118. ROGER EBERT: On kindness
Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was the world’s most respected and celebrated film critic. I can’t possibly do justice to his legendary career in the movies. For that, I recommend this beautiful obituary from The Chicago Sun-Times, the newspaper Ebert worked for since 1967.
To be honest, up until about four years ago I only knew Ebert from seeing his name on movie posters with the famous “Two thumbs up” tagline. His television shows and film reviews never appeared in Australia (that I know of), so he was always just the ‘movie review guy’ to me.
That was until I found his blog. After Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 he underwent several surgeries which left him without a lower jaw or the ability to speak. He found solace on the internet, where he applied his Pulitzer-prize writing skills to the world of blogging. His blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal, took the place of the voice that he had tragically lost and will go down as one of the best-written blogs the internet has ever seen. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but it quickly became one of my favourites. Some of his best articles include his takedown of the pro-creationist film Expelled, where Ebert beautifully argues the case for evolution, his infamous post on why video games can never be art (I strongly disagree with him on that topic) and his past battles with alcoholism (there are literally hundreds of more fantastic posts you can read in the archives). In 2010, Ebert won the Webby award for person of the year “for his contributions to the craft of online writing and journalism” and making the internet “a more thoughtful, engaging and self-aware environment.”
This quote was taken from Ebert’s autobiography Life Itself, which is being turned into a documentary produced by Martin Scorsese.
Profits from the sale of this print will be donated to the Sundance Film Festival’s Roger Ebert Scholarship For Film Criticism.
– Beyond The Valley of the Dolls was a 1970 sexploitation/cult film written by Ebert.
– A fantastic Esquire article from 2010 profiling Ebert’s cancer battle and online work.
– Ebert’s 2011 TED talk on how he lost the ability to speak and his attempt at finding the perfect computer voice (you’ll need tissues for this, I might have shed a few tears while watching).
– One of Ebert’s dreams was to win the New Yorker cartoon caption contest. After entering the contest for years, he finally won with this entry.
– Thanks to everyone who submitted this quote.