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Roger Ebert and his lasting impression on film criticism

Christian Harding
Staff Writersaved-you-the-aisle-seat-roger-ebert-comic

On April 4, 2013, famed writer Roger Ebert passed away after battling with cancer for several years. Ebert has become well known over the course of his life for many things, but undoubtedly his most famous work resides in his very long career as a film critic. Ebert started working as a critic in Chicago during 1967 and remained in Chicago for almost the entirety of his career.
It’s in the category of film criticism where Ebert best leaves behind his legacy. Throughout a decades long process, Ebert changed the entire platform of his career forever, albeit unintentionally so. He transformed not only the form, but also the way the public views critics and the way they did their jobs. It went from being simply a job that needed doing to a method of creative expression and an outlet for film lovers everywhere to share in their love of cinema. Like any great director of films, Ebert changed the game simply by doing his job, but in more unique and innovative fashions.
But it would be remiss to leave out Ebert’s longtime friend and coworker Gene Siskel when discussing his long term impact. Siskel and Ebert were longtime partners on several variations of essentially the same television program, where the both of them would review a series of new releases together and often got into debates regarding the merits of certain films they were reviewing. This culminated in the popular ‘Siskel & Ebert At the Movies’ TV show, where the famous catchphrase “Thumbs up/thumbs down” was born. Both men worked on that together until Siskel’s death in early 1999.
After Siskel’s passing, another Chicago journalist named Richard Roeper came in and helped co-host ‘At the Movies’ with Ebert for five more years, until Ebert underwent surgery in the summer of 2006, which would unfortunately lose him his voice and the bottom section of his jaw. For most people in any other profession, this would be a perfectly justified reason to choose to step down, but Ebert’s dedication and love for his career kept him going for seven more years until his death last week.
What else can be said of Roger Ebert? His legacy will live on for as long as there are people who love film and are willing to dedicate their lives to it, either in a position behind the scenes or in the balcony watching the finished product. To quote the final sentence from Ebert’s final blog post via his webpage: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”