Roger Ebert's most memorable quotes on life, death, and the movies
On Thursday, legendary film critic Roger Ebert passed away at the age of 70 after a long bout with cancer.
The longtime writer for the Chicago Sun-Times enjoyed a storied, prolific career — he published 306 movie reviews last year alone. With such an immense body of work to his name, Ebert leaves behind plenty of memorable quips, quotes, and insights.
Below is a collection of some of his more memorable lines.
"No good film is too long and no bad movie is short enough."
"Every great film should seem new every time you see it."
On Do The Right Thing: "Of course it is confused. Of course it wavers between middle-class values and street values. Of course it is not sure whether it believes in liberal pieties or militancy. Of course some of the characters are sympathetic and others are hateful. And of course some of the likable characters do bad things. Isn't that the way it is in America today? Anyone who walks into this film expecting answers is a dreamer or a fool. But anyone who leaves the movie with more intolerance than they walked in with wasn't paying attention." [Chicago Sun-Times]
On E.T.: "This movie made my heart glad. It is filled with innocence, hope, and good cheer. It is also wickedly funny and exciting as hell. E.T.—The Extra-Terrestrial is a movie like The Wizard of Oz, that you can grow up with and grow old with, and it won't let you down." [Chicago Sun-Times]
On Star Wars: "Every once in a while I have what I think of as an out-of-the-body experience at a movie. When the ESP people use a phrase like that, they're referring to the sensation of the mind actually leaving the body and spiriting itself off to China or Peoria or a galaxy far, far away. When I use the phrase, I simply mean that my imagination has forgotten it is actually present in a movie theater and thinks it's up there on the screen. In a curious sense, the events in the movie seem real, and I seem to be a part of them." [Chicago Sun-Times]
On bad movies
Armageddon: "No matter what they're charging to get in, it's worth more to get out." [Chicago Sun-Times]
The Brown Bunny: "I will one day be thin, but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of 'The Brown Bunny.'" [Chicago Sun-Times]
Battlefield Earth: "Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way." [Chicago Sun-Times]
North: "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." [Chicago Sun-Times]
On his personal life
"When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be." [Esquire]
"The problem with using will power, for me, was that it lasted only until my will persuaded me I could take another drink. At about this time I was reading The Art of Eating, by M. F. K. Fisher, who wrote: 'One martini is just right. Two martinis are too many. Three martinis are never enough.' The problem with making resolutions is that you're sober when you make the first one, have had a drink when you make the second one, and so on." [Chicago Sun-Times]
"Because of the rush of human knowledge, because of the digital revolution, I have a voice, and I do not need to scream." [TED Talk, via New York Times]
"I've been around a long time, and young men, if there is one thing I know, it is that the only way to kiss a girl for the first time is to look like you want to and intend to, and move in fast enough to seem eager but slow enough to give her a chance to say 'So anyway...' and look up as if she's trying to remember your name." [Chicago Sun-Times]
"She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading." [Chicago Sun-Times]
"Kindness' covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." [Salon]
"In the years since then I've known a fair share of gay couples who seemed as established and content as other couples, some more some less. In a society that was slowly outgrowing the traditions of patriarchy and matriarchy, they’d made a lateral move into humanarchy. The idea of them being joined in a civil union was a no-brainer." [Chicago Sun-Times]
"Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you." [Philly.com]
"We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds." [Chicago Sun-Times]
"I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization." [NBC]
"I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state." [Salon]
"Many readers have informed me that it is a tragic and dreary business to go into death without faith. I don’t feel that way. 'Faith' is neutral. All depends on what is believed in. I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things." [Salon]