Roger Ebert and “Life Itself”
I wrote briefly about the death of Roger Ebert on my Tumblr the day it happened, but didn’t have the words to really do him justice on here. I’ll remember that day forever, though. I was in one of my screenwriting classes of my penultimate semester of grad school. All my classes were in these horrible, stuff, basement-like white rooms with industrial pipes hanging down from all the ceiling. All of my classes that semester were in this one room that also had this egg-carton like sound proofing. This room was horrible. I spent hours there every week. So we’re in class when my teacher has to look something up on the internet and rather nonchalantly says that Ebert had died and then went on with what he was doing. I sat still in my seat. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to sob, but I don’t like showing emotion in public if I can help it. After about ten minutes or so, I said I had to go and I went to the bathroom and I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I was so dazed and so upset, I couldn’t even cry. I got home and I couldn’t cry. I read this very thoughtful email from my mother that she’d sent me because she knew I loved him so much and I still couldn’t cry. I didn’t want to believe he was gone. So I didn’t cry. In a way, he isn’t gone because of his amazing website, where all of his reviews are archived and his life’s work continues through the work of others. Today I saw Life Itself, the documentary based on his memoir (that I somehow have still not read) and I was finally able to cry. What is so great about the film – and Ebert himself – is exactly as the title suggests – his ability to enjoy life, to see the beauty in life, to see how the movies honor this beauty and to share his outlook with others. His was a life worth celebrating, worth mourning, worth remembering and this is fitting tribute. The film is in theaters and available On Demand and on iTunes, so you have no excuse for not watching it. I’ll make you appreciate Ebert’s love of the movies more than you probably already did, but it will also show you a man who faced death by embracing life and moving forward in all its glory as he had done all the years that came before. A man who understood that death is a part of life. A man who was not without his flaws, but much like the movies he celebrated, was more than the sum of his parts. A man who truly lived. I miss him every time I watch a movie, as I’m sure so many others like me do, but I take comfort knowing his is life that will be remembered for years and years to come.