(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
On April 4, 2013, the world lost one of the all-time great film critics.
Roger Ebert was best known as a critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and for his long-running TV show At The Movies, which he hosted first with Gene Siskel and later with Richard Roeper. His reviews were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers around the world. He also published dozens of books on cinema. He was a staple at the Toronto International Film Festival and a fixture in the industry. And Ebert became a celebrity in his own right — he was even the first critic to have his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he received in 2005.
In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. He underwent treatment and the cancer was removed. In 2006, the cancer returned, and he had surgury to remove a cancerous tissue in his right jaw. The treatment left him unable to speak, and for the rest of his life he communicated only in writing and through a computerized voice system. He died a year ago today. He was 70-years-old.
Ebert will be remembered for many things. There's his trademark "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" assessment and his wit. As a critic, though, he's mostly remembered for his complete and uninhibited love of movies. Consider, for example, this quote from an article on film criticism he published in The Atlantic in 1980:
"You slide down in your seat and make yourself comfortable. On the screen in front of you, the movie image appears—enormous and overwhelming. If the movie is a good one, you allow yourself to be absorbed in its fantasy, and its dreams become part of your memories"
To get a better sense of Ebert's reviewing style and his appreciation for film, take a look at this roundup of his best reviews from The Daily Beast. There are some excellent quotes in there, too.
And on the anniversary of his death, it's worth revisiting what people had to say at the time of his passing. Kenneth Turan's in the Los Angeles Times is particularly poignant. So is Neil Steinberg's in the Chicago Sun-Times — the paper Ebert was a part of for 46 years. Dana Stevens's piece in Slate is also excellent, with one cinephile remembering another.
We also recommend revisiting Chris Jones's profile of Roger Ebert, "Roger Ebert: The Essential Man," which was published in Esquire in 2010. It's an incredible portrait of the man behind the movie reviews, just three years before the end.
Also, check out this video of Ebert's 2011 TED Talk called "Remaking My Voice," all about living with cancer and speaking with a computer:
And here's Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, remembering Ebert on an episode of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.