First things first - we lost a great critic and a great human being yesterday, and not to put such a dramatic spin on the whole thing, but the world is a lesser place without him in it. Now, on with what I thought/think of this great man. I consider Roger Ebert to be one of the best, and one of my favourite film critics of all-time. When I used to watch Siskel & Ebert back in my younger days, I usually agreed with Gene more often, but almost no one could match Roger for his romantic poeticism toward cinema (possibly only Pauline Kael and Manny Farber). His reviews, both on the show and in the Chicago Sun-Times, led me to many wonderful films I may never have known about back in those pre-internet days, and his highly influential criticism and style of writing, helped to make this youthful cinephile and once-budding film critic, fall even more in love with the movies than I already had been.
I never met Roger in person, but we had conversed on several occasions through social media, and his wonderful spirit, his unbridled enthusiasm and his endless passion for film and media and culture, and his general optimistic outlook toward life - even while battling cancer - were, and are, a great boon to anyone who came across him, and he will be sorely missed. Before sitting down to write this brief look at one of my critical writing idols, I rewatched some of the shows Roger and Gene did back in the day, mostly from the early days of the show in the late 1970's through the mid 1980's (At the Movies first aired in 1986, but Gene and Roger had already made a buzz on PBS's Sneak Previews, beginning in 1975), and it brought back veritable floods of nostalgic feelings. Like I was living my youth all over again. Yes, Roger will be missed, and missed by many people, but luckily, we have a lifetime's worth of critical writing, all filled with a genuine love of the cinema, to keep our hearts and minds warm at night. Goodbye Roger, you will be missed.
I would like to close with a cartoon that was published in Roger's so-called rival newspaper, The Chicago Tribune yesterday. Not to go all cliché on you, and talk about how a picture is worth a thousand words and all, but it does kind of say it all - and much more eloquently than I ever could. Again, goodbye Roger.