing them that he would be reviewing fewer movies, and that his presence would be lessened online. This was disconcerting to many film fans, as there are a large group of movie lovers who have never known a time in which there wasn't a Roger Ebert, steering the discourse on film. Unfortunately, we're all going to have to get used to that concept, and a hell of a lot faster than I, personally, was ready for.
Part of what made him such an inspiration wasn't just his skill as a writer; it was that he, more than most reviewers, made it known that appreciating film meant appreciating life outside of film. He didn't just write about movies, he wrote about food, friends, politics, tragedy, triumph, comedy, and all of the myriad experiences that come together to make a full, well-lived life. And he applied the lessons learned while living that life to the movies he watched. He contextualized film in a way not many other critics did, and that's a big reason why he reached so many people. It's no surprise that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were why I thought "film critic" was something I would like to be; It's the exact same reason most film critics under 50 are what they are.
I don't know if there's an afterlife, but if there is, I'm fairly certain he and Gene just picked up from wherever it was their last fight left off. I really wish I could hear it.
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