1922 – 2015
I don’t usually go in for the memorial articles, but today’s death of the great and mighty Sir Christopher Lee hit me surprisingly hard. He had been a mainstay for GENERATIONS of filmgoers, and a standout in everything from a James Bond movie to Star Wars to The Lord Of The Rings. And while many will always remember him as Dracula, I first saw Mr. Lee in a small fantasy film called Mio In The Land Of Faraway.
The movie’s not much to talk about, being a trite and sometimes terrible little flick about a boy escaping to a fantasy land, but aside from the fact it can boast being Christian Bale’s first feature film it also has a rather enjoyable performance from Christopher Lee as the primary antagonist. Lee takes what is basically nothing on the page (a sword and sorcery-style Darth Vader type at best) and wrings out all the evil he can muster, while bringing in a sense of tragedy. In a movie with Timothy Bottoms as the great king of a far away land, invisibility cloaks, and bread that can satisfy all hunger, only Christopher Lee really seems to give a damn. He sold me on the whole stupid movie when I was a kid. I love him for this.
Lee also serves a very prominent role in my favorite horror film of all time, The Wicker Man. I know it’s a bit cliché to use such terms, but Lee was all these things: iconic, commanding, spellbinding, entrancing, charismatic, and powerful. His is a presence that will be greatly missed, but fortunately his work will live on forever. I leave you with the following, a rendition of Paul Anka ‘s My Way, performed by Christopher Lee himself in a metal band he joined when he was only 84 years old: