Roger Ebert died this past Friday. His loss has left a large void in my life for a very simple reason. For the past 17 years I would watch a movie and then without fail gauge my reaction based upon Ebert’s opinion. He was my guide through the film world. He probably had the greatest influence on me as a taste maker than anybody has ever had, despite the fact that we sometimes disagreed. He was, and will always be a cultural icon.
On a different level Ebert was also a literary inspiration, particulary as he adapted to writing blogs. Unlike any other creature of ‘the old media’ he adapted to the online community better than any other of his contemporaries. In an unfortunate coincidence just about the time he was devouring these new technological advances Ebert lost the ability to speak. The power of his written words became even more precious and he knew it.
My favourite piece of Ebert’s writing is not even a movie review, but rather an unflinching portrait of his own alcoholism. He also wrote about love unlike any other person I’ve ever come across.
Unfortunately in Australia we weren’t blessed to see Ebert’s version of At The Movies, but Margaret and David owe a great debt to his partnership with fellow Chicago film critic Gene Siskel, because they pioneered the 'frenemy film critic' banter that has now become a staple of film criticism on TV.
I can’t write too much more because the loss still affects me deeply more than 72 hours after I first heard it. Instead, I’ll remind you of two great things: his excellent taste in movies, and his razor sharp wit.
I will miss his writing every single day.