Monday, 15 June 2015

Tribute + Christopher Lee + Saruman + Dracula

Sir Christopher Lee: I want to die with my boots on. 
Welcome to another Painting Table Saturday... well, almost. Just as I was beginning to make headway on the half-painted miniatures pile, I heard the news. Christopher Lee has passed away, may he rest in peace. A remarkable man deserving of a fitting tribute, even if it's a humble one from a painter and gamer from the Land of the Long White Cloud (Aotearoa). So I put paint to brush and painted a couple of miniatures that have been sitting in the unpainted figures box.

Firstly, Saruman the White, played by Christopher Lee in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. This miniature is part of the Games Workshop line, released with The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game which was based on the movies directed by Peter Jackson, and the books written by J. R. R. Tolkien. By his own account, Lee was stunned when he first read the books in the early 1950's and would continue to read them again at least once a year from then on. Coincidentally, Lee was the only cast member to have met Tolkien and even had the author's blessing to play Gandalf if there ever were a movie... of course Gandalf was a role he didn't get to play. Although given Lee's experience as an actor, I find it somewhat fitting that the wizard Gandalf was Saruman's junior. Noble and most wise of all wizards, Saruman ultimately (and unfortunately) fell under the power of Sauron.

Saruman the White.

On close inspection of the above photos, I decided that Saruman needed more attention to his mouth. The digital camera on my phone often picks up detail that my naked eye misses! So, here are a couple of photos taken the following day:

Saruman the White (Reprise).

Secondly, Dracula, played by Christopher Lee in many, many, many Hammer films. Although Lee's first film for Hammer was The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), playing Frankenstein's monster (with co-star Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein), it was the next film that changed his life forever. Dracula (1958), stared Christopher Lee as the Transylvanian blood-sucking Count and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Lee and Cushing became close friends and ultimately appeared together in over twenty films together. Peter Cushing was a wargamer, and enjoyed the hobby throughout his life, painting miniatures and playing Little Wars (the fantastic game written by H. G. Wells in 1913). The miniature I have painted depicting Dracula is from the (German?) Metal Magic fantasy line. I bought it back in the early 90's.


For those regular readers of this blog, you may notice that above I'm using the photography against a blue sky with mobile phone technique

Here are the WIP photos:

Cleaned and ready for painting.

Putty time! Fixing a cloak on a White Dwarf with the excess.

Undercoated in White.

Ivory and Ebony.

Here are some (of the many) of Christopher Lee's famous acting roles:

The Man with the Golden Gun.

Yes, it has to be Bond, James Bond.
Lee played a Bond villain, Francisco Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun. He was a step-cousin of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels. 

The Face of Fu Manchu (1965)
Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man.

Yes... that is a Wicker Man!

Award winning Heavy Metal singer! And a lot of opera.

The Carandinis, Lee's maternal ancestors, were given the right to bear the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

Lord Dooku in Star