Roger Ebert Has Passed Away

He meant a great deal to me. More than any other influence, he is the reason I have grown to love the movies. For the past twelve years the first thing I’ve done after the end credits rolled on any film I’ve watched was to rush to the computer to read Ebert’s review. I didn’t always agree with him, but I always loved what he had to say. He proved that written criticism could be both penetrating and simple, scholarly and beautiful. But he could also censure films like no other. Of the 2001 Tom Green movie Freddy Got Fingered he wrote:

“This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

I will never forget that line, or how funny I thought it was the first time I read it. Many more of his funniest take-downs can be found here: Ebert’s 50 harshest movie reviews. And some of his best reviews have been collected  here.

His complicated relationship with At the Movies costar Gene Siskel became part of popular culture throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Their friendship is probably best summed up by Stuart Cleland, associate producer for the show:

“I think they felt about each other the way they felt about the movies: Thrilled and delighted when the medium lived up to its promise; sad and disappointed when it fell short. But they were never willing to give up on either relationship. They loved the movies—and each other—too much for that.”

Today I have read many articles both from critics and fans about how Ebert has touched their lives. Here is one of my favorite, from an anonymous commenter on NPR’s eulogy page:

“Man, this guy was one of the best people, critics, writers, whatever. I am gonna miss him terribly, as much as you can miss someone you don’t know, I’ll miss him. The guy was a fantastic writer, on just about any subject you can think of, his blog and reviews were a can’t miss for me…In his reviews we learned not just about whether the movie was good; we learned about Ebert, we learned about humanity, we learned about the nature of art, we learned about ourselves.”

Of course, there are far too many great links to share about Ebert’s death (and life), but here are a few of the best recent ones:

An oral history of Siskel and Ebert

NPR remembers Ebert

Esquire’s wonderful 2010 interview

Thoughts on Ebert from the AV club