Monday, April 29, 2013

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

In my blog postings about films and literature, I have always had Roger Ebert in mind. Although I didn't always agree with him, his passion for films, especially good ones, was always evident in his commentaries. He was a deeply empathetic critic.  He liked or found something positive to say about a surprising number of films, even ones that from my point of view were pallid. He was willing to give a weak film consideration if he found in it something reasonably ambitious, something human and genuine.  As a writer, he managed something most serious critics cannot achievehe expressed intelligent and sophisticated ideas in a clear, engaging style. He was usually interesting, and usually worth reading.  He wrote with integrity and intelligence. His opinions, about film and about life in general, were unpredictable and often surprising. He seemed an authentic human being. You can't say that about most public critics. Late in his life, besieged with illness, deprived of his voice, speaking only through the written word, he became something of a heroic figure.  Publishing and blogging on a wide variety of topics, he emerged as a popular intellectual.  I used his film commentaries to measure my own thoughts. I admired his public struggle with illnessthough to call it a struggle is perhaps wrong.  He lived with and adjusted to his illness and rarely seemed daunted by it.  His proclamation that he wasn't afraid of death impressed me. Few can make that claim.  He made a real impact on readers and film lovers of his time.

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