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Writing in the dark: Reflections on the literary art of Roger Ebert
Film critics are to filmmakers what Chicago is to New York: a little envious, a lot insecure, secretly fearful of second-class status. Hypersensitive to slights, real or imagined. Important — but not essential. The world would perish without movies; it would, however, manage to rattle along just fine without the people who write about movies. Right?Roger Ebert changed the answer to that question forever. The world's most famous film critic, whose recent death triggered a torrent of sorrow and celebration — sorrow for what we've lost, celebration of what he accomplished — demonstrated the real meaning of the word "critic": It's not just a person who experiences something and then decides, after a period of supercilious chin-stroking, if a movie (or book or TV show or sculpture or concert) warrants the tilting of a thumb up or down, like an emperor whimsically signaling life or death for some luckless supplicant down yonder in the Coliseum.
By Julia Keller
April 14, 2013