Legendary film critic Roger Eberthas passed away at the age of 70, leaving a massive void in the world of film analysis and criticism that is unlikely to be filled anytime soon. His impact on his field and how people watch and talk about movies cannot be underestimated. However, there’s a reason he was the most influential and widely read critics of all time: he was a damn great writer.
Of course, we don’t need to say that. His Pulitzer Prize says that for him. If you have any doubt that Ebert was one of a kind, perusing through some of his best quotes will give you the proper kick in the pants. Funny, humane, often wickedly funny and always insightful, his words read like some kind of textbook for how to appreciate movies. Here are our favorites:
“If a movie isn’t a hit right out of the gate, they drop it. Which means that the whole mainstream Hollywood product has been skewed toward violence and vulgar teen comedy.”
“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.”
“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”
“I was born inside the movie of my life. The visuals were before me, the audio surrounded me, the plot unfolded inevitably but not necessarily. I don’t remember how I got into the movie, but it continues to entertain me.”
“If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen.”
“The movies that are made more thoughtfully or made or with more ambition often get just get drowned out by the noise.”
“It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.”
“What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: Curious and teachable.”
“If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.”
“[Nicholas] Sparks recently went on record as saying he is a greater novelist than Cormac McCarthy. This is true in the same sense that I am a better novelist than William Shakespeare. Sparks also said his novels are like Greek Tragedies. This may actually be true. I can’t check it out because, tragically, no really bad Greek tragedies have survived.”
“Because we are human, because we are bound by gravity and the limitations of our bodies, because we live in a world where the news is often bad and the prospects disturbing, there is a need for another world somewhere, a world where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers live.”
“In thinking about ‘depressing movies,’ many people don’t realize that all bad movies are depressing, and no good movies are.”
“I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
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