On Thursday, April 4th, 70-year old, legendary film critic Roger Ebert succumbed to his long bout with cancer. The news of his passing saddens me a great deal, because aside from his revered status in the film world, he was truly a passionate lover of great storytelling.
One of the things I respected and admired in Roger Ebert was his ability to tell it like it is. If he thought a film was crap—he said so. If he thought a film was phenomenal—he said so as well. I didn’t always agree with his assessment, but what I did appreciate was his ability to put things in their proper context. This is something that frequently gets lost with a lot of critics who feel that if a story isn’t some serious, high-drama art piece—it does not deserve respect or appreciation.
This is so fundamentally flawed, and indicative of an elitist mentality, that judges the common folk’s intellectual capacity to be inferior to the learned academic’s. For me, stories are in everything, but more importantly, stories have different functions. Some stories are there to make you think; some stories are there to make you cry. Some stories remind us of our hi-story; while some touch upon the issues of today. And still, there are stories that scare the shit out of you, while others make you laugh until you pee in your pants. The beauty of having diversity in storytelling is that we can capture the entire spectrum of the human experience.
The world of cinema is perhaps the most powerful medium of storytelling in human history. It has affected and changed our lives in the most profound ways. Perhaps, the biggest, is its portrayal of the human story. As a lover of this art form, Roger Ebert moved, inspired, and challenged us to share in this passion. He reminded us of the importance of being engaged in the world of moving images and words, and in spite of his own devastating and dramatic life story—he never wavered from this. It is this passion and love that in my opinion, makes him a legend.