A Tribute to Christopher Lee
This year has not been a good one for horror fans. It has been one of mourning. We’ve lost many iconic figures in the past few months, and one that immediately comes to mind for me is Christopher Lee. He was the last horror icon of his generation, and now he is no more. Of course he was more than that, as his acting range was quite extensive. I suppose it’s a consequence of his being British. Either that, or the much more boring explanation: he was theatrically trained, he was intelligent, and he cared about what he did.
Often, it seems, his lineage is referenced whenever anyone speaks of his life. His mother was a contessa, his ancestor the great Charlemagne himself…which doesn’t surprise me. I can kind of see the family resemblance…
When he was a child, he met Rasputin’s assassins. As a teenager, he witnessed the final public execution by guillotine in France. During WW2, he was an intelligence officer. He was also multi-lingual, which doesn’t surprise me. His French was lovely in ‘Dracula’s Son’…and if the movie had been a little better, it might be one of my favorite performances of his.
Of course…he wasn’t only Dracula. After all, he was a Hammer actor. He played the monster in one of their earliest horror flicks, Frankenstein. A movie that truly helped put Hammer on the map to American audiences. He also played the mummy. Having seen both movies, I can say he did quite a lot with very silent characters…considering the power of Mr. Lee’s voice, this is only a testament to his acting skills. His speech may have been beautiful, rich, and dark…but he didn’t need it to steal the scene. Mr. Lee’s mere presence was quite enough.
The man worked until he died, and I can honestly say every role I ever witness of his…was amazing. He was a singer, an actor, a soldier, likely a spy, a scholar, and ultimately a man who lived his life well. Even if he may have been 93 when he passed, I was shocked. I had begun to believe he would live forever. But, in his own words: ‘the thing I have always tried to do is surprise people, to present them with something they didn’t expect.’
Rest well, Mr. Lee. You’ve earned it. In light of your passing, I think I’ll listen to your reading of ‘The Raven’…once more…