Legendary Film Critic Roger Ebert Has Sadly Passed Away at Age 70
by Ethan Anderton
April 4, 2013
Just yesterday, legendary film critic Roger Ebert announced that he was going to be taking a break from work again after a recurrence of cancer surfaced. At the time, the critic called the break a "leave of presence" to slow down his work. He explained, "It means I am not going away." But today, shocking news came from The Chicago Sun-Times, where Ebert's movie reviews and musings have had a home for decades, that the film critic had passed away at age 70. The obituary online from the newspaper begins, "Roger Ebert loved movies. Except for those he hated."In a way, that's all we really need to know, but Ebert was much more than a film critic. He was a film fan, an intensely passionate cinephile, and a man of substance. Read on.
Despite the timing of his death, Ebert didn't seem like he was ready to let go. His last update online talked about taking ownership of his site under a separate entity and the upcoming 15th anniversary of his Chicago film festival Ebertfest, which will now be a bittersweet celebration from April 17th through the 21st. Just in case you didn't know how wide Ebert's work spreads, he wrote, "Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers." Last year he wrote 306 movie reviews, not to mention keeping up on his blog and other articles.
But in addition to his writing, Ebert is responsible for the most famous form of film criticism, thanks to his longstanding work with the late Gene Siskel. The idea of giving a movie a thumbs-up was their trademark, and not even a 5-star review is was much of an honor as getting two thumbs up from a duo that was almost like a real life Statler and Waldorf from time to time. Here's one of Siskel and Ebert's reviews:
Ebert has been one of the loudest voices in film criticism, even after his fight with cancer literally took his voice, until amazing technology was able to bring it back in some form. Several of his books sit on my shelf including Life Itself: A Memoir and his collection of work Awake in the Dark, and without the legacy of Roger Ebert, the job that I have right now wouldn't be possible. The way Ebert described movies, whether he loved them or hated them, intensified my love for movies. This is how you can talk about things that entertain you? You can write about the movies you love? I was sold.
Unfortuntely, I never got a chance to share a conversation with Ebert, but we did have an encounter that I will remember forever. At a mostly empty press screening of Real Steel in Chicago, I sat in the same row where Ebert was sitting with his wife near the aisle. As I passed, I smiled and nodded, and while he wasn't able to smile back, his nod back at me was all I needed. It seems fitting that the last bit of writing Ebert posted online was so grateful to readers and those inspired by his work like me. Ebert wrote:
Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter. However you came to know me, I'm glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.
No, Mr. Ebert, thank you. My love for movies was only fueled by your passion for cinema, and no matter how many times I disagreed, sometimes vehemently with your opinions, it was always with respect. There's no doubt that myself and many of my colleagues owe you more than a debt of gratitude.
Even more appropriately, Ebert ends his last entry succinctly and sweetly with, "Thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies." The balcony is closed. Rest in peace.
Reader Feedback - 29 Comments
Not the way I wanted to start my day hearing this news. One of the few critics I truly respected (even though I may have disagreed with him sometimes) He will truly be missed.
Matt97 on Apr 4, 2013
Well said Ethan, thanks for the nice words to send him off. He'll be missed
Lars Feely on Apr 4, 2013
Definitely some sad news. It's sad to think that there will be no more films reviewed by this man. R.I.P.
Chris Groves on Apr 4, 2013
We've definitely had our disagreements in the past, but he was truly a great fan of film. Much respect to a great man. RIP
bat0u on Apr 4, 2013
I always read his reviews :/ R.I.P. Roger Ebert thank you for all your work.
Fidel Reyes on Apr 4, 2013
Tragic. There are going to be way too many legends dying in my lifetime...
OfficialJab on Apr 4, 2013
That's a hard, harsh truth. One reason why I hate getting older.
Scopedog on Apr 4, 2013
I would disagree with some of his reviews, but damnit, I truly respected him and Gene Siskel. They truly loved movies. They also were not afraid to parody themselves either--remember their appearances on SNL and on THE CRITIC? Roger Ebert will be missed. A film critic who earned the title and my respect.
