Powerful Empathy Machine

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Roger Ebert's remarks when he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday, June 23, 2005:

When I started, I was asked, how long do you think you can remain a film critic? I said I should be able to hold out about five years. Now I’ve been film critic for 38 years and I think it's a worthy way to spend a lifetime, writing about films. They're not only entertainment. When they are entertainment that's not a bad thing, but sometimes they're more than entertainment.

We are born into a box of space and time. We are who and when and what we are and we're going to be that person until we die. But if we remain only that person, we will never grow and we will never change and things will never get better.

Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else's life for a while. I can walk in somebody else's shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.

This is a liberalizing influence on me. It gives me a broader mind. It helps me to join my family of men and women on this planet. It helps me to identify with them, so I'm not just stuck being myself, day after day.

The great movies enlarge us, they civilize us, they make us more decent people.

That's what I've tried to support and that's what a great many of the people in this audiences have tried to support especially the many filmmakers who are here, the film artists who are here, the filmgoers who are here. It makes a difference, and what's why we do it and that's why this is wonderful day for me.

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