Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Prolific, passionate and perceptive to the end, the cancer-stricken film critic celebrated the classics and championed the forgotten gems. His long-running weekly TV show was famous for its thumb-slinging sound bites, but Ebert's Pulitizer Prize-winning reviews were never slight or superficial -- and always sparked with his love of movies.


Much will be written in the next few days about Roger Ebert, the prolific, passionate and perceptive film critic, author and TV personality who passed away Thursday, age 70, after a long running and defiant battle with cancer. I picked up Ebert’s collection, The Great Movies II, just to revisit the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s sharp, smart, never highfalutin but always inspiring writing, and found this absolutely wonderful, and poignant passage in his entry on the Three Colors Trilogy, by Krzysztof Kieslowski: (The boldface below is mine.)

“Because  he made most of his early work in Poland during the Cold War, and because his masterpiece, The Decalogue, consists of ten one-hour films that do not fit easily on the multiplex conveyor belt, he has still not received the kind of recognition given those he deserves to be named with, like Bergman, Ozu, Fellini, Keaton and Bunuel. He is one of the filmmakers I would turn to for consolation if I learned I was dying, or to laugh with on finding I would live after all.

 “He often deals with illness, loss, and death, but deep pools of humor float beneath the surfaces of his films. There is a sequence in White (1994) where his hero, a Polish hairdresser, is so desperately homesick in Paris that he arranges to be sent back to Warsaw curled up inside a suitcase. His friend at the other end watches the airport conveyor belt with horror. The bag is not there. It has been stolen by thieves who break the lock, find only the little man, beat him savagely, and throw him on a rubbish heap. Staggering to his feet, he looks around, bloody but triumphant, and cries `Home at last!’”

 So Roger is dead, but his wit and wisdom lives on.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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