Scopedog on Apr 4, 2013
or when they decided to end their arguing over a game of horse on David Letterman... classic classic stuff Mr Ebert will be missed, stand up talented man
Tester on Apr 4, 2013
One thing I remember about him was that he was a huge fan of the films of Miyazaki. He was probably the first American critic to really give those films their due, and he even met Miyazaki some years ago. I'll give it to him and Siskel--they put a human face on film critics, and probably did more for film criticism than anyone else.
Scopedog on Apr 4, 2013
He was the best 🙁 so depressed right. This guy was so influential on my reading and writing during my youth...i'll miss this guy alot. He is unequaled.
Linkfx on Apr 4, 2013
I repsected the guys opinion, honestly I barely ever agreed with his reviews, but its hard to think of hollywood without thinking Ebert....RIP
Cody W on Apr 4, 2013
You're right. It IS hard to think about hollywood without thinking him. He was the biggest and most well known critic of my generation. Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert.
si1ver on Apr 4, 2013
whether you wholeheartedly agreed or vehemently disagreed with his opinions, he fueled great discussion about cinema and Hollywood more generally with insight and understanding. a true catalyst for the industry and the medium, and an incalculable loss. RIP.
son_et_lumiere on Apr 4, 2013
Tester on Apr 4, 2013
Scopedog on Apr 4, 2013
Isildur_of_Numenor on Apr 4, 2013
RIP Mr. Ebert. I always admired his perseverance through his struggles with health problems. Thank you for bringing your love of film to so many of us.
Everman on Apr 4, 2013
Xerxexx on Apr 4, 2013
My rating; 10/10.
firstname.lastname@example.org on Apr 4, 2013
R.i.p roger E. the first and only critic the i always paid attention on wikipedia review's
Joaquin on Apr 4, 2013
This is truly sad news. I have video tapes where I had recorded episodes of "Ebert & Roeper". I always made sure to tune in whenever I can just to hear their thoughts (and conflicts) with the week's films, along with watching "Siskel & Ebert" clips on YouTube. His articles and reviews are always well written with detail and a sense of humor. It was sad to see his physical state after the show ended and then hear news of the cancer coming back. RIP, Roger Ebert, a great inspiration in the film world.
Ahmed on Apr 4, 2013
The Greatest.... I remember being a kid and watching his and Gene's reviews for E.T., Raiders and Empire Strikes Back. Awesome!
AlwaysWatching on Apr 4, 2013
To be honest I don't read film reviews very often. However only after watching a film, if I ever felt conflicted or couldn't quite make up my mind either way wether I liked or disliked a film, I would always rely and turn to Roger's reviews first and foremost. He was the one film critic I actually cared about. His reviews didn't necessarily sway me or convince me, but his opinion allowed me to see a 'point of view' that I ultimately respected. This was because 'Roger loved movies'. I have always felt the job of a film reviewer was exactly that, a job! In the practical sense reviews are nothing more than opinions, preferences or judgements. Personally I prefer to hear what my family and friends think about a film (most of them dedicated film lovers) their observations have always and will continue to help me consider a films success. And so thats what I think I will miss most - a friends opinion, from someone who truly loved the movies.
lattimore on Apr 4, 2013
He leaves a void that will never be filled. Thank you, Mr. Ebert. Say "Hello" to Gene for us...
Bl00dwerK on Apr 5, 2013
Rest in peace Mr Ebert
Bob on Apr 5, 2013
Christopher Philip Cinquegrano on Apr 5, 2013
Rest in Peace, Roger!
Davide Coppola on Apr 5, 2013
Hmmm . . . not a bad word to be found about the guy in 27 comments so far. That says something in this day and age, doesn't it? All film critics working today are aiming for the one thing that Mr. Ebert apparently had from just about everyone - respect.
racquetman on Apr 5, 2013
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