Friday, April 5, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Ebert

It seems to me Roger Ebert was always there reviewing films, giving them thumbs up or thumbs down.  I remember when he was paired with Gene Siskel, a movie critic from a rival Chicago newspaper.  Their show was on PBS originally and they were not friends in the beginning.  They grew on each other and worked well together.  I used to watch to see if I agreed with them or not.  Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't.

Ebert always struck me as a lover of movies, just like I am.  His taste was eclectic.  In fact, the one time I saw him in person was at a Dallas Film Festival.  They had invited several nationally known critics or filmmakers to bring films to the festival.  Roger Ebert came with George Romero where Romero's film "Dawn of the Dead" was shown, one of the grandparents to today's zombie genre.

The audience was filled with society folk, university students, and lovers of art films.  As you may imagine, Ebert's choice was not well received by some of the audience.  He answered questions and parried snide comments from the audience with grace and skill.

Personally I thought "Dawn of the Dead" to be one of the best of that genre.  I remember when the zombies gravitated to the local mall and walked the halls like it was a normal day of shopping.  Well, the shoppers were shedding and walking funny, but the canned mall music still played.

Roger Ebert did not apologize for his choice of picture even when derided from some of the audience members.  He liked it and said it represented the best of the current films of that type.  He said movies were about entertainment, no matter the style or genre. Some of us cheered.

Way to go, Roger.

In later years, he became the only movie critic to win the coveted Pulitzer Prize and a national treasure of the movie world.

A man who loved food, cancer robbed him of his ability to taste first and then to eat altogether.  Still he continued reviewing his beloved movies.  When he lost his jaw to the dread disease he used a software program for a voice.  But always he continued writing his film reviews.

In the last couple of years he wrote a blog that had many followers for his film reviews.  His last post was written just a day or so before he passed away.

Roger Ebert taught us it was okay to love movies, but more importantly he taught us what true bravery is.  This man continued doing what he loved even when he suffered through a catastrophic illness that robbed him of so much.  Many people would crumble in that situation, but he adapted and continued.

He lived his life with love and humor, frequently spellbound in the darkness as he watched a movie.

Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for sharing with all of us.  You will be sorely missed.

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