I’ve loved movies since I was a little girl. I came by it honestly. My mother loved them, too. I grew up hearing her stories of how, every weekend, she paid a nickel to see a movie and a show, when she was young. A vaudeville act, a singer, a tap dancer, whatever.
Movies were her passion her entire life. In fact we were planning to go to a movie the afternoon she fell, and broke her hip. An event she never recovered from, unfortunately. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear I could go to the movies every single day.
Which is why I can’t let the week go by without mentioning Roger Ebert.
In my opinion, he is as synonymous with the film industry as the 45-foot high Hollywood sign situated on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains, in Los Angeles. In my opinion, he is as synonymous with the film industry as the actors, themselves.
A phenomenon I bore witness to, every year at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). There he’d be, with his wife, holding hands as they walked from one theatre to the next. And wouldn’t you know, amid the hundreds and hundreds of critics, reporters and journalists who were also there, he’s the one who always stood out. He had as many fans following him, clamouring to see him, to meet him, to talk to him, as the celebrities did. I kid you not. He did.
And no one was ever more gracious. If you loved movies, he’d talk to you. He’d stop. He’d chat. He’d swap movie stories with you. And he’d be more than willing to listen to your opinions on the films you’d seen. The truth is, he wanted to know.
It was pretty well known among festival goers he was a big supporter of TIFF. But what I didn’t know was, he put it on the map. There were a few years, when he was battling cancer, he couldn’t attend; and it was the talk of the festival. Everyone missed him. And his absence was felt.
Now it will be felt even more. Yet another recurrence proved to be too much and he finally lost his battle on Thursday, April 4. No more reviews. No more thumbs up. Or down.
But I think it is important we remember and honour him not just as a pulitzer-prize winning journalist and film critic, but as a man of courage, dignity and grace. To watch him carry on, despite the numerous bouts of cancer, despite the many surgeries, despite the severity of those surgeries, the disfigurement, the loss of his voice and the ability to eat, drink and swallow is nothing short of amazing.
His stoicism. His determination. His strength. His acceptance. His positive outlook. His refusal to hide, or feel sorry for himself. His willingness to talk (through his computer) about it. The fact he continued to go to movies and write about them, almost to the day he died. That he kept up the banter, through Twitter and his blog.
How can you not admire this man?
As far as I’m concerned, he has left an indelible impression. As a film lover, as a journalist and as a man. This is the end of an era. I don’t see him being replaced any time soon.
That’s a wrap.