Hushed silences and whispers would fill the theater. Every person in the audience would ask the person next to them, “Hey… is that Roger Ebert?” Time and time again, especially since I began writing for Flixist in 2010, I would see Roger Ebert at film screenings. Time and time again, his presence would result in the same mix of giddiness and respect that would take over the entire theater.
Unfortunately, only two days after announcing his leave of presence due to a recurrence of cancer, Mr. Ebert has passed away. With his passing comes a great loss not only for the film community, but the entirety of Chicago. He embodied film criticism, and to say he had a very distinct and creative voice would be both too obvious and an understatement.
Not only was he essentially the face of film criticism, he had a poetic way with words that was easily accessible for any crowd, whether they were casual weekend moviegoers or self-proclaimed “film fanatics” ready to analyze every element of a film. Even as I write this, my entire Twitter feed, made up of a mix of Chicagoans, non-Chicagoans, film buffs, casual fans, and every wake of life are showing their condolences and respect for him.
Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for paving a path I have found myself following for the past few years. You have been an inspiration, both with film criticism and writing as a whole. When the hushed silence falls across the the theater before every film I watch, I’ll consider it in honor of you. I’ll see you at the movies again one day.