Jun. 12th, 2015

Christopher Lee has not risen from the grave.

And frankly, it's come as something of a disappointment.

That really wasn't how it was supposed to end. I'd first seen him on ITV, Christmas Day 1980, trading bon mots and bullets with Roger Moore. Since then, I'd seen him burn Edward Woodward, plot to take over the galaxy, try to steal the ring of power, swordfight men 20 years his junior to a standstill, tear out throats, take on zombies, raise the dead, be raised from the dead... And for me it all came to an end, choking back tears in a chip shop, having just ordered a side of battered mushrooms. Narrativium, it seems, need not apply.

It's the voice that I always remember. Immortan Joe in Mad Max Fury Road has an entire truck filled with drummers and a guitarist with complementary flame thrower to signal the charge to battle. Sir Lee could have just relied on a quick rendition of Sumer Is Icumen In to psych up his army. Always assuming that he needed an army. Peter Jackson's last Middle-Earth film, Battle of the Five Armies, has some remarkable moments, including one shot involving charging Dwarves, Elves and Goblins that Akira Kurosawa would have been proud of, but the highlight was Saruman taking on the Nazgul in a staff fight.

As Robbie Collins observed in The Telegraph, "The scene was preposterous, but Lee didn’t just emerge from it with his dignity unbroken – his unbreakable dignity was the framework on which the entire sequence was built." A man of 92 who can look credible while thrashing multiple undead demons is someone to be treasured indeed.

And that really leads us back to the lack of risen Sir Lee. A man within whistling distance of his century who could still be a credible action hero - you've got to have just a feeling that death wasn't going to be the end for him. May the earth lie lightly on him - or at least not so heavy that he can't find his way out, should the fancy take him.

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James Brough

August 2017

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