{April 4, 2013}   The Balcony is Closed

Roger Ebert, who passed away today at the age of 70, along with longtime partner in film criticism Gene Siskel.

Today the world of movie criticism lost arguably one of its brightest lights as Roger Ebert passed away after a long fight with cancer. Throughout, despite losing part of his jaw and his ability to eat, he remained visible, graceful, and lived fully, interacting via his website, blog, Twitter, etc., producing the ‘At the Movies’ show he loved so dearly, giving his trademark thumbs up at awards shows even days after painful surgery. I remember very vividly a blog he wrote in which, rather than lamenting the fact he could no longer enjoy the food he so loved upon losing his ability to eat, he was grateful and appreciative for having had the ability to eat in the past, and the ability to remember the joy of eating. His last year as a critic was one of his most prolific, and, he argued, one of the best movie years he’d seen in a very long time, if ever. Perhaps a high note to go out on, after all.

But to suggest Roger Ebert was ‘just’ a film critic – even perhaps the most famous and successful one of all time – is to do this renaissance man an injustice. He dabbled in movie making, book-writing, was an adopter of all things tech (an early investor in Google, an avid Tweeter, and a prodigious blogger). He was up-to-date on everything from New York Times caption contests to the latest in politics, to movies and everything else. You could find an ‘in’ with Ebert on just about anything if you looked hard enough. Erudite, well-written, and appreciative of high art without being pretentious – accessible yet intellectual  all at the same time.

This Pulitzer Prize winner – the first amongst film critics – will be missed. Rest in Peace, Roger. Reserve us all an aisle seat.

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