Sunday, April 7, 2013

Two Thumbs Up for Mr. Ebert


I've known many people who think film criticism is a silly profession. And most of the time, I can understand where the kind of thinking is generated from. Many film critics for major newspapers and magazines can come off very stand-offish, pompous and ignorant to the fact that what they write is based of their opinion...not fact.

There were some critics who bring out the very best of what film criticism can offer, that represent why it is important and relevant. One of these rare individuals led film criticism, and there are many people who will agree with that sentiment, his name was Roger Ebert, and he was best of film critic to ever write in the medium.

He made a name for himself alongside late critic Gene Siskel. During this time, Ebert wrote for Chicago Sun-Times and Siskel wrote for the Chicago Tribune. Together, they made a show called "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies" and the show began legendary for the two critics, with their "thumbs up, thumbs down" inspired reviews which became a popular catch from the show. Sadly Siskel died in 1998, and I had not watched the show enough nor was I familiar enough with Siskel to feel his death. But I understood then and now what an impact he made on the show. Ebert would lead the show himself for roughly a year until Siskel's permanent replacement, Richard Roeper, came to the show. The show highlighted every movie you could possibly want to watch, and to hear two critics argue for a half hour was entertaining.

It also happens to be the first movie-related show I committed myself to.

Roger Ebert taught me how to read film criticism. He opened my eyes to the world of film and just how big it is. I discovered films through his writing in which I would have never stumbled upon on my own. That is part of the reason why I make year-end lists for movies each year, because if I can open an experience up to a family-member or friend which they probably wouldn't have had, its very fulfilling to me. I feel very fulfilled by reading Ebert and following him as long as I did.

I would have never taken film criticism seriously at all if it weren't for Roger Ebert. I would have never loved all things film if it weren't for Roger Ebert. His existence was one of the major linchpins for one of my life's biggest hobbies.

Usually, celebrity deaths never sucker punch me, I have never met anybody famous before, I have never been close to someone in the limelight. However, I watched Siskel and Ebert at the movies at age 5 and watched it growing up, I youtubed all the 80s episodes that I missed. I own several of Ebert's books which I have read more  than once, in college I wrote a speech about him for my Public Speaking class that I took my freshman year. Ebert shaped me into the movie lover I am today. So it is both shocking and sad that he passed away today. So this particular death has indeed sucker punched me.

Like Michael Jordan is the best to ever play basketball, Roger Ebert is the best to ever sit down and write critically about movies, and the world is a much more sad place with his passing. But the ray of light after this storm is that Ebert left a legacy that will endure in the history of film forever.

I know I said this already, but I would ask everybody to watch their favorite movie or movies this weekend, honor a man that always wanted to keep the world informed about something he was passionate about. He certainly spurred passion in me, and no doubt millions of other movie lovers across the globe. Roger Ebert you will be missed.

 

1 comment:

  1. Shawn, it's wonderful that you pay such tribute to Mr. Ebert and that he was such inspiration to you. Looking forward to reading your critique of film. Great blog!

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