Sunday, January 11, 2015

Life Itself: The Story of Roger Ebert

I recently watched the film "Life Itself" based on the memoirs of Roger Ebert. It tells the story of an amazing man with a stellar intellect when it came to viewing films and writing about them. How many film critics can you name? Chances are, not many. Ebert was admired for the way he could write about film in a language that everyone could understand. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a rare honor for a film critic. He wrote 15 books and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A good review from Ebert could make or break a film.

He was the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. His rival critic was Gene Siskel for the Chicago Tribune. The two teamed up to co-host a film criticism show, Siskel and Ebert. They had a rocky relationship, combative and competitive, but nonetheless admired the intellect of one another. Cancer took the life of Siskel (brain cancer) and later Ebert (thyroid and salivary gland cancer that led to the removal of his jaw).

"Life Itself" is hard to watch at times, since it shows Ebert struggling to live his life with a sense of normality after having his jaw removed and losing the ability to speak and eat. He also had trouble walking, after the cancer led to injuries that limited his mobility. But, Roger could still "speak" through Twitter and his website where he could post blogs and film reviews.

Ebert did not marry until the age of 50, and his wife Chaz provided much needed support for Roger, especially late in his life. He died in 2013 at the age of 70. This film is a must see for those who are fans of film, or the writings of Ebert. It shows a life well lived, with passion and resilience.

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