April 5, 2013

The balcony is now closed... Roger Ebert 1942-2013

Growing up, there were few things that I enjoyed watching as much as Siskel & Ebert going back and forth with each other, arguing over movies. It was my Saturday ritual, and my only means of seeing film discussed in such a lively and in your face manner. *The kids of today have it way too easy with endless amounts of info at their fingertips, via the Internet. There was a time when we got what we got, and had to make due with it.

Luckily, one of those things that we got way back then, was Roger Ebert.

Film is important to people. At a glance, it It seems like nothing more than a superficial medium that's geared towards earning fame and profit, which it is, but amidst all of that nonsense, movies give us one thing that we are all constantly in need of; catharsis.

Movies are a release for audiences, and are often times a reflection of their own lives and feelings, or even hopes and dreams. Even in the best of times, life is a tough bitch that can and will beat us down if we let it. We all endure instances and feelings of sadness, tragedy, death, loss, complacency... and all the while, film is there for us, providing a much needed escape or an empathetic look into ourselves and each other, which helps us find, at least for a short while, some small measure of peace and comfort.

Roger Ebert got that, and from my very small prospective, from my even smaller corner of the world, I think that's why he loved the movies.

I feel brave enough to make that blind assumption, because of one particular quote of his that has always stuck with me:

“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.”

I believe that too, and I also believe that above all else, that's what film exists to do; help us empathise with each other.

There were plenty of movies that Roger Ebert despised that I loved, but I never begrudged him his opinion. He was especially hard on Horror movies over the years. He once said of Hellraiser 2:

"That makes Hellbound: Hellraiser II an ideal movie for audiences with little taste and atrophied attention spans who want to glance at the screen occasionally and ascertain that something is still happening up there."

Total bullshit. Hellraiser 2 is one of my faves, and I couldn't agree less with his view of the film... and yet, I enjoyed listening to why he felt that way about it. I guess that's that empathy thing coming into play.

Agree with his reviews or not, the man loved film, and he used his medium to champion that love. He opened generations of eyes to the good and bad in cinema, and if nothing else, got us to debate his points, and discuss film.

He was a true legend, and his voice will be sorely missed.

The balcony is now closed, forever.

On his illness- "I refuse to become a recluse," Roger said, while communicating by tapping out his thoughts on a laptop and then relaying them with a computerized voice. "I have a crooked mouth and a dressing around my neck. Nothing to be ashamed of." 

On film- "No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough."

On film- "If you have to ask what it (a movie) symbolizes, it didn't."

On death- "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. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting"

"Turn your eyes skyward and believe that there is a place that takes us in once we've left this mortal coil, and hope above all other things that our loved ones wait for us there, with open arms."

1 comment :

  1. Definitely a man to be remembered and respected. v_v
    Two thumbs up.