The end of an era, Roger Ebert 1942-2013

The first exposure I had to thinking about movies as more than just pure spectacle was watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert flay each other over who liked what movie and why on their weekly television show, Siskel & Ebert. The cultural impact of Siskel & Ebert is enormous–just think of how saturated “two thumbs up” is in our pop-culture lexicon–but Roger Ebert had a more personal resonance to me as a film writer working on his turf in Chicago.

The first time I saw him in a screening I was more starstruck than any other time in my life. The first time he spoke to me, with his electrical voice, I couldn’t muster an intelligible reply–nothing, NOTHING, could dampen the wit and experience and intelligence of his voice. That he kept communicating with me meant more than almost anything. No one has done more to foster a love of movies, writing, and discourse in young writers and critics than Roger Ebert. He took a personal interest in everything around him and it impacted us all, from those who read or watched his reviews to those who were lucky enough to know him.

There’s a big gaping hole in film criticism now, a silence where there should be a voice, a blank page where there should be words. And for some of us, there’s an empty seat in a theater where a friend, mentor and teacher once sat.

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6 thoughts on “The end of an era, Roger Ebert 1942-2013

  1. marie

    lucky you indeed Sarah..i was exposed to his works only recently but have since then looked forward to reading his reviews and have tried to track his previous writings..it’s a great loss really..rip Mr. Ebert

  2. Sunny

    Whenever I wanted a reliable barometer for why I liked (or hated) a movie, I’d read Ebert. He elucidated things I may have felt but never could put into words. I’d regularly agree with him and so appreciated his unique and precise observations, the spark that never went out and, above all, his love of and respect for film. What a loss to our culture. I will deeply miss his insight not only into movies but into what movies say about us.

    1. I did the same for as long as I can remember. He was always such a good jumping off point.

      I greatly admired his personal blog as well.

      You’re lucky to have known him. 🙂

  3. Nikki

    Sarah,

    What a lovely reflection on a great man. As a young girl, I watched Siskel and Ebert religiously. It was always so interesting to me to see people think about movies, talk about movies, argue about movies. Like yourself, it was my first experience of movies as beyond mere entertainment. I learned their was a whole other aspect to film going that I was missing.

    In many ways, I owe my love of film to him. He was a great man who will be missed.

  4. Monika

    There are so many tributes today for Roger Ebert but yours brought me to tears, reminding me once again of Roger’s “infectious” love of movies. Thank you.

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