“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.” – Roger Ebert
Yesterday brought us the terribly sad and tragic news of the death of Roger Ebert, and we here at The Seventh Art thought it would be appropriate to employ our usual format of sharing audiovisual content to take a look at a pair of two choice videos in order to remember one of the multitude of qualities that made him such an important and influential figure in the world of movie criticism and film culture.
Ebert was an incredibly thoughtful lover of movies, a true cinephile, and his love for the art of moving images was a joyful pursuit that also manifested in his constant search for knowledge, experience, and the mysteries of life that he so often expressed a passion for.
Roger Ebert will never be forgotten, and he will be dearly missed.
One of the most notorious moments from the television program Siskel And Ebert And The Movies that Ebert co-hosted with fellow critic Gene Siskel is the debate stirred up between the two concerning David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. Here’s the review…
This particular instance of dissent from the show displays one of the more distinctive characteristics of Ebert’s brand of criticism, that of his own values and how they relate to his evaluation and/or analysis of a film. He often framed his reviews from the perspective of his own subjectivity as a viewer rather than treating the movie as an object being studied from a sense of remove.
This notion is explicated by the man himself in the following clip from the show wherein he and Siskel discuss the nature of criticism…
Ebert’s critical philosophy was one of singular expression, of communicating an opinion born from a personal relationship with a work of art. His criticism always attempted to forge a bond with the reader/viewer/listener so as to relate to them his own personal experience in a way that creates a shared understanding between people, all through the power of the written (or spoken) word. In this sense, he was also a critic – a writer, a person – who placed great importance on connections with others and trusted in the value of empathy.
“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.” – Roger Ebert