Roger Ebert: An Appreciation

I’ve spent my entire life reading and watching Roger Ebert.

My love of movies and particularly writing about films is due in no small measure to Roger Ebert.

The reason this blog exists has to a lot to do with Roger Ebert.

Over the next few days, a lot of appreciations will be written for Roger Ebert. They will talk about his importance in the movie world, which is hard to describe for just how significant it’s been.

I still wonder from time to time just why I became so interested in movies and writing about them. When I’m asked this question, two faces immediately come to mind: Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

I grew up watching their show. And taping their show. And re-watching their show.

I grew up buying Roger Ebert’s annual book that would be updated each year to include the new reviews. I would read it from cover to cover. And re-read it from cover to cover.

Until today, I would go to Roger’s website every Thursday to read his thoughts on the weekend’s new releases. We didn’t always agree (far from it), but I always wanted to know what Roger thought.

Roger Ebert was a brilliant writer. He’s the first movie critic to earn a Pulitzer Prize. Most importantly, he loved movies. Oh, he didn’t love every movie (far from it). But when Roger loved a movie, he championed it. He wanted others to experience the joy he experienced when he watched it.

I’ve seen many movies because of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. That’s what movie writers are supposed to do: expand a reader’s palate of movies they watch. Expose them to films they may not normally see.

And Roger Ebert had the kind of exposure to recommend great pictures to millions of readers and millions of viewers of his show.

The next days will bring about well-written pieces discussing the importance of Siskel&Ebert. They will discuss Roger’s brave final decade and his unimaginable health issues. And they will rightly discuss his place in film history which simply cannot be understated. He’s the most well-known and famous movie critic. Ever.

This evening, I just wanted to share my personal history regarding Roger Ebert. I know that I wouldn’t have the passion I do about movies if Roger Ebert had never existed. I’m sure glad he did. I’ve spent countless hours reading the words of Ebert. I’m sure glad they still exist on this Earth for me to re-read.

Every week on their program, Siskel and Ebert would end with the words “The balcony is closed.”

Today, an era in film history closed.

RIP Roger Ebert. And thanks.

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