Monday, 15 June 2015

RIP Christopher Lee

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Thursday turned out to be a bit of a downer, with the news that Sir Christopher Lee had passed away in hospital of heart failure aged 93. Numerous figures in the acting world have already taken time to pay tribute to a man who was a titan of cinema, and now it falls to me to feebly attempt the same.

New Line Cinema
It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was evaluating Lee's career for WhatCulture!, having written an article on his highs and lows back in December 2013. Truly there is no proper way to summarise Lee's career without overlooking so many of the unusual, weird or just plain bizarre routes he travelled between Hammer and Saruman. Even in compiling my list, I had to leave out so many great performances: Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Compte de Rochefort in The Three Musketeers, Nicholas in The Devil Rides Out - the list goes on and on.
the wicker man
What my list also failed to convey was some of the interesting aspects of Lee's life away from the silver screen. He was the only member of The Lord of the Rings cast to have personally met J. R. R. Tolkien, and read the novel once a year every year from their publication in the 1950s. He was a step-cousin of James Bond creator Ian Fleming and a distant relative of American Civil War general Robert E. Lee. While serving in the RAF during World War II, he almost died at the Battle of Monte Cassino when he tripped over a live bomb. And he was involved in the British secret service, bringing his knowledge to his most iconic parts - like his death scene in The Return of the King:
Lee was quite simply a biographer's dream, and for film fans he remains an icon, whether of old-school British horror or Tim Burton's later works. If you want to pay tribute to him, I would recommend any of the films I cited in my WhatCulture! article; Dracula and The Lord of the Rings are the obvious choices, but there is also never a bad time to watch The Wicker Man. If you're feeling very adventurous, you could even track down his performance in the title role in Jinnah, which Lee considered his finest performance of all. However you choose to remember him, he will be sorely missed. RIP
BBC
Daniel

P. S. I'm aware that Ron Moody's death was also announced on Thursday. I hope to do a separate piece devoted to his week later this week - watch this space.

2 comments:

Such a great loss, he's been my favourite actor since I can remember so I was gutted to hear of his passing but he did live a great life.

I think by Grandpa fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino as well.

Thanks Myerla. A great loss indeed.

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