Sir Christopher Lee 1922 – 2015

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Sad news has reached us this week of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, who died in hospital on Sunday, June 7th. He was 93.

Ludwig and I are bereft, of course. However, I don’t wish to trot out another earnest and reverent obituary; right now we’re tripping over enough column inches devoted to Lee’s extraordinary life and career without my regurgitating every detail. As I scribble this down, the inter-web is alight with tributes, news clips and dedications which attest to the far-reaching impact of this colossus of British cinema. As Lee himself noted, he has touched, through his portrayals of innumerable heroes and villains, film fans of every generation alive.

Like many of us, I was in awe of Christopher Lee from the moment I encountered him in his role as Dracula. As a young fan, I relished his every appearance as the undead Count, and my admiration grew as I then became acquainted with his Kharis, his Rasputin and his Duc de Richelieu. By the mid-eighties, Lee had an impressive body of work behind him, so I discovered Scaramanga and Summerisle alongside Fu Manchu and Henry Baskerville, and couldn’t yet understand why the actor had wanted to distance himself from the vampire. To my mind, although Christopher Lee was Dracula, he could be as compelling in other guises. It was rather more that ‘Dracula’ was Christopher Lee; if Stoker’s devil was king of the vampires, then Lee was the king of Draculas. Unwittingly perhaps, he created a monster which required feeding, like a leech. The vampire relies on a vigorous host, and Lee gave Dracula a vitality against which all subsequent portrayals have been measured. For this poor wretch at least, he will remain imperator in perpetuo, King of the Mountain.

 

© RMRenfield and Blackwood Article, 2015

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