This has been a heartbreaking day for myself, and all movie reviewers across the nation as we have lost the most influential and monumental aspect of our hobby and/or occupation. It was announced yesterday, April 4th, 2013, that beloved film critic Roger Ebert had passed away of the cancer he had been battling for years. Ebert, host of the shows Siskel & Ebert and the later Ebert & Roeper, was 70 when he died, and what a legacy he left behind. It is with great sorrow that I am writing this, and I know that not many will read it, but I feel like since I review movies on my blog simply for fun and I enjoy every minute of it, I should take a little time to write a tribute to one of my life’s most influential inspirations.
I have been reviewing movies for a while now, not too long, but a while, and even before I began writing my own reviews, I have always been a follower of Roger Ebert. Whether it be going to the store and being giddy when I saw that it had a good recommendation quoted by “Ebert & Roeper” or just watching various episodes of the review shows he did. He has been such a meaningful part of my life in so many ways, but here are a few things that he taught me in terms of filmmaking and movie reviewing.
One thing he taught me, and probably the most important to me right now, is the matter of opinion. A lot of critics tend to give a movie a 4 star review or an A+ just because it has above a 90% on the tomato-meter. Honestly, what is the point of that? If you are going to disguise your authentic opinion just because you don’t want to stand out, why do you even write reviews? Ebert overcame that and just let out his opinion. And sure, some of his reviews I don’t quite agree with, such as him only giving The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises 3 stars out of 4 yet giving movies like Premium Rush, The Possession, and Hit & Run 3 ½ stars, but that’s the beauty of Ebert’s philosophy: It allows him to stand out and allow the reader to become interested in why he did or did not like a certain movie. A major instance in which Roger liked a movie that virtually everyone else hated was the 2009 film Knowing which currently holds a 33% on rottentomatoes.com, but Ebert rewarded the film 4 stars out of 4, to many people’s opposition. I personally really like Knowing and am glad he gave that film the praise it deserves, but the moral of that incident is simply be yourself and don’t try to impress anyone. Another thing about Ebert is that he gave a lot of movies 4 stars out of 4. So many that they are compiled into a number of books. Many people said “You give out too many stars,” but that’s what makes him distinct from all other film critics. You see, if Roger Ebert liked a movie, he liked a movie. Period.
Another thing about Ebert is that he made me appreciate movies for what they are. Not what I used to think they were, but what they are. Art. Movies are art, and a beautiful art. The thing I love about movies is that they combine the three major art forms (pictures, music, and writing) into one and the results are tremendous (most of the time). If you think movies are just some sort of entertainment to allow to escape (and some of them are), just read some of Ebert’s blog entries and I’m telling you your eyes will be opened. His stance on and love for film is something you just don’t see anymore, and with him gone, I’m hoping it doesn’t die with him. Sure, we still have Peter Travers and Richard Roeper, who are both fantastic in their own right, but it was without a doubt Ebert who either inspired them or made them strive to be better, as he has me.
The world of movies and film criticism is now darker with the death of Roger Ebert, but I am hoping we can try to break through the rain cloud and discover the light that he would have wanted us to find. Ebert may be dead, but his legacy remains, and his unparalleled love for the movies will live forever. So, Roger, wherever you are, I just want to thank you for being such an inspiration to me, and countless others, and I want you to know I will dearly miss you, forever love you, and never forget you. Rest in peace.