Two years ago when Roger Ebert was still with us, I sent him an idea of mine. I asked him if he would consider having a video essay made for each film in his “Great Movies” series. At the time, his temporarily resurrected show “At The Movies” was on hiatus. But in that show, he had a segment where he would reflect on cinematic subjects in the voice of “Alex” from his MacBook. It wasn’t his real voice, but in the time since he had lost his speech, it was one that those of us who have long followed him had identified with.
Roger told me that he felt a little creepy about the notion. But I left the door open for him to explore later on, as I was convinced that no matter what manner he chose to communicate, his wisdom and warmth would always pull us in. We never got to bring it up again.
Roger was the one who got me into making video essays, unintentionally at first. He wanted his original Far Flung Correspondents to introduce themselves to his audience as he brought us on board. We all were incredibly shy at first, but how could we say no to him? We each gave it our shot by talking about a film that was dear to us. But I thought rather than let people see me talk about it, why not show them what I was talking about. And so started my love affair with this craft of revealing the beauty of films, by making them.
I have always been grateful to Roger Ebert for a great many things. And the memory of his passing only amplifies my desire to see him not forgotten. No one loved movies more, and by creating this video essay from his film commentary for DARK CITY, I choose to bring his cinematic intimacy back to as much life as I can. I send my great thanks to Chaz Ebert for giving me the chance to bring back Roger, even for a few moments. Because God knows how much he is missed.
3 thoughts on “Listening to Roger Ebert One Year Later”
The first movie that I bought with a commentary track by Ebert. In fact, I saw the movie because it was playing on TV and was advertised as Ebert’s pick for best film of its year. Boy was he right.
Lovely video essay, Michael. You should do ones for the other three films that he did commentary tracks for: Citizen Kane, Floating Weeds, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
I usually ignore DVD commentaries because many of them are pretty boring, but there are good ones and Ebert’s commentary for “Dark City” is one of them. I have not listened to his other DVD commentaries yet, but I’m looking forward to getting the chance to listen to them.
Your video essay presents well why Ebert was enthusiastic about this underrated SF film, Michael. Like many unforgettable images from Werner Herzog’s films, its striking visual moments are something to be remembered.
Sweet commentary—makes me want to see this film again—I liked that old-school film noir Goth-look, anyway. Grew up watching Ebert and Siskel, and they definitely played a significant part in my becoming a film part in my becoming a film buff. R.I.P. Roger—I just might go see LIFE ITSELF in honor of his and Siskel’s memories.