In 1975, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel (1946-1999) changed the tone, temperament and style of film criticism forever; they paved the way and opened the doors and windows of conversation, debate, eliminating elitism, stimulating discourse, and in the process had the time of their lives. The “Siskel/Ebert” show and their iconic “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” resonates today as ultimately erasing intransigent boundaries, allowing thousands of “bloggers” to plummet the keys of their computers, spewing opinions on the positive/negative aspects of movies; in essence they taught every viewer that no opinion was wrong and that all were valid; it was the commencement of an incredible era; glorious, fun, timely. And missed.
Roger Ebert, like Gene Siskel formidably battled cancer; in dignity they lived and in dignity died. Roger allowed the world to view his valiant efforts and refusal to be shamed by the vicissitudes, degradations of this insidious disease; he was a pillar, an inspiration; voluminous fortitude informed his final years. Unlike his health, his critiques remained robust, grounded in inimitable intelligence and insight; nothing could rob him of his love, desire to dissect, vivisect thousands of films; a love, a thirst that only death could quench; he did not “go gently into that good night”.
His legacy is enshrined in granite. May his “star” glimmer with the brightest, no one could be more worthy.