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Life Itself: A Tribute to Roger Ebert's Cinematic Legacy

Life Itself offers a profound exploration into the life and legacy of legendary film critic, Roger Ebert.

Keywords: Roger Ebert, film criticism, resilience, love for cinema, Steve James, Life Itself. Three-Word Summary: Influential, Resilient, Passionate


Life Itself, directed by Steve James and released in 2014, is a compelling documentary that unpacks the life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert. In a world where everyone's a critic, Ebert's profound influence transcends generations, affirming his relevance in today's context.


The documentary portrays Ebert's journey through his early days as a journalist to his rise as one of the most revered film critics. It also shines a light on his personal life, his battle with cancer, and his unyielding love for cinema.

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James adopts an observational approach in Life Itself, allowing events to unfold naturally. The documentary is well-researched, diving deep into Ebert's life and career, while maintaining a captivating presentation style.

Historical and Factual Context


Roger Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975. He co-hosted a long-running film review television show with Gene Siskel, making them household names and influential figures in film criticism.

Key themes in the film

  • The Power of Criticism: Ebert's career showcases the influence critics can have in shaping public opinion.
  • Resilience in the Face of Adversity: Ebert's battle with cancer portrays his strength and determination.
  • Love for Cinema: Ebert's passion for film underpins his career and personal life.

Film Comparisons

Unlike other documentaries on iWonder, Life Itself focuses on the power of film criticism, providing a unique perspective on its influence and legacy.

Noteworthy Moments

Ebert's final days spent in the hospital were particularly enlightening, demonstrating his resilience and undying love for cinema.


Life Itself was well-received by audiences and critics alike. The Guardian praised it as an "emotional celebration of its subject."


Life Itself is a must-watch for anyone with a love for cinema or an interest in the power of criticism. It is particularly relevant for budding film critics and journalists.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.8
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
  • Metacritic score: 87
  • Film festival awards: 25 wins & 33 nominations



  • Roger Ebert: Renowned film critic and social commentator.
  • Gene Siskel: Co-host of Ebert's long-running television show.



  • Chicago: Ebert's home city and the location of his long-standing career.

Key questions raised by the film:

  • How did Ebert's criticism shape public opinion about cinema?
  • How does Ebert's resilience in the face of adversity inspire us?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "The Great Gatsby" because of its exploration of a complex character and his influence.
  2. A famous song, it would be Frank Sinatra's "My Way" due to Ebert's unique approach to his career.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be Van Gogh's "Starry Night" for its depth and emotion.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Meryl Streep for her versatility and impact.
  5. A colour, it would be gold, symbolizing Ebert's prestige in the film industry.
  6. A music style, it would be jazz for its improvisational nature, mirroring Ebert's unique style of criticism.