At the End of the Day: Remembering Roger Edition

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Roger Ebert Reactions from around the world to the death Thursday of legendary film critic Roger Ebert:

“To me, yesterday felt like a family member died. Roger Ebert filled so many roles: a writing professor I never met, a cinematic champion whose boundless enthusiasm and warmth were nearly palpable, a paragon of how to act with dignity when facing a disease that doesn’t allow for such behavior. He is the reason why I’m writing for a living. It’s sad that he’s gone. What will never disappear is his legacy: the countless people–not just writers or movie lovers–he touched in his abbreviated life.”- Pete Croatto

“I met Ebert once, occasionally traded emails with him for several years, beginning when I was in high school, he gave me several quotes for my senior thesis in college, and I had a question published in his “Movie Answer Man” column about ten years ago. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be doing what I do today if it weren’t for Ebert’s influence. He will be greatly missed.” – Stephen Silver 

“Roger Ebert, who died yesterday at 70, happened to the movies and, by extension, he happened to us. For a quarter of a century, he sat across from Gene Siskel and changed the act of moviegoing and popularized the art of movie criticism. He and Siskel started talking on television in 1975, the same year Jaws changed the art of popular moviemaking. How’s that for parallelism? Siskel and Ebert: both the great white shark and the Steven Spielberg of tastemaking.” – Film critic Wesley Morris 

“For a generation of Americans — and especially Chicagoans — Roger was the movies. When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive — capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical. Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient — continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won’t be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family.” – President Barack Obama 

“Roger loved movies. They were his life. His reviews went far deeper than simply thumbs up or thumbs down. He wrote with passion through a real knowledge of film and film history, and in doing so, helped many movies find their audiences. Along with Gene Shalit, Joel Siegel, and of course Gene Siskel, Roger put television criticism on the map” – Director Steven Spielberg 

“Roger understood how much movies matter, how a good one can burrow into our souls, and he never let anyone forget it. It’s hard to imagine him no longer out there watching, thinking, and writing about movies. But it’s comforting to know that he changed the way we watch, think, and write about movies forever—and for the better.” – Keith Phipps, Slate

“No one was better at describing the emotional experience of watching a film than Roger Ebert. Few were better at describing the emotional experience of life.  Roger knew the two experiences were one and the same. That was his genius.”- Critic Matt Zoller Seitz

“It’s hard to overstate the role Roger Ebert played in my life and career. I don’t think I would have become a film critic or gotten a film degree if I hadn’t grown up watching Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel talk about movies on television in a way that made being a film critic seem like the best job in the world,” – Critic Nathan Rabin 

“Whether he was lavishing praise on a film or elegantly destroying it, on TV or in print, Ebert was so good at what he did that he inspired me to wonder if perhaps I could do that. And though I ultimately chose to cover a medium other than Ebert’s favorite, I almost always had his voice in my head as I wrote: Are you making the best, plainest form of the argument? Are you judging this work by what it’s trying to be, and not what you want it to be?,” – TV critic Alan Sepinwall 

“While his commentary on directors and the moviemaking nuts-and-bolts were always astute and thought-provoking, he is one of the few critics who really understands acting, and gives it its due… I’m an acting-nerd. I was interested in movies because of actors, that was my “way in”. And to read someone’s elegant and passionate and knowledgeable analysis of the mysterious art of acting was a huge turn-on.” – Critic Sheila O’Malley 

“The death of Roger Ebert is an incalculable loss for movie culture and for film criticism. And it’s a loss for me personally. Roger was always supportive, he was always right there for me when I needed it most, when it really counted – at the very beginning, when every word of encouragement was precious; and then again, when I was at the lowest ebb of my career, there he was, just as encouraging, just as warmly supportive.” – Director Martin Scorsese 

“What I liked best about our conversations is that he judged movies, not people, which made him unique among the critics of my acquaintance. And he respected the arguments of those who didn’t share his opinions, which was refreshing in our opinionated profession.” – Critic Carrie Rickey 

“How would Roger Ebert like to be remembered? A Pulitzer Prize winning writer? The man who, along with co-host Gene Siskel, invented TV film criticism as we now know it? The first major journalist to embrace the Internet and all it entailed? A die-hard liberal whose support for Presidents Clinton and Obama was unflinching? The most influential reviewer of his generation, perhaps of all-time? All these things are true, but they are not what Ebert would most want people to recollect when thinking of him. Instead, he would like it said, simply and succinctly, that he was a man who loved movies and had been blessed with an opportunity to write and talk about them for nearly five decades. He lived his dream, and how many of us can say as much?” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews 

“A profound loss for anyone who has ever loved going to the movies. My heart goes out to Chaz and the city of Chicago. Just heartbroken.”- Director Jason Reitman

“Roger Ebert. Clear-eyed dreamer, king of the written word… – Director Cameron Crowe

“I owe you everything, from my desire to write to my choice of college and profession to my work ethic to my favorite quote of yours of all time: “The muse visits during the act of creation, not before.” The man was all about work, and getting better, and trying to figure it all out. He was my professional hero” – Will Leitch 

“Roger Ebert hails human existence as a triumph” – The Onion 


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