Film ‘A Machine That Generates Empathy’: Roger Ebert Gets His Own Documentary

Steve James’ documentary Life Itself looks at the life of critic Roger Ebert, both before and after the profound physical changes that led to his rebirth online.

There’s a moment in the documentary in which we hear one of Ebert’s great descriptions of film as “a machine that generates empathy.”

Presumably, from Life Itself, he would have hoped for something that might generate empathy – not pity and not hushed admiration, but empathy.

“Movies are a machine that generates empathy.”   
Roger Ebert
“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.”    
Roger Ebert
“Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.” 
Roger Ebert, 2002

“The quality that’s most needed in the world today is empathy…
to walk a little while in their shoes”
– Roger Ebert