Friday, 5 April 2013
Roger Ebert Has Died
Roger Ebert became a film critic at the Sun-Times in 1967. He was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for his reviews, in 1975, and that same year he began hosting the TV review program Sneak Previews with Siskel. At the time, a weekly show that just focused on movie reviews was a pretty novel concept, but they were clearly onto something. The pair would continue to host the show in various permutations until Siskel's death in 1999, though Ebert would remain on the air with Richard Roeper as his co-host until 2008.
Even as Ebert's health issues seemed to chip away at him physically -- in time he would lose his jaw and his ability to speak -- he never stopped talking.
He became a huge presence on Twitter and he continued to write a voluminous amount of reviews. (Last year he penned the most of his career -- 306.) Certainly Ebert's success as a critic came not just from his knowledge of movies or his love for them -- both of which he certainly had -- but also because of his down-to-earth approach to his writing and TV reviews. Serious film criticism can often come across as haughty or too academic, but Ebert's work never did, despite how smart his reviews could be. They were also frequently funny, as was his contentious relationship with Siskel that clearly was more than just an on-camera put-on (though the friendship that developed between the two would also become clear over time).
For those of us who grew up on Ebert and Siskel (a.k.a. "Siskel & Ebert") -- myself and many of my colleagues included -- the pair's musings on film were some of the first indications that this was something that you could do. Studying cinema, discussing it, dissecting it -- Ebert and Siskel were doing the same thing my friends and I did every week, only they were on TV. Their love of the movies was infectious, and I'm convinced that an untold number of film writers and bloggers out there today are doing what they're doing because of the two. I know I am.