The film world got some tragic and heartbreaking news yesterday, and it’s been difficult to conjure up the courage even to admit it happened, but here it goes. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times died yesterday after a prolonged battle with cancer that had him undergoing several surgeries and losing his ability to vocally speak.
Of course, even that didn’t keep him from making his voice heard. It wasn’t until April 3rd of this year, just a day prior to his death, that Ebert admitted his voice in writing was going to be significantly downsized. Calling it “A Leave of Presence”, his final journal entry expressed his desire to keep writing, even in a reduced capacity, the pride in his assembled team of critics for RogerEbert.com, and a final that undoubtedly brews tears for any devoted reader who reads it (see the end of this article).
It’s poignant that a man who defied his own condition up to the very end was able to have such a graceful exit from life, with even The Onion honoring Ebert fondly in their writing. It’s been gratifying to read the many eulogies propping up across the web in the past 24 hours, either from Justin Chang at Variety, Calum Marsh at Film.com, or Kris Tapley’s two lovely pieces at In Contention. We’ll have our own eulogy from one of our most impassioned Ebert followers in due time, but I invite everyone to leave their own last words to Ebert in the comments below, as well as links to other pieces not listed above.
As for my own thoughts, it says something that my immediate reaction to the news of his death was to re-watch some of his and Gene Siskel’s classic reviews on the original At the Movies. His work has become solidified on the eternal sphere of the internet, and we need only look to hear his encouraging voice carry on. He lives on in eternity as a singular inspiration for nearly every film critic working today, and he’ll no doubt join his friend Gene Siskel in offering their silent, but not absent, thoughts on the movies from now to the end of time.
“So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”– Roger Ebert