Film critic Roger Ebert passed away on April 4 2013 after a heroic 11 year battle with cancer.
Mr Ebert was more than just a critic; he was a pioneer, an inspirational human being and the reason many a young person discovered countless great films. He had a grace that seems rare these days; and a humbleness which was second to none.
I have never meet Mr Ebert, nor have I received any direct communication from him; but he spoke to me through our shared love of film. I often disagreed with him, and he constantly challenged me to reassess my beliefs and opinions. To be challenged by someone with the intelligence and wit of Mr Ebert is a fine thing indeed.
I “met” Mr Ebert quite by chance at age 12 while waiting for my parents to pick me up from the public library after I had just been at the movies. The film I had just seen was Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, and I had loved it. Our public library had papers from around the world in a reading area on the ground floor, and it was here a came across Mr Ebert’s review of the very film I had just seen. He had problems with the film and I remember feeling annoyed that “this man” would say such things. I also remember having the sneaking suspicion that he might be right, and that my love of the Orca whale was blinding my judgement.
From then on I often made an effort to read his reviews when visiting the library. Later in life I worked through his years of reviews online, read his books and watched his TV shows. A lifetime of work which will influence, inspire and infuriate for years to come.
He had a profound impact on how I think about film and film criticism – and for that I will forever be grateful.
Farewell Mr Ebert.
By Sam McCosh