Smile Politely

The Legend of Roger Ebert

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I never had the privilege of meeting Roger Ebert, although it was certainly a dream of mine. As a kid growing up in Illinois, I was always aware of Roger and his legacy. Before I actually understood what a film critic was, before I could differentiate between a bad movie and a good one, I knew about Roger and I knew he was someone important.

As I matured, film had an increasingly significant role in my life. Whenever the challenges of life started to feel insurmountable, there was always a movie waiting for me that would help me escape. The magic of the cinema was something that astonished me, but I never had the right words to describe it. Roger did.

The beauty of Roger’s work is that he never included any pretense. He shared his expert opinions in a way that allowed everyone to relate. He appreciated the art of filmmaking fully, and allowed his readers to join in on his view without requiring them to be professionals. Roger had a stronger work ethic than we’ll ever be able to imagine, yet he lacked an ego that told him this made him better than others. We could always relate to him, and he always felt human.

His accomplishments, while there are plenty of them, are not what made Roger special. He will not be remembered by the movies he snubbed or the flops he loved. We will remember him because of who he was. Roger embodied the American dream, but even after he had accomplished it he still felt like one of us.

We needed Roger just as much as Roger needed movies. Every time I watch a movie, I will think of Roger and how I can be more like him. In a way, Roger, I’ll see you at the movies.


Contributed by Nicholas J Clark.

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