Vale Sir Christopher Lee

11 Jun

I freely admit that I wept this morning when I came online to the news that Sir Christopher Lee had passed away.

As a young adult in New Zealand one of the television channels had what they called “The Friday Night Frights” where they screened classic Hammer horror movies.  I think I saw just about all of Sir Christopher Lee’s body of work for Hammer.  But his horror movie work was never my favourite.

There are three roles of his, however, that I will always love.

The first is Lord Summerisle in “The Wicker Man”.  The movie was chopped to hell and back by the editors, but you do get a better sense of the character from the book adaptation.  A strong man who is rapidly losing control of the situation.

The second is Rochefort in the 1973 adaptation of “The Three Musketeers”.  As Cardinal Richelieu’s henchman, Christopher Lee shone.  The movie itself is a star studded vehicle.  Sir Christopher himself, Charlton Heston, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Michael York, Roy Kinnear, Raquel Welsh, and Spike Milligan.

The third one is the one that will always remain close to my heart.  Mycroft Holmes in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.  This Mycroft was a departure from canon in that 1) He was skinny; and 2) He was not a minor functionary of the British Government… he WAS the British Government.

His Mycroft was sophisticated, urbane, witty, sarcastic, and acidic in equal measures.  His role with Sherlock is adversarial and he is always one step ahead of him.

Christopher Lee’s Mycroft captured my imagination in a way the canon version never managed too.  And not just my imagination, his wonderful portrayal was the inspiration for the modern Mycroft as played by Mark Gatiss in the BBC drama “Sherlock”.  I have to admit, I kept hoping Sir Christopher would have a cameo in “Sherlock”.  In my head cannon he was Mycroft and Sherlock’s grandfather.

I read Sir Christopher’s autobiography last year.  He lead a wonderful, exciting, and adventurous life.  I am glad that he chose to share it with us… in both his autobiography and onscreen.

Vale, Sir Christopher, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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