Roger Ebert: Remembering the Legacy of the Iconic Film Critic

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Remembering the Legacy of Iconic Film Critic Roger Ebert

Few film critics commanded the admiration and respect that Roger Ebert achieved in his lifetime. As the first-ever film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, and the first American ever to be recently inducted into the prestigious Bombay Film Critics Circle — only a select few have had the impact and accolades Roger achieved.

A Lifelong Journey in Writing and Film Criticism

Roger Ebert was born in the quaint small town of Urbana, Illinois, in 1942. He was passionate about films from an early age. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1964, Roger began working at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967 as their film critic. It was here that he developed his unique style of film criticism — he was able to take complex concepts and make them accessible, even to non-film critics.

Within a year, he released his first book, “A Kiss is Still a Kiss,” which served as the first publication of many that followed. He would go on to co-author nearly twenty books with writers like Gene Siskel, Michael Wilmington, and Martin Scorsese.

In 1975, he and Siskel developed their popular TV program “Sneak Previews” which was later renamed “At the Movies,” and unanimously considered the definitive program for learning movies reviews. This syndicated show aired for an astounding 23 years, making it the longest-running program of its kind in history.

The Awards and Accolades of This World-Renowned Film Critic

Not a year went by where Roger Ebert wasn’t presented with awards, accolades, and titles. In 1975, he was given the Journalism Award from the National Society of Film Critics. He was the first critic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975 and in 2004, the Pulitzer board posthumously added his name to its list of Pulitzer Prize winners for his 1968 essay “Trash, Art, and the Movies.”

His work also landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004 for having the most published movie reviews — more than 8,000!

Roger Ebert’s commitment to raising awareness of societal issues through his work hadn’t gone unnoticed either. In 1989, he was given the American Civil Liberties Union Bill of Rights award.

A Permanent Mark and Legacy

Roger Ebert’s love for film and writing was undeniable, and it reflected in everything he did — be it his books, his reviews, or his humanitarian work. His work has not only left an indelible mark on the media and entertainment industries but society as a whole. His contributions to film criticism, literature, and television will be remembered for many generations to come.

A Celebration of His Life and Lasting Legacy

Before his passing in 2013, Roger and his wife Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert had been working diligently to build a legacy that would keep his memory alive. Today, the Ebertfest Film Festival, established in 1999, takes place annually in Urbana-Champaign, which brings together filmmakers and moviegoers alike, who honor the memory of the late film critic while celebrating the art of the movies.

In 2013, Roger was even the feature subject on an episode of the iconic ‘Academy Originals’ series. This episode highlighted his long, successful career in film criticism and celebrated all of his accomplishments.

Ensuring a Digital Legacy

Roger Ebert spent the last few years of his life developing a lasting digital legacy for future generations to access. The first of his online efforts, “Roger Ebert’s Journal,” was an online blog where he gave daily opinions on a variety of topics from the world of film.

In 2010, he launched, now known as RogerEbert.Org. It houses processes for fellow members to share film criticism and reviews. This website also serves as the official home to Roger Ebert’s archives. It has vintage reviews, scripts, and even a chat function where like-minded individuals can discuss movies they have recently seen.

Roger Ebert was also one of the first film writers to make a move to the digital age by creating a platform to house his writings exclusively. His digital archive—including the “Great Movies” series—was made available through the subscription service Ebert Digital, which gave subscribers access to hundreds of his pieces of drawn-out criticism and analysis.

In addition to the digital efforts, Roger Ebert also spent his last few years of life writing his memoirs, Life Itself. This memoir was turned into a touching biopic in 2014, which was produced by Steve James.

Roger’s Enduring Impact on the Film Industry

Roger Ebert was considered an expert voice in the world of film. His reviews were often the last word on whether a movie was a success or a flop. But his impact wasn’t limited to just movies — Ebert was also a gifted writer who devoted himself to the arts and humanities.

He was one of the earliest adopters of digital technologies to promote and enlighten about the world of film. His digital efforts have left an undeniable mark and have few peers. Writers, directors, and film fans all continue to be inspired by his work to this day.

In total, Roger wrote more than 10,000 reviews over the course of his career and received an incredible number of awards and accolades. His name has become synonymous with film criticism and is well-known worldwide.

Though Roger Ebert passed away more than seven years ago, he still lives on through his journalism, activism, film reviews, and digital efforts. His enduring legacy ensured that he left a mark on the world of film that will never be forgotten. His film criticism, writing, and activism through the use of digital technologies shaped the world of film as we know it today and will leave a lasting impression for years to come.

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