Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

I know [my death] is coming, and I do not fear it,
Because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.
I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path.
I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.
What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter.
You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip.

I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”
–Roger Ebert, 2010

Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago at the age of 70.

On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.” “We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”

Ebert had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland. He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times. He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.” But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.

Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, Life Itself. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

Read more about the life of Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: Roger Ebert’s Influence and Legacy

When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, came together to tell his remarkable story.

Roger Ebert: Remaking My Voice

Please Share This:

Share

New York’s Blizzard of 2010

New York’s Blizzard of 2010

Here’s the moody, brilliantly-shot meditation on a buried city that’s being called Oscar-worthy by Roger Ebert.  The video was shot by filmmaker Jamie Stuart in Queens, New York, during the snowstorm on the night of the 26th.  Like the video itself, the title, Idiot with a Tripod, is an homage to the 1929 silent film Man With a Movie Camera.

New York’s Blizzard of 2010

Please Share This:

Share

Grave of the Fireflies: A Japanese Anime Masterpiece

Grave of the Fireflies: A Japanese Anime Masterpiece

Grave of the Fireflies is a Japanese anime masterpiece, an animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata, with animation production work provided by Studio Ghibli.  Grave of the Fireflies tells the story of two children from Japan’s port city of Kobe, who have been made homeless by the WWII American firebombing of the city.  The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Nosaka Akiyuki, who was a boy at the time of the firebombs, whose sister did die of hunger and whose life has been shadowed by guilt.

Roger Ebert considers Grave of the Fireflies to be one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made and has described the film as “an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation….Grave of the Fireflies” is a powerful dramatic film that happens to be animated, and I know what the critic Ernest Rister means when he compares it to “Schindler’s List” and says, “It is the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.”

The film tells a simple story of survival. The boy and his sister must find a place to stay and food to eat.  But in wartime their relatives are neither kind nor generous, and and the boy soon is left to fend for both himself and his young sister.  He has some money and can buy food, but soon there is no food to buy.  His sister grows weaker and weaker.  Their story is told not as melodrama, but rather in the simple and  direct manner of the neo-realist tradition.  And there is time for silence in it.  One of the film’s greatest gifts is its patience; shots are held so that we can think about them; characters are glimpsed in their private moments; atmosphere and nature are given time to establish themselves.

Grave of the Fireflies: A Japanese Anime Masterpiece

Roger Ebert on Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Please Share This:

Share

%d bloggers like this: