I was sad, if not entirely surprised, to hear that Roger Ebert had died.
I don’t have—and I don’t think I will ever have—the relationship with movies that he had; while I find movies entertaining, I also own a T-shirt that sums up my feelings startlingly well: “The book was better.”
Roger Ebert bridged the gap for me. I enjoyed reading his reviews and essays enourmously. He made me want to be a better, more informed, member of the audience.
I have seen only a few of the movies discussed in his last Great Movies book, but enjoyed reading about such exotica as El Topo or Winter Light; movies that I will probably never see—frankly, have no intention of seeing—and yet were painted for me in a beautiful form that I could find appreciation for.
Seeing something through the eyes of someone so steeped in something, so passionate about its meaning and devoted to the expressive possibilities, is a powerful thing. To lose someone with that capacity to lay bare the depth and breadth of a subject, while still loving the magic and beauty of it,leaves us diminished.
If you haven’t read his memoir, Life Itself, you should.I just watched Seeking a Friend for the End of the World last night, and I looked up his review of the movie. The last paragraph seems painfully apt:
The best parts of this sweet film involve the middle stretches, when time, however limited, reaches ahead, and the characters do what they can to prevail in the face of calamity. How can I complain that they don’t entirely succeed? Isn’t the dilemma of the plot the essential dilemma of life?