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Andrew Sarris, 1928 - 2012

One of American film criticism's most important figures has passed away.

"Andrew Sarris, one of the nation’s most influential film critics and a champion of auteur theory, which holds that a director’s voice is central to great filmmaking, died on Wednesday morning in Manhattan. He was 83." —The New York Times

 

I only just heard about this a couple of minutes ago. It’s a real blow.
Although it isn’t unexpected, this is one of the worst possible losses to film criticism in America and in the world. At least there is Molly to carry on his legacy.
RIP Andrew. You were the foundation of this film fan’s cinematic structure. Without you I would not have understood anything about movies beyond thumbs up or down. From you I learned that sometimes a film can be art, philosophy and humanity all rolled into one… and sometimes a movie is just a movie. Thank you sir.
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Andrew Sarris was one of the few critics who’s opinion mattered to me, who’s aesthetic sense comes closest to my own wherever else we may disagree politically, metaphysically or on any given picture. The American Cinema is something of a film bible for me, something I constantly reference and reread and a small section of my bookshelf is dedicated to used library editions of his old books- Confessions of a Cultist, Politics and Cinema, The Films of Josef Von Sternberg… I’m something of a Sarris fanboy, to be frank, and can’t help but feel a sense of loss even knowing he lived a long and good life. I hope at least that there might be a resurgence of interest in his work, something to offset the influence of certain other old guard critics.
I’ve been thinking think a lot about Sarris these past two days. He was a professor of mine in college, and I considered him something of a mentor, although I am sure that many others did as well. I cannot begin to imagine what my outlook or career would be without all of his classes and books and movie reviews. Yesterday, I went back to some of his books. I thought I would share this elegiac passage from his essay on Cary Grant: “The NBC crew that came to record my reaction to Grant’s death asked me if I had ever known the man. I said no very quickly. But having seen sixty-nine of his seventy-two movies, and having witnessed his marvelously gracious performances at several public occasions, can I be said to have “known” him less intimately than I would have if I had peppered him with journalistic queries at some marathon interview or other? Very probably, I “knew” much the best part of him, a part that I suspect he would have wanted me to know if he had any inkling of how much I respected and admired all that he was, all that he had achieved, and all that he had overcome." RIP Andrew

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