In a five-decade career spanning newspapers, TV and the internet, Ebert mastered every medium he turned his hand to with reviews of wit, intelligence and eloquence. In short, he was the master where most other film critics were mere apprentices.
Digital Spy takes a look at 10 great Ebert reviews below.
"Years and years from now, when Coppola's budget and his problems have long been forgotten, Apocalypse will still stand, I think, as a grand and grave and insanely inspired gesture of filmmaking - of moments that are operatic in their style and scope, and of other moments so silent we can almost hear the director thinking to himself."
The Brown Bunny
(Ebert revisits Vincent Gallo's re-cut film after calling it the worst in the Cannes Film Festival's history)
"Imagine, I wrote, a film so unendurably boring that when the hero changes into a clean shirt, there is applause. The panel of critics convened by Screen International, the British trade paper, gave the movie the lowest rating in the history of their annual voting.
"But then a funny thing happened. Gallo went back into the editing room and cut 26 minutes of his 118-minute film, or almost a fourth of the running time. And in the process he transformed it. The film's form and purpose now emerge from the miasma of the original cut, and are quietly, sadly, effective. It is said that editing is the soul of the cinema; in the case of The Brown Bunny, it is its salvation."
Synecdoche, New York
"I think you have to see Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York twice. I watched it the first time and knew it was a great film and that I had not mastered it. The second time because I needed to. The third time because I will want to. It will open to confused audiences and live indefinitely."
2001: A Space Odyssey
"Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not about a goal but about a quest, a need.
"It does not hook its effects on specific plot points, nor does it ask us to identify with Dave Bowman or any other character. It says to us: We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence."
"Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave, waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame."
"If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination."
The Human Centipede
"I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."
The Shawshank Redemption
"The Shawshank Redemption is not a depressing story, although I may have made it sound that way. There is a lot of life and humour in it, and warmth in the friendship that builds up between Andy and Red. There is even excitement and suspense, although not when we expect it. But mostly the film is an allegory about holding onto a sense of personal worth, despite everything. If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption."
"To see Star Wars again after 20 years is to revisit a place in the mind. George Lucas's space epic has colonised our imaginations, and it is hard to stand back and see it simply as a motion picture, because it has so completely become part of our memories. It's as goofy as a children's tale, as shallow as an old Saturday afternoon serial, as corny as Kansas in August - and a masterpiece. Those who analyse its philosophy do so, I imagine, with a smile in their minds. May the Force be with them."
Roger Ebert's reviews can be read at rogerebert.com