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Why Is Roger Ebert So Famous and Beloved – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Why Is Roger Ebert So Famous and Beloved



If you were a movie-loving kid growing up in the ’90s, chances are Roger Ebert was a member of your family – not in the traditional sense, but through one of his books. His behemoth volumes, either the “Home Movie Home Companion” series or the “Video Companion,” were always there for your family to consult and determine the next potential VHS rental. But if your passion for cinema went beyond just binge-watching, there were few guides more important than Ebert’s.

While there were other critics who appeared on TV, radio, and newspapers, it was Roger who always had the most compelling arguments. With a simple yet refined writing style, he turned film journalism into an art. Even when you didn’t agree with him, you kept on reading or watching his show. Roger represented the idea that anybody could speak about film, but only if they could state their ideas in a manner that everyone could understand.

Ebert is undoubtedly the most important film critic of all time and an icon who would have plenty to say about the current state of the movie industry. We like to think he’s still with us, celebrating art that isn’t easy for everyone to tackle but one that he definitively proved was possible.

So how did he do it? The elegance of his reviews. If you’re reading this, you probably know what “Film Twitter” is all about. People constantly use fancy vocabulary to make a statement, but it’s always obnoxious. It’s precisely the opposite of what Roger Ebert did when he wrote or spoke about movies. His style was elegant yet basic, and he didn’t take unnecessary turns. His arguments were always valid because he developed them in a way that everyone could identify with.

It helps that his writing was very well-edited, but Roger never intended to sound as if he was above you from an intellectual point of view. He didn’t sound like a posh scholar who knows about movies. He expressed what we thought, regardless of whether you agreed with his consideration or not, in a beautiful, readable manner. This is what made him famous in the first place, as he turned art journalism into something objective that still had a strong identity.

You could tell that Roger loved films above everything else. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975, and every single one of his reviews was written as if it were the last film he was watching. With every word, you felt the need to go back and reevaluate using Roger’s argument. He made us look at films as works of art that could be discussed and dissected, not just as entertainment vehicles that follow a commercial agenda.

While we didn’t always agree with Roger Ebert, his style turned his arguments into something valid and harmless. He could love a film that you despised or shred one to pieces that you loved, but in the end, you only closed his book in a representation of a handshake between two opposite views. Peace was possible.

Roger Ebert’s sincerity was enough to change his mind about films, like “The Sweet Life,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Blade Runner.” When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to change your opinion about a film?

If you grew up during the ’90s and in your household movies were a huge deal, there’s a very high chance Roger Ebert was part of your family. Not in the traditional sense but through the presence of one of his books. They were behemoths with thousands of pages and either you had the “Home Movie Home Companion” series or the “Video Companion.” In any case, the Chicago-based critic’s statements were always there for your family to look up and determine what was the next potential VHS tape rental. If the love for the movies went beyond the regular binge, and you wanted to learn about film, few guides were as important as Ebert’s.

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Yes, there were other critics, and they also showed up on TV, radio, and newspapers. They also published guides and your family could use those as well. However, it was Roger who always had compelling arguments. Using a very simple, yet refined, writing style he turned film journalism into art. You loved how he wrote, and even when you didn’t agree with him, you kept on reading or watching his show. Roger represented the idea that anybody could speak about film. But only if you were capable of stating your idea in a manner that everybody would understand.

Evidently, the most important film critic of all time, Roger Ebert is an icon that would surely have something to say today considering the current status of the movie industry. That’s why we like to think he’s beside us, celebrating art that isn’t easy for everyone to tackle but one he definitely proved was possible. How did he do it?


The Elegance Of His Reviews

Life itself roger ebert
Magnolia Pictures

If you’re reading this, then you probably know what “Film Twitter” is all about. We won’t give much detail about the toxic wasteland that social networks can turn into sometimes. But what seems pretty common about it, is that people constantly use fancy vocabulary to make a statement, and a rather simple one for that matter. It’s never not obnoxious. It’s precisely the opposite of what Roger Ebert did when he wrote or spoke about movies.

Related: Roger Ebert’s Most Hated Horror Movies of All Time

His style was elegant yet basic. He didn’t take unnecessary turns and his points were always valid because, for each one of them, he developed his arguments in a way that everyone could identify with. It helps that his writing was very well-edited, but Roger never intended to sound as if he was above you from an intellectual point of view. He didn’t sound like a posh scholar who knows about movies. He expressed what we thought, regardless if you agreed with his consideration or not, in a beautiful, readable manner. This is what made him famous in the first place, as he turned art journalism into something objective that still had a strong identity.

You Could Actually Tell He Loved Films Above Everything

Roger chaz life itself
Magnolia Pictures

Roger won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975. He actually got an award for writing about something he loved more than anything else: movies. And you could tell he did. Every single one of his reviews was written as if it were the last film he was watching and with every word you felt the need to go back and reevaluate using Roger’s argument. He made us look at films as works of art that could be discussed and dissected, and not as mere entertainment vehicles that follow a commercial agenda.

Related: How Roger Ebert’s Last Movie Review Is the Perfect End to His Career

It’s no wonder that reading his 4-star reviews is actually more exciting than reading those about films he hated. There were tons of those as well, and even books were specifically written about the films he hated. However, one thing’s for sure. If there’s something that Roger loved more than the films he loved, was the sacred act of watching films using the ritualistic approach of entering a huge theater, sitting on your favorite seat, with your favorite snack, and alongside your partner.

The Difference Between Being Able To Express Reasoning And Being Offensive

lifeitself ebert
Magnolia Pictures

We don’t always agree with Roger Ebert. Film is art and thus, it calls for subjectivity. You could despise a film, and Roger would hail it somehow. Or you could love it, and Roger would shred it to pieces. Nevertheless, his style would turn his arguments into something valid and harmless. In the end, you didn’t agree with him. You only closed his book in a representation of a handshake between two opposite views. Peace was possible. But if you had liked Rob Reiner’s Norththings would have been different.

Roger was famous and people loved him because of his honesty when referring to everyday films. They were the same ones you saw in a huge multiplex, rented on your local video store, or won the most awards. Whether he liked them or not, he gave shape to that opinion on your mind that sometimes was too hard to express. The sincerity of his style was enough to make him change his mind about films. Some noteworthy ones were The sweet life, Groundhog Dayand Blade Runner. Changing your opinion about a film. Now, when was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to do that?

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