He was the badass of his day…
Until I became enthralled by the world of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I was not aware of Sir Christopher Lee.
I had seen him in Sleepy Hollow, but I would not know him from that, if I had been quizzed on the man and the parts he’d played.
The first time I heard Lee’s signature gruff, deep tone, I was a fan. His diction was brilliant. He seemed like a man who meant business.
He seemed to be born to play that role. I was thinking and just saying to a friend that it is bazar how to past generations he will always be more well-known as Dracula, but to me he is and always will be Sauroman.
I did not get to meet him or get to know him, like cast members of LOTR, but I can tell that he is one of those rare humans who are larger than life. His brilliance is obvious. His cultured and knowledgeable mind and his sharp wit were most clear in interviews.
I was born more than a decade after Professor Tolkien’s death. Since falling in love with Middle-earth, Sir Christopher Lee is Professor Tolkien to me. He embodied everything I could imagine Tolkien was. He is a figure of legend, taking on the roles he did over his lifetime.
His monster roles will live on in all their gruesome glory.
He seemed to have a knack for portraying villains.
He played an evil Bond character.
Other than Yoda, his character was the only good thing about the Star Wars films really.
He seemed proud to have worked with Tim Burton in films like Alice In Wonderland and The Hobbit with Peter Jackson.
He had the pronunciation down. He could speak many languages. He liked to sing (opera, musicals, heavy metal) and his singing voice was as powerful and great as his knowledge of Tolkien’s stories.
On discovering LOTR, I purchased the extended edition DVD’s and not only did I lap up the movies, over and over, I also became engrossed in all the extra bonus features included.
One of the interviews with Peter Jackson he spoke to Lee about the sound one might make when shot. Jackson was just doing his job, giving direction as to how he saw the scene. It was then that Lee spoke up and informed his director of the proper sound a man makes when hit. Apparently, it’s an intake of breath. Chilling stuff:
“I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened by it. Having seen the worst human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we never would have won.”
I wonder, as I do about my own grandparents, just what it was like for Lee during his duty in World War II and I heard he wasn’t talking about it.
I grew to love the songs at the end of all three LOTR films. The final one, by Annie Lennox:
I must have played this one over and over on repeat, to the point of driving my sister/roommate to the brink, forcing her to yell at me to turn the damn thing off.
I remember the way Gandalf spoke about the west.
A metaphor for death, Sauroman did not speak the lines, but now I think of them as I contemplate where Lee is now.
Is he somewhere with Professor Tolkien, discussing the world during and since their deaths? What are they discussing, if they could be friends somewhere beyond my understanding?
I have been thinking a lot lately about those who are no longer here, my grandparents mostly, but since I heard Lee had passed I began to wonder all the more.
I have always had a healthy fear of the sea and the idea of what it might be like when one dies is always lingering in the back of my mind, but the way in which the concept of death is explained by J. R. R. Tolkien, in Lord of the Rings, seems to connect death to a calm sea and a distant shore beyond. This most peaceful image of a grey mist, rolling back to reveal a clear glass that is sky and green shores, this has brought great peace to my heart.
Lee died at age ninety-three. He is survived by his wife of many years and their daughter.
Life is meant to be lived and Sir Christopher Lee lived it better than anyone I can think of.
Well played sir (Badass) Lee.