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Thumbs Down: Roger Ebert, Legendary Film Critic Dies at 70

BY ERICK FERNANDEZ|

Legendary Film Critic Roger Ebert faced death with bravery, sharing his voice with readers until the end, even when he none.
Legendary Film Critic Roger Ebert faced death with bravery, sharing his voice with readers until the end, even when he none.

“Los Amantes Pasejeros (I’m So Excited),” the latest film to be directed by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, is set to release on June 28th. As a cinephile, this causes some sort of delirium within me. Soon, the reviews will start pouring in, and the reviews are the first things I read before I go see movies. The problem is, the best critic is no longer with us; the man I came to first to verify the greatness of a film is no longer with us. Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic that worked for the Chicago Sun-Times passed away from a long battle with cancer on Thursday April 4, 2013.

I was in the cafeteria when I read the news alert from my phone. It was hard to believe and saddening at the same time. I had forgotten about the North Korea dilemma at that moment and all I could think about is how much he had inspired me. I have studied film for a long time and Roger Ebert had a place in my heart as my go-to guy when debating whether to watch a film. It was simple; thumbs up meant I would pay the hefty $13.50 for a ticket, thumbs down meant I would avoid it. It was a simple system that Roger Ebert created and one that would stick with moviegoers for years to come. His reviews had personality and drew from his life experiences, which made them relatable to every film enthusiast.

Another important factor was his battle. He never let the cancer get to him and was not afraid of death. He lost his bottom jaw and his ability to speak, but he never lost the ability to express his opinions about a film. He fought on and gave us genius articles. His blog at the Chicago Sun-Times had always been a gateway despite his hard battle. Word to word, a spark of excitement would spread through me like a sugar rush; whether the film was good or bad, there was always apparent passion in his words.

“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” –Roger Ebert

Now, I go to his website, and it is full of remembrances of great people who knew him, people who appreciated his charisma and opinions, the many fans that turned to him for a certain thumbs up or thumbs down. Now that’s gone. It will be hard to see a film without his criticism. Sure, we have A.O. Scott from the New York Times, but there’s no personality—surely an aspect of human nature that Roger Ebert did not lack.

So on June 28th, when I go to see Almodovar’s latest film, I will be wondering what Ebert would have thought of the film. One thing is for certain; whatever film is being watched out there could be the worst or the best. When we spill our opinions to friends, we have two options: thumbs up or thumbs down. See you at the movies, Roger.

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