Written by Paul Stathakis | April 5, 2013

The critic we loved

In remembrance of the great Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away on April 4, 2013 at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer, we begin with a few of his most memorable quotes:

“If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen.”

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.”

“When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.”

“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds — not simply by identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it — but by seeing the world as another person sees it…. Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.”

Roger Ebert will forever be remembered as one of the great voices in American history. His writings led him to win the coveted Pulitzer prize for film criticism in 1975 and in an impressive 46-year career with the Chicago Sun-Times, he reviewed more than 10,000 films.  His reviews were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers nationally.

Ebert also served as co-host of the television program “Siskel & Ebert and the Movies” for 13 years (from 1986 to 1999) with the late Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel. They were the best of friends and that was evident because of their wonderful chemistry. Their passionate criticism was what made them stand out. Known for being brutally honest, their opinions could persuade moviegoers to see or skip a movie. Their signature “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” was powerful enough determine a film’s success at the box office. At one time, they were two of the most feared men in America. At least, in Hollywood. Following Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert continued to appear on television with other critics in rotation. In 2000, critic Richard Roeper became his permanent co-host until 2008 when the show came to an end.

On April 3, 2013, a day before his passing, Ebert wrote an article entitled “A leave of presence” in which he offered these final words: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.” For a man who loved movies dearly, enough to cover them for us with such enthusiasm for many years, the word “movies” is a truly perfect last written word. Movies meant everything to Roger and going to them without him will never be the same again.

Thank you for years of insightful and passionate criticism. Thank you for changing the way we watch movies. And most of all, thank you for inspiring us to write about them.

We’ll always only have Thumbs Up for you, Roger.


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