Hello, fellow moviegoers!
If there was ever a movie critic that became beloved both by film fans and the casual moviegoer, it would be Roger Ebert. Ebert, along with Gene Siskel, became household names through their several TV programs in which they would review the latest films. Many people turned to Siskel & Ebert’s reviews when debating whether or not to see a certain film.
Recently for a class, we were asked to read through somebody’s memoir. Immediately I knew I had to read Ebert’s Life Itself. It is a book I purchased this past summer, and I already planned on reading it, so things just kind of worked out in that way. I finished the book a few days ago, and I decided to talk about it on here. I have yet to review a book on this blog, so I figured it would be appropriate to review the most well-known film critic’s memoir.
Life Itself: A Memoir is one of the most interesting and unique books I’ve ever read. I would say that because it wasn’t really a book; it was a conversation. The way in which Roger Ebert wrote this book made the reader feel as if they were sitting in a café talking with Ebert personally. I believe that is the greatest strength this book had. Through reading, it feels as if you know Ebert on a personal level, which in many ways becomes true. At times it feels as if he wrote the book, not for the readers, but for himself. He was reflecting on his own life, admitting his own mistakes, and seeing where he excelled and where he failed. He left nothing out. There were several points in the book that he said he felt pained or ashamed writing something, but it was the truth. It had to be there.
I think that this approach Mr. Ebert took was the perfect way to write his memoir. It made him much more relatable. He wasn’t just the TV Film Critic personality many people knew him as; he was a real person. He had a life outside of film. He had many friends, lovers, and rivals. He went through many different jobs and upset some people with things he would write about them, whether it be calling the school football coach a pumpkin, or telling Chevy Chase his new film was terrible to his face on live television. His opinion was his own. Through this book, Ebert revealed much of his personal side, not just his career and the friends he made, but also his alcoholism and he approach towards sex throughout his life. These very personal words that Ebert writes help to pull the audience into his writing.
Reading this book feels like reading someone’s diary. Not as in “Karen looked so cute today”, but more “I had to choose between my girlfriend and alcohol.” In many ways, reading this book is a look into how one goes through life, reacts to certain situations, and deals with the worst that life can offer. That’s not to say that Life Itself is an utterly depressing read that will have you questioning everything you know. Ebert does a brilliant job highlighting the great parts of his life equally as much as the terrible. He speaks of his fame, and the joy he got when Dan-Dan the Yo-Yo Man showed up to his elementary school. He speaks of his happy childhood, and his first jobs in Journalism. He speaks of his happy marriage with Chaz, who was the best thing to happen to him. Ebert perfectly captured in his book what it is to be human. There are great things, horrible things, and things that have no consequence whatsoever. This book was appropriately titled Life Itself, as that is what the book is about. Ebert isn’t the focus of the book, he’s more of a lens to look through and see a bigger picture.
If you are at all interested in the life of Roger Ebert, I would highly recommend reading Life Itself. There are many things about Ebert that you would never guess when watching or reading his reviews. He wrote his memoir masterfully and you won’t be able to put it down. It made for a fantastic read!
Have you read Life Itself? Which of Ebert’s reviews do you remember the most? Let me know by commenting on this post! Also, if you enjoyed this article, share it on Facebook and Twitter! Don’t forget, I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so check back then for more movie reviews and miscellaneous movie thoughts!
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