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Celebrity film critic, Roger Ebert’s living legacy

“Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter. However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.”

Roger Ebert wrote these words April 2, two days before his death. He continued to explain how his health is rapidly declining and he will not be able to review as many movies in the future. Coming from his usual 200 reviews a year, most expected his drop in attendance wouldn’t be reduced by much.

The loss of Ebert is one of the greatest losses to the film and journalism community I have ever witnessed. He was not just a movie critic. He was an icon. He represented film critics everywhere. From giving select films two thumbs up to being relentlessly critical when a film failed to be adequate, Ebert was one of a kind.

Ebert was the first critic to win the Pulitzer Prize and the only critic to ever receive his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He died at age 70 after a long-term battle with cancer.

He planned on starting back up his television show and updating his classic film reviews.

Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.”

I remember watching Ebert on television growing up. Although I didn’t always agree with him, I wanted to know his opinion. Even as a kid, I respected him.

As I grew older, I began reading every review he wrote, always after I saw the movie. Go to movie, formulate opinion, read Roger Ebert’s blog, consider his insight. This was a weekly, or sometimes daily, hobby of mine.

After a while, I recognized his critical skills. Anyone can see a movie; many may even write about a movie. But not many can allow readers to truly feel the movie.

Ebert made me realize what I wanted to do with my life before I even knew there was a thing called journalism. From watching him and reading him, I knew I wanted to make my living watching movies and writing about them.

Although I still have a while before I can hopefully make my dream a reality, I still give credit to Ebert for making me believe my dream could become a possibility.

When I first heard of his death, I felt the urge to burst out in tears. Strange, since I have never felt this way about a person I had never even met, but then I began thinking and realized it felt like he was actually in my life. I read him on a daily basis. He inspired me and he is everything I hope to become, minus the nasty cancer part.

egolden@unews.com

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