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Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert Hardcover – September 15, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ebert, probably the most prolific film critic of all time, here distills his massive life's work into a single volume. After a nostalgic introduction recounting his initial forays into criticism, he presents reviews of the best films of each of the past 38 years, from Bonnie and Clyde to Crash, and a selection of foreign films, documentaries, and "overlooked and underrated" works. More compelling are longer "think pieces" on such topics as colorization, the movie-ratings system, digital projection, and Star Wars' deleterious effect on Hollywood. Those, and a selection of star profiles and interviews, allow him to share his expertise and voice his passion in a fashion that daily reviewing seldom permits. The volume's final selection, a 2004 piece about the healing effect of viewing movies--and of writing about them--during his convalescence from cancer treatment, may well serve as his valedictory. As film criticism becomes more marginalized, Ebert may come to be seen as the last of a kind--the critic who actually has the power to influence a national audience. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“Roger Ebert loves movies more, and better, than almost any critic I’ve ever met. He also has a keen understanding of the way they work, which you will find out as you make your way through this irreplaceable collection of reviews, reminiscences, and critiques. There’s a lifetime of thought and appreciation between these pages—a life, really—and you simply can’t say that about most other collections of film criticism.”
(Martin Scorsese 2006-06-01)

“Roger Ebert understands how to pop the hood of a movie and tell us how it runs, while still enjoying the ride with his box of popcorn or, in some cases, a bottle of aspirin. Awake in the Dark captures both those sides of Ebert and shows him to be a serious friend of film, someone who loves the movies as much as he understands them.”

(Steven Spielberg 2006-06-01)

“Roger Ebert is the grand poobah of them all.”
(Robert Altman 2006-06-01)

“Roger Ebert has become a member of our households, our families. He is the one who tells us all about the movies. And, as his passion for the cinema is so deep, and his knowledge so profound, he is the one we can always trust.”
(Werner Herzog 2006-06-01)

“This is a fittingly grand and sweeping collection of Roger Ebert’s writing on film. Ebert is the most widely read and most trusted film writer in America because he is still, in some way, an amateur viewer—he goes to the movies as a pilgrim, ready to be amazed, wanting to be enlightened. He believes in the power of the medium, and has not, after all these decades, become the least bit calloused to it. And no one is more eloquent in expressing why and how the best movies work, and why they’re so incredibly necessary.”
(Dave Eggers 2006-06-01)

"To love the movies, [Ebert] tells us, 'does not mean to sit mindlessly and blissfully before the screen. . . . The task of every movie is to try to change how you feel and think during its running time,' and the task of the viewer is to participate in the process. He is moral but not moralistic, preferring stories of flawed people who struggle to do the right thing and fail over simplistic heroes facing simplified choices."
(Tara Ison Los Angeles Times)

“[Ebert's] writing is top-notch. In Awake in the Dark, Ebert has produced his most personal collection of reviews, essays, and interviews, providing insights into the man as much as the movies he loves. . . . This volume contains some of Ebert's most exciting writing.”

(Gary Kramer Filmbill)

"Always alert to trends and defending film as an art form. Ebert never fails to connect with his readers."
(Library Journal)

"[This] excellent new compendium . . . serves as a fine way to remind us that Ebert is, first and foremost, a gifted writer. A survey of his 40 years in the business of loving and explaining movies, it's essential reading for anyone who likes film."
(Nik Dirga Blogcritics)

"As film criticism becomes more marginalized, Ebert may come to be seen as the last of a kind—the critic who actually has the power to influence a national audience."
(Gordon Flagg Booklist 2006-09-01)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1St Edition edition (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226182002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226182001
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roger Ebert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic from the Chicago Sun-Times. His reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and Canada. The American Film Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have awarded him honorary degrees and the Online Film Critics Society named his Web site ( the best online movie review site

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Robinson on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When you think of Roger Ebert you think of "movie critic". However, this book introduces us to the depth of this man's love of the cinema and his ability to understand it. The book covers forty years of reviews, essays and interviews. For the film lover it will be an exciting journey back to the darken theaters of yesterday, and to the present blockbusters. His engaging style of interviewing is tops. A great reference book..... highly recommended!
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Chris Swanson VINE VOICE on July 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You know, there's a very good reason Roger Ebert won a Pulitzer. The man is an amazing writer. If you enjoy the pure pleasure of reading, and have a passion for the movies, you would be hard-pressed to find a better book than this to read.

