The passing of Roger Ebert, a great movie critic


This from his paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, a few minutes ago:

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

“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.

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…

Ebert had announced a few days ago on his blog that cancer had struck again, and that he would be taking a “leave of presence,” dialing back his own involvement and running mostly reviews from others on his website. “I am not going away,” he said.

If only he could have kept his promise.

I had come to appreciate Ebert more than ever in recent years, as I embraced social media. He was an avid practitioner, Tweeting all hours of the day and night on all topics, using the new medium to make up for his inability to speak. I thought it great that he could do that, and not be cut off from the world.

But now he has been cut off from it. That’s sad news, and I thought I’d share it.

4 thoughts on “The passing of Roger Ebert, a great movie critic

  1. Burl Burlingame

    Roger used to come out to Hawaii fairly often, and we’d generally have a short meal and a long, cheerful debate about stuff, but not generally about movies. He was the living embodiment of the “self-examined life,” and a man whose curiosity and passion for art and life knew few bounds. Alas he pretty much stopped traveling when the jaw was excised, but we kept up through the ‘net. Goodbye, buddy.

  2. Doug Ross

    I was working in Chicago last year about this time and happened to pass Ebert on the street on my walk back to my hotel. My memory tells me that he did not have his face covered. I admired his decision to go out in the world as he was and not to hide away.

  3. bud

    Roger Ebert was one of those rare individuals that was simply impossible not to like. His soft-spoken style was refreshingly different from so many loud, in your face critics. And I usually agreed with him. One of his most memorable reviews was for the Ben Affleck flop Gigli. While universally panned Ebert found some modest appeal about the movie. And while still giving it his iconic “thumbs down” rating Ebert refused to brand it as the worst movie of all time. Somehow finding a bit of good in even the worst of movies seems refreshing for profession that all to often relishes in the negative. I will greatly miss Roger Ebert.

  4. Bryan D. Caskey

    As a guy who loves movies, I’ll miss Ebert’s wit. I certainly didn’t agree with him politically, but I’d love to have had a chance to sit down with him and talk about movies. My favorite movie criticism of his:

    “If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.” -Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen review, June 23, 2009


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