Farewell Roger Ebert (1942 -2013)

World-renowned film critic, Roger Ebert, passed away yesterday.  Today, across print and electronic media, there are many short biographies and re-printings of his old reviews. For a history on the man, I suggest you seek elsewhere.

Instead, what I plan on doing with this short tribute is explain how Mr. Ebert influenced me and, by extension, this blog.

It was clear from his written reviews as well as his appearances on his show "At the Movies," that Roger Ebert loved film. He LOVED the medium. It was his lifelong passion and it showed in all of his work. Yes, when he hated a film, he wrote entertaining and sometimes downright hilarious pieces on why the movie failed. But he didn't want films to fail. He loved the movies and it just seemed that he was extremely frustrated when they just didn't work.

I didn't always agree with Ebert. Sometimes, frankly, I would be shocked that he didn't love a movie that I treasured. However, when I read his criticisms, he would never try to convince he was right, but he pointed out what he thought was flawed and I came to appreciate his negative reviews, even of the films I loved. Of course, when I did agree with a review, I felt vindicated... specifically in those under-appreciated films like Dark City or Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Of course, he wrote classic pieces on films like Citizen Kane as well.

Ebert's writings and reviews will forever inform how I write my reviews. Many years ago, when his partner Gene Siskel was still alive, I saw a piece by the two critics on how to approach the art (and it is an art) of film criticism. They said not to approach it with an academic voice, but instead to write the film from your own point of view. Your own voice. That's what I strive to do here with my blog. I try to celebrate the films that are important to me and explain why they are not only important to the history of film but why they had such an effect on me.

Roger Ebert was a great writer. A great critic. However, more than that, he was a movie lover. And if you are reading this blog, or read and appreciated his reviews, you are too.

Goodbye, Mr. Ebert. The Essential Films gives you two thumbs up.