For years, Roger Ebert was "the fat one" in a television film critic pairing. It has taken a near-death experience for us to be reminded that he's a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and a passionate voice for film as art. ---
A new profile of Ebert in the March Esquire magazine chronicles the multiple surgeries that have left Ebert unable to speak, eat or drink. The article itself is a magnificent piece of writing, but it's also a remarkable portrait of Ebert's response to what could be considered a tragedy. Re-focused on his skills as a writer, he has become perhaps more articulate than ever.
Ebert has been a target of conservative ire recently for taking unapologetic shots at Sarah Palin, Tea Party-ers and the like. He's clearly reached a point in his life where he doesn't care about taming his views, and you can think of that what you will, just as you can agree or disagree with his film criticisms. Personally, I owe Ebert a tremendous debt for his ahead-of-the-curve support of online film criticism a decade ago. When we met at Sundance over the years while he was still in full health, he was unfailingly kind and engaging. It was an emotional experience seeing him back in Park City this year -- not because of the startling change in his physical appearance, but because it was an indicator that he has refused to surrender his love of movies. His voice transcends his ability to speak. We should all be so devoted to what we love.