The history books will record Roger Ebert as a great film critic. He was that and, I am certain, much more to those who loved and knew him best. His loss has been felt by many around the globe because of the millions he touched. Ebert took us to the movies for years; he guided our ticket purchases, awakened in us a poetic appreciation for films we might not otherwise have seen; and best of all, he called the public away from the mindless, lowest common denominator of entertainment. His ability to critique film and his way with words had the effect of “raising all our boats” in the areas of culture, intellect, emotion, and even an awareness of the sacred.
Ebert’s ability to awaken us is what makes his death feel so tragic; but it is also what makes his now popularized letter, “I Do Not Fear Death,” equally as tragic. Ebert’s final critique came to us not in the form of a film review, but in a staunch and unwavering gaze cast toward seeming permanence of death. It has taken the Internet somewhat by storm and praised by many.
I confess, I found little praiseworthy in it. In fact, it primarily aroused in me a deep sense of pity to see a man with such brilliance and appreciation for beauty in life take those gifts and place them in a room with such a low ontological ceiling. [Read more…]