Legendary Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at 70

Brittany Gervais ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Photo via www.usmagazine.com.
Photo via www.usmagazine.com.

On the day before he died, long time film critic Roger Ebert announced he was taking a “leave of presence” from the Chicago Sun-Times. Through a written blogpost, Ebert tried explaining to his readers his battle with cancer was wearing him down. He needed time to recover, and regain his strength.

So instead of writing his usual 200 articles a year, he was going to throw himself into the production of his new website, Rogerebert.com, while still writing a few selected reviews. He thanked his readers for going on this journey with him and finished the post with, “On this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.” These were the last words Ebert ever wrote.

By mid-afternoon the next day, every movie blogger, entertainment junkie, and film addict mourned the loss of Roger Ebert, who lost his battle with cancer at age 70. He was a journalist for nearly half a century, a television star for three decades and an avid blogger.  His byline was a familiar name on the Chicago Sun-Times; he was the inventor of the  “thumbs up thumbs down” movie rating system and was the first person to win a Pulitzer prize for movie reviews. Ebert knew what he liked – and certainly what he didn’t. In his critique of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009, Ebert only had one thing to say about the movie. “If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

But what he loved to do was write about movies, and he did so up until his very last day. The Pulitzer prize winner could have easily announced his retirement back in 2002 when he was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and no one would have blamed him. Unable to speak, among other cancer-related injuries, he never let the illness keep him from doing what he did best. So he kept his computer on and the reviews coming. Just last year, Ebert wrote 306 reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Filling Ebert’s seat in the theater will be a near impossible thing to do. The man knew what made a good film and he kept the movie industry honest. He spent his entire life doing what he loved. An outspoken advocate for black and white film, Ebert inspired movie lovers around the world to think critically about what they were watching. No film critic will ever have as much power and influence as Ebert did in one thumb.

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