R. I. P. Roger Ebert (1942 - 2013)

Posted by Grey Thursday, April 4, 2013

One of the most influential and passionate film critics of all time,  Roger Ebert, has passed away on Thursday, April 4, 2013, at the age of 70. The Daily Zombies mourns one of the greatest film critics ever who defined artistic expression for the cinema and transformed the industry we dearly loved. 

"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."

With that, Roger Ebert, quite possibly the most popular and influential film critics of all time, closes his final article entitled "A Leave of Presence," a blog entry posted on April 2 that was meant to explain his latest temporal departure from his popular blog to receive radiation treatment for a past hip fracture that was recently revealed to be a cancer. So what exactly is a "leave of presence?"

In the words of Ebert:

"It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

Indeed, ever the enthusiastic and positive warrior, Ebert was even planning to launch Ebert Digital in yet another milestone of the ambitious man's digital projects surrounding the one hobby he has hold dearly for decades: Film criticism.

While this might be largely uncertain for most people, everyone, including us here at The Daily Zombies, are fully expecting just that to happen. After all, we are talking about the fighter who lost his thyroid, then part of his salivary glands, then his jaw. A man who can no longer eat or talk but nonetheless a great man whom astounding passions for film overpowered him to transport both himself and his reader to the fantasy world of cinema. He might not be able to talk but his voice got even "louder" than ever when he wrote 306 film reviews last year, a personal record even for the prolific writer.

But as it turned out, Ebert did not return this time.

The first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975, Ebert and colleague, the late great Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel, popularized film criticism with their television show, Sneak Previews (as well as a series of variously named At the Movies programs including Siskel & Ebert and the Movies). Credited with the creation of the phrase "Two Thumbs Up," Siskel and Ebert helped define and popularized the film industry with their witty banters. 

On April 4, 2013, Ebert passed away at the age of 70. According to his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, there were "No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

As expected from the demise of a great man like Ebert, there have been notable reactions from within and outside the film industry. Most notably would be the emotional statement from President Barack Obama himself:

"Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert.  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."

In an interview with Esquire in 2010, Ebert has indicated his stance on death after his countless battle with the pale rider:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

From all of us here at The Daily Zombies, all of us cinema lovers who now freely "reviews" a film with our comments on the social media or express our opinions with a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" button for a YouTube clip, we would like to extend our gratitudes and to Roger Ebert for his works that truly redefine artistic expression for the cinema and transformed the industry we dearly loved. Thank You, Mr. Ebert. 

We would also like to take this opportunity to offer our condolences to his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, and his many close friends and colleagues. 


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