The following video of Roger Ebert accepting his honorary degree at the 2004 AFI commencement ceremonies is being published today in honor of Roger's birthday. Below the video, which was originally posted on YouTube by the American Film Institute, is a transcribed excerpt of his speech.—The Editors
"The motion picture is the most important art form ever devised by the human race. That's because it is the art form that creates more empathy than any other. It creates our ability to step out of our own shoes. One of the marks of civilization is to somehow be able to step outside your own mind and your own experience and understand what it is like to be a person of another race, another age, another gender, another nationality, to have different physical capabilities, to have different beliefs. And when I go to the movies, for two hours at least, I have an out-of-body experience. If the movie is working for me, to some degree, I am that person on the screen. I forget my social security number, I don't know where I parked the car. I am having vicariously an experience that happened to someone else, and that makes me a better person, or it can make me a better person. I sincerely believe that to see good films and to see important films is one of the most profoundly civilizing experiences that we can have as people."