The Man, The Myth, The Legend...

courtesy of CNN

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures, CNN films


One of the greatest to ever do it. Roger Ebert one of the legendary voice of american cinema. After watching the documentary LIFE ITSELF directed amazingly by Steven James (Hoop Dreams) while being executive produced by Martin Scorsese (Wolf Of Wall Street) and Steve Zaillian (Moneyball). The film is based on Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name.

Life Itself is a 2014 American biographical documentary film about Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, The film makes use of footage and interviews with American film critic Roger Ebert during the final months of his life interspersed with interviews of his friends, colleagues, and family including: Chaz Ebert (his wife), Martin ScorseseWerner HerzogErrol Morris, and Ava DuVernay, among others. The film features clips from Ebert's popular television show with Gene Siskel, including outtakes, and their many appearances on shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. The film also explores the relationship between Siskel and Ebert, Roger's friendship with Russ Meyer and their collaboration on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, as well as how Roger ultimately came to transcend film criticism to become an influential cultural voice.

This film’s made me feel so many things while watching it. Aside from the fact that I’m huge Hollywood history nut. Meaning that I like discovering how people in the industry became who they are or how a product from media entertainment became what it is. However a story like this one is no typical Hollywood story in the way that you think. Throughout the film Ebert finds a way to add levity to mask the trauma he faced through fighting back against cancer. His light shone not only in his work but also in his ability to change his medium forever despite everything he’s been through. This is a feel good movie that everyone should check out and see the only wish I have is that they’d do one on Gene Siskel.

Steve James did some powerful work with the use of in text dialogue being shown to track Roger’s progress though out the film. It was also very cool to see how Roger went from humble beginnings to his downfall into alcoholism to his eventual rise and popularity in broadcast television. Not to mention the use of archive footage from every iteration of the show from Siskel and Ebert TV programs. However the film wasn’t the easiest thing to watch it was hard seeing Ebert go through the tough surgeries or daily routine knowing he had displeasure for them but still pushed through with a positive attitude despite his situation. I also loved seeing interviews with filmmakers he’s inspired to make films throughout his career. Ebert was open about himself and didn’t care what nobody thought. His relationships were so wholesome and genuine but also had their bumpy roads however throughout those times he always remained the same. He spoke out against wrongful acts as one of the youngest journals in the field, at least within his hometown.

I’m glad I got to see this movie because Ebert is one I hold dear to my heart like I said even to this day the work of him and many others still inspire people in the field. Me being one of them with my newly minted website here. He showed everyone that life is hard but it’s how you push through come back and grow from it that really counts and reminds us all that if you love what you do you’ll never find work a day of your life.

Written By William Christian Praise