Legendary and beloved film critic Roger Ebert passed away due to complications from thyroid cancer this past week. Ebert was best known for his wickedly witty film reviews that were written with the upmost taste and impeccable style. The prolific writer published his reviews in the “Chicago Sun-Times” as well as on his online blog that thousands of readers viewed daily.
Ebert was gifted with a sharp tongue, which resulted in scathing reviews for movies he disliked, but he always employed great humor. His ability to praise films was just as keen, as many films relied on his positive review to reach success in a larger market that they might not have otherwise.
The Illinois native never aspired to be a film critic but rather accidentally fell upon the profession after graduating from the University of Illinois. He found success as a writer, which eventually led to his prosperous career as a film critic that spanned over 40 years.
Soon after this, his fame grew exponentially, which landed him a television show with Gene Siskel, another film critic. The two sparred with each other about films and provided excellent banter about everything cinema. The pair left their legacy on film trailers everywhere when they coined the phrase “two thumbs up.” Ebert continued his television success after Siskel’s death with other shows as well.
Ebert was a pioneer in the field of film criticism. Because of his trailblazing, film reviewing became a pillar of journalism and culture. He was awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honor never given to a film critic. More importantly, however, he became the first film critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize, which is by far the highest honor a writer can receive.
Although Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, he tirelessly and courageously fought against his cancer, and of course, wrote reviews. A few years later, his condition worsened and he had to undergo more harrowing surgeries that resulted in the loss of his voice, but not his spirit. An emaciated Ebert was no longer able to speak or eat regularly, as much of his jaw was removed. For many this would have been a career-ending trauma, but for the brave writer, it was simply a new obstacle he had to overcome.
Ebert continued in his trade and regularly reviewed films with the help of fellow critics and writers alike. He was straightforward and honest in his reviewing and wrote with such splendor that made reading his work amusing and timeless. His novels and journals will forever be read and analyzed based on their merit alone, and the impression he left on the world of cinema will forever be felt. It is with a heavy heart that the world mourns the loss of a great man and an even greater critic.