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Roger Ebert: 10 Little-Known Facts About the Great Movie Critic
Posted By Patrick Kiger On April 4, 2013 @ 7:39 pm In Legacy | No Comments
It’s no exaggeration to say that Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert, who died on April 4 at age 70, was perhaps the most influential movie reviewer of all time.
Ebert achieved his initial fame in the late 1970s as the shorter, chubbier, bespectacled half of Siskel and Ebert, the opinionated TV reviewing duo he formed with Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel, whose thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down verdicts could help turn a movie into a hit or relegate it to box-office ignominy. (After Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert teamed up with Richard Roeper until 2006.)
Though he may have looked like a milquetoast out of central casting, his blunt, often shockingly caustic critiques of subpar films – he famously titled a 2007 collection of his essays Your Movie Sucks – not only earned him credibility with viewers but made him a feared figure in Hollywood. But when it came to films he admired, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Raging Bull or Aguirre, Wrath of God, he wrote lyrical homages. From a 2012 essay on his favorite films, here’s what he had to say about Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita:
‘La Dolce Vita’ has become a touchstone in my life: A film about a kind of life I dreamed of living, then a film about the life I was living, then about my escape from that life. Now, half a century after its release, it is about the arc of my life, and its closing scene is an eerie reflection of my wordlessness and difficulty in communicating. I still yearn and dream, but it is so hard for me to communicate that – not literally, but figuratively.”
Besides helping to elevate the movie tastes of millions, Ebert lifted us up in another way: by showing us an example of how to soldier on bravely against adversity. After undergoing cancer surgery in 2006 and suffering severe disfigurement that left him unable to speak or eat, nobody would have faulted him for retreating into seclusion. Instead, Ebert not only continued to write movie reviews, but embarked on a second career as a blogger and Twitter superstar, whose prolific tweets earned him nearly 850,000 followers. Moreover, he appeared on a 2010 Esquire magazine cover, boldly challenging the world to look at his misshapen face – a gesture that must have cheered countless others who’ve similarly struggled against cancer’s cruel ravages.
From his acclaimed 2011 memoir, Life Itself, here are 10 intriguing facts about Ebert:
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