Roger Ebert’s journey from the larger half of At the Movies with Siskel & Ebert to beloved and challenging chronicler of the very process of dying–still through the medium of film criticism–is one of the more unlikely late-in-life transitions of the modern age. It’s also something that was captured by the documentarians behind Magnolia Pictures’ forthcoming Life Itself, which tells Ebert’s story from the early years to his final days.
The trailer for the film–helmed by Hoop Dreams director Steve James–manages to highlight both the peaks and valleys of Ebert’s early career (peak: At the Movies; valley: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which Ebert wrote), before shifting gears to capture his battle with cancer, which Ebert fought as heroically as anyone can be expected to. His boldness and fearlessness, and continued creativity, in that fight (witness Ebert’s willingness to be depicted, sans-jaw, on camera) is remarked upon in the trailer by filmmakers from Martin Scorsese to Werner Herzog, but it’s Ebert himself–speaking, in the end, through a computer voice–who’s the most exciting face to see in the trailer. For a man who lived, breathed, and eventually died at the movies, it’s only fitting to see that he’ll remain immortal in that medium, as well.