I found out about Roger Ebert’s death via twitter. I had, just hours earlier, read his blog post from the day before about his cancer recurrence and taking a ‘leave of presence’. So Diablo Cody’s tweet, ‘RIP Roger Ebert’ came as quite a shock. I wasn’t prepared for the news and I instantly felt the loss. The next tweet I read simply said “the balcony is closed”, and the one after that said “RIP Roger, see you at the movies”. It all made me a bit teary.
I am not normally affected so deeply by the loss of someone I’ve never met, but fresh off of reading his blog post about slowing down (which is still 99% busier than I am at my busiest) it just hit me right in the feels. In the 24 hours since then, I have read numerous posts and articles about Roger Ebert and it has become very clear that a lot of people are feeling deeply affected by his death. The topics are varied but all of them boil down to the same core themes – his strength and determination in fighting cancer, his positivity and joy at being able to do what he loved to do, and his passion for both watching movies and talking about them.
Many people have also written about his kindness, his adaptability (he transitioned seamlessly to new mediums – newspaper, tv, blogging, facebook, twitter) and his relatability. He was a champion for films he believed in and didn’t care if anybody agreed. He unabashedly liked what he liked.
What I remember about watching Siskel & Ebert is how unpretentious they were in their movie reviews. Ebert talked about movies in a way that made them accessible. He didn’t talk about movies the way that film students are trained to – by analyzing and dissecting; He talked about movies the way movie-lovers are naturally inclined to – by what they liked and didn’t like and how it made them feel, and that is what I loved about him.
After every movie we see, my sister seeks out Ebert’s review of that movie. Sometimes she forwards them to me and often she just tells me what he has to say. It never mattered if we agreed with his opinion, we still valued knowing it. I think for Stefanie, it wasn’t a complete movie-watching experience if she couldn’t top it off with reading Ebert’s review. I know she will miss that aspect of her movie-going experience.
So, Roger Ebert, you will be missed. See you at the movies, I’ll bring the popcorn.
The balcony is now closed.