Thursday, April 04, 2013

"Roger Ebert"

Roger Ebert was more than an idol for me and I say that not because of the fact he inspired me to write regardless of my inability in the skill and art of writing. I say that because he taught me the greatest lesson in appreciation of film which is that it is fine to love a film your idol hated and it is fine to hate a film your idol loved. It sounds so simple and rational but when personal emotions are wound towards a certain film and you are flabbergasted to see a person who utmost respect and admire despise it which is earth shattering. Consistently reading Ebert’s commentary on the films despite the fact we had more films to our likings in common, there were some heart breaking moments of his scathing review.

He wrote easily 200-300 odd film reviews a year for the past forty years that motivated personally. While my writings have reduced, the passion is still there because of his reviews. His writings which I have read the past 6 years religiously carry the great character of being personal, to the point and most important of all, honest. The man truly embraced the nature of a film and relished every drop of the detail it had to offer. He made sure his readers got the reality of what they can expect from a film. While the viewer got the crux of a film, he also gave a cross section of who he is as a person and through that we came to understand the films he likes. Whether you agree or disagree, you learned something about the person out of his reviews.

His combination of “At the Movies” with Siskel is nothing short of a classic. That is the kind of discussion, argument and fight you would have with great company and those two brought that to the viewers in much more interactive, sharp, brief yet precise reviews of films. When they agreed and admired a film, their love was insurmountably beautiful and when they disagreed and disliked a film, they would spear each other with words that are razor sharped with devilish sarcasm and wit. Siskel’s death of course marked the shows turn of events but Richard Roeper gave his best in filling Siskel and more importantly allowed Ebert to be the wise man he became out of it. I have only seen the recordings of the shows but the change in the person as Ebert is like everyone of us through the process of aging and in his case consistently blossoming.

I never fathomed I would be writing to express myself about the demise of this prolific and passionate writer. Through reading his reviews, I was able to the time and effort that has made me into writing something remotely meaningful and pay my respects to this man who very simply put, loved films and had the simplest and effective tool of showing it. My ritual of checking Thursday morning on his website will be marked with an emptiness hereafter. There again he embraced the technological change that was presented from a man who evolved out of newspaper. He did not fight the age of internet and absorbed completely and used it to his effect. His writing branched out into blog inviting some angry and interesting posts inviting the same from his readers. His statement of “video game can never be an art” still draws so much tension and anger in that community but he laid down his point as best as he could. I disagree with him but he had the best and most interesting presentation in his writing which would be doing a surgery to a patient and the patient understands the need of such action. He brought in people to the table and fed the points and listened thereby prompting the discussion on disagreements.

I was always hoping ship some of the best films from my native language to him and see what he would think about it. It never happened and I never will know. This write up which can be construed as several things has no direction and I would even say has no agenda or purpose. When I heard the news through online chat from a friend of mine, a burst of sadness blanketed me. I have not known Roger Ebert personally and I am not the kind of person who generally gets moved by the death of any known person apart from humane empathy of a lost life but I have known this person through his writing. I have created an image, voice, mannerisms through that and the opinions through his show. Today I lost a friend, an ideal, an inspiring writer but most of all a fellow film admirer. I never got the opportunity to thank the man and this is the closest I can come to thanking you for inspiring, exposing to unknown and powerful films, teaching to disagree with passion and to love films as the way he did. Thank you Roger Ebert! Several great films will go unseen and missed being reviewed by you!