News from the Locarno Festival
 

Sir Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee

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Sir Christopher Lee

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Do you remember the popular rule established by Alfred Hitchcock? "The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture". Now take this formula and bring it along the bends of a filmography which encloses 280 movies and places right there, shoulder to shoulder, many Counts Dracula and Frankenstein monsters (in the Hammer Film Productions horror sagas), the evil Darth Tyranus in Star Wars, the villain opposed to the Agent 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun, the wizard Saruman in the fantasy trilogy of The Lord of the Rings or in the prequel The Hobbit. And this is just a short list to brush up on some of the several roles played by one of the most famous and loved actors in the worldwide film industry like Christopher Lee. His compelling and upsetting performances have not only brought to completion a single movie, but have been able to become part of collective imagination. With his almost 2 meters height, the sharp-cornered beard and the deep timbre voice Mister Lee will receive the Excellence Award Moët & Chandon of this year and will baptize the beginning of the 66th edition of the Festival del film Locarno, the first one orchestrated by the Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.

Christopher Lee, that means the tallest and the most quoted actor in the history of cinema – according to the cliche which has accompanied him in years. But it is really difficult to find a celebrity who could represent better than him the perfect start of a Festival that, this year, is particularly consecrated to encompass the world of cinema in all its various characteristics. The strong will to avoid the limits given by time, geographies and genres  finds in Christopher Lee a standard bearer and a travel companion. In the perturbing eclecticism which has marked his immense filmography, in fact, it is already possible to notice the presence of a cinema which is told in its many differences.

Lee is a true horror icon, but there is more than meets the eye. It is enough to recall the movies shot under the direction of Laurence Olivier (Hamlet, 1948), Billy Wilder (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, 1970) and Steven Spielberg (1941, 1979), not to mention the solid collaboration setted up with Tim Burton's visual obsessions (Sleepy Hollow, 1999; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005) to understand that his jumping from an interpretation to another, actually, is one of the most precious hinges which run along the history of cinema. And from this point of view Locarno 66, which will be ready (as always) to offer assists to the historical past of the Seventh Art and the discovering of the youngest authors, could not find a better testimonial.

To pay homage to Christopher Lee, the Festival del film Locarno will screen a triptych of films with him as main character. Starting from a "pagan" cult-movie like Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973) which will be proposed after the very last digital restoration scheduled for the 40th anniversary of the film. The list of shows is completed by the Gothic adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Hound of the Baskervilles (directed by Terence Fisher in 1959) and the more experimental Umbracle, shot by Pere Portabella in 1970.

 

Lorenzo Buccella

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