The book is mostly a collection of writings by Ebert over the last several decades. There's some interviews with famous film folk, a collection of essays on subjects such as colorization, digital vs film, the need for a viable "adults only" rating, a few movie reviews, a discussion on the past, present and future of film review, and, most importantly, a serious love of the movies that comes through on every page.

I confess I am somewhat biased. Until I began reading Roger Ebert's fine website, I'd never heard of films such as M - Criterion Collection (Special Edition), Nosferatu, The Third Man - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition), or The Grapes of Wrath (I knew about the novel, of course). I'd also never had any real interst in, or appreciation for, movies such as Dark City (New Line Platinum Series), "The Bride of Frankenstein",
...Read more ›
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By David W. Sugarman on April 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Roger Ebert loves movies, and he is a wonderful writer. He can reveal the essence of a movie with a poet;s touch, and he can point out some elements of the great mystery that draws us to an actor we might love, but not know why (thinking of his piece on Tom Hanks).

In one of the last reviewed movies in the book, "Crash" his writing helped me understand why a movie that seemed to rely so much on the most unlikely of fates, really deserved to be seen as a great movie. In the review of "Million Dollar Baby" which precedes "Crash", he shines a light on the heart of a movie that touched my heart, and does so with such simple and elegant precision.

It is easy to think of Mr. Ebert giving a thumbs up sign, doing battle with one of his guest hosts, or trying to find some way to indicate how much better than that a movie might be by using a series of adjectives or modifiers. Sometimes this has seemed silly, and inaccurate. For my wife and I, an unmodified "Two thumbs up" these days is as likely to reveal a mild stinker as something worthwhile and entertaining. Yet, I appreciate that he even writes an essay about another writer who decries such kinds of "criticisms and rating systems", doing so elegantly and non-defensively.

Yet when you read these reviews and interviews and let yourself be touched by them you can feel the author's joy and appreciation of the movies as well as his great understanding of this art form. That he is able to do this with a complete lack of pretense allowed me to fully appreciate the stand he has carved for himself as falling between the critic's movie critic and the people's movie critic.

If this were the last major work that Mr. Ebert creates in his life, he has performed a great service to those of us fortunate to pick this book up and read it. Thank you Roger Ebert. Two Thumbs pointing to the stars!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Penelope De Paoli on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only does Ebert thoughtfully review movies, he writes so well that each essay is a pleasure to read whether we saw or will see the movie or not. These are reviews of his "best" movies for almost thirty years, as well as an explanation of how he came to be exclusively a movie reviewer. Funny, literate, and informative.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Roger Ebert has been my favorite film reviewer for years not just because I often agree with his tastes in movies but because of his witty readable writing style. AWAKE IN THE DARK contains examples of his best writing from 1967 - 2005. The book is divided into seven parts. The first part is entitled interviews and profiles and features nine different articles on prominent movie business personalities. Part Two is entitled "The Best" and includes his reviews of his movie of the year picks from 1967 - 2005. Interestingly Ebert says that these were just his initial picks and some he would now change after the passage of time. Part three features an article each on fifteen foreign films. Part four focuses on ten well known documentaries including the four "Up" films. Ebert chooses ten "overlooked and underrated" movies to discuss in part five. Part six is entitled "Essays and Think Pieces" and in the included pieces Ebert speaks out against film colorization, memorializes Pauline Kael plus eight additional topics. And he concludes with some thoughtful musings on film criticism. The appendix includes lists of Ebert's top ten films from '67 - '05. The book also has a thorough index. AWAKE IN THE DARK is a must for Ebert fans or anyone who wants to learn more about film criticism. Ebert is a great teacher as he is very knowledgeable about film and his enthusiasm is infectious.
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