roger ebert at the movies

Roger Ebert—Pulitzer Prize-winning influential film critic, journalist, and screenwriter—died on Thursday, April 4th, as announced today in a piece by the Chicago Sun-Times, for whom Ebert reviewed films for 46 years.  He was 70 years old.

The newspaper notes that Ebert’s health had deteriorated over the past decade—something the critic himself often noted on his various social media accounts—as he had suffered from both cancer of the thyroid gland and salivary gland, and lost his lower jaw in 2006.

Ebert began reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, and came to even further prominence by hosting various movie review TV programs with Gene Siskel for 23 years.  Following Siskel’s passing in 1999 due to complications from brain cancer surgery, Ebert teamed with critic Richard Roeper for Ebert & Roeper & The Movies.

Ebert recently noted online that was taking a “leave of presence” due to his health issues:

 ”At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you…It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”

Ebert was known—and occasionally criticized—for his contextual, anecdotal, and fairly populist take of film criticism, once famously noting:

“When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you’re not asking if it’s any good compared to Mystic River, you’re asking if it’s any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two. In the same way, if American Beauty gets four stars, then The United States of Leland clocks in at about two.”

Regardless of one’s opinion on Ebert’s take of films and film criticism, he was inarguably the person who brought the greatest attention of film criticism, and was the profession’s most prominent face and well-known name to the average movie-going public.  Moreover, one could argue that he brought cinephilia into the mainstream, passionately delivering weekly broadcasts and reviews to an ever-broadening audience of film-lovers.

What was your favorite Ebert review?

Source:  Chicago Sun-Times