I read last month, with some degree of sadness, that Ebert and Roeper will end its run, concluding a show that started with Gene Siskel (may he rest in peace) and Roger Ebert arguing about films in a most entertaining way. When Gene died, a few co-hosts were sampled, and Richard Roeper was settled on. He’s okay, I guess, but the show hasn’t been the same. I’ve been away from their show for quite a while, as it doesn’t seem to screen here at all (Margaret and David, while good, don’t have that thing that Gene and Roger did). Roger has been through a great deal of health issues in the past few years, which have not changed his writing at all, but they have unfortunately left him unable to speak.
Roger Ebert writes like a house on fire. I’ve always enjoyed his reviews, which I typically read after I see a film. They often show me another facet to the film, something I missed, or didn’t think was important. He’s the first film critic to win a Pulitzer prize. He’s the only critic to warrent a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mica and I watched the Alien series over the period of a month or so, and I went through and read all the reviews – one of which was liked to his review of Dark City, one of my favourite films, and I review that I’d already read. But I read it again. How could I help it? Such wonderful writing. Here’s how it starts:
“Dark City” by Alex Proyas is a great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like “Metropolis” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” If it is true, as the German director Werner Herzog believes, that we live in an age starved of new images, then “Dark City” is a film to nourish us. Not a story so much as an experience, it is a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects—and imagination.
Wow. And here’s how it ends:
It adds treasure to our notions of what can be imagined.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be Alex Proyas reading those words. After the ill-fated filming of The Crow, his previous film, the sense of complete vindication, of joy and triumph – it’s would have been indescribable. “It adds treasure to our notions of what can be imagined.”. Can there be a higher compliment of a creative endeavour?
Please take some time to look through Roger Ebert’s site and read some reviews of films you love.
I’ll highlight just one more, probably the best film review I’ve ever read=, of one of the best films I’ve ever seen, Trois Coleurs Rouge by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The film is brilliant, and the review is its equal. As brilliant as the film is, the review is just as brilliant – and it’s a hard job writing words that are as good as an entire film. A filmmaker has much more control over the viewer than a writer has over a reader, especially in such a short piece. Roger Ebert has managed to recreate in a few hundred words the zeitgeist of an entire film – not just any film, but a truly great one.