Today the world has lost a true artist and a singular voice. Roger Ebert, at the age of 70, has lost his battle with thyroid cancer. I am not going to list his numerous achievements or discuss his incredible career in depth. There are plenty of other places to seek out that wonderfully inspiring and fascinating information.
Instead I am going to remember the impact that he had on my life, and the lives of all those who consider cinema to be an ever burning passion. While I am a young man who is hopefully at the very beginning of a career in the world of film, I have been a life long cinephile. A major reason for that is in large part due to Mr. Ebert. The other side to that cinephile coin was my father, who I lost almost four years ago to colon cancer. As I devoured every film that he showed me, I began to become more and more interested in more critical approaches to film. The perfect entry point to the world of film criticism was the informative yet accessible writings of Roger (though I did not know him personally, I still feel comfortable calling him Roger). Though his writings could be consumed by people of all ages, they were far from simple. Instead his passion, wit, and frankly his genius was so bright and clear that he could convey the most intellectual observations in a way that could be understood by even the youngest readers.
In Roger’s final blog post just the other day he spoke of the “leave of presence” that he planned on taking.
What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away.
These words are even more poignant now that he has left us, because he really hasn’t gone away. My words, and the words of every person in my Twitter feed and across the entire web are a testament to the fact that he hasn’t truly left us. The way that Roger’s passing has deeply affected such a wide ranging group of people, whether they knew him personally or not, acutely shows what an incredible affect he had on all of our lives. Though his time on earth was ephemeral, his presence will be eternal.
The fact that two people who had such an enormous effect on my life’s greatest passion, and hopefully my career, to cancer is absolutely rage inducing. This is a disease that needs to be stopped before it takes anymore amazing people from us. But that is for a different blog. So instead of devoting any more words to the disease that took them, I will instead spend my time remembering and celebrating their knowledge, joy and passion. I am sure my father has welcomed Roger with open arms and they are sitting down to view a wonderful piece of cinema in the great theater in the sky. Enjoy the screening gentlemen, we will be enjoying your eternal presence.
Update: Honored to have my piece featured over at Criticwire with so many other beautiful words about Roger. Head over there to be incredibly moved at the outpouring of remembrance: http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/roger-ebert-obituaries