Monday, January 20, 2014


Today the Steve James documentary on Roger Ebert (one of my most anticipated films for the ongoing Sundance Film Festival) had its premiere at The MARC in Park City, Utah. The project was first announced on September 7th, 2012 by Ebert himself with the below Tweet:

Ebert is survived by his wife, Chaz, who has been interviewed for the publicity tour leading up to today. What if Ebert had lived to see this film? Would he have reviewed it?

Life Itself is the name of the film, taken from the name of Ebert’s autobiography/memoir published in 2011. In light of the premiere, which I am some 700 miles from, I thought the next best thing I could do would be to start reading the book itself.

This morning I read the introduction, entitled Memories. It only took until page 2 for the sincere words on the page to do something strange to my head and chest which in turn had a funny effect on my eyes. Though I’ve religiously watched At the Movies, Ebert’s television program whereon he was always the permanent fixture, it’s always been Ebert’s writing that I’ve associated most as his “voice.” He realizes in this opening that if it hadn’t been for losing his literal voice to thyroid cancer he may never have written this book:

“How can I tell you what they said? I remember them saying it. In these years after my illness, when I can no longer speak and am set aside from the daily flow, I live more in my memory and discover that a great many things are safely stored away. It all seems still to be in there somewhere.”

in there somewhere

Before beginning the first chapter proper, Ebert describes how his physical condition and some outside coaxing led him to try, utilize and ultimately embrace social media. When I first joined Twitter some four years ago there was nobody I “followed” before him. His dedication and active role to Twitter, Facebook and his blog were inspiring, especially for a “digital immigrant” of his age and condition. He ended his nearly 50-year career in film criticism. I’ve more or less seriously begun my attempt at film criticism by blogging.

“I was born inside the movie of my life.” Ebert delves and deals the details, sights sounds, smells, tastes touches, thoughts that began his life, his film, life itself. I await the expansion of this documentary later this year, but until then I’ll read the story in the man’s own words.

1 comment:

Bryson and Tara said...

I did not know that he couldn't talk! Very interesting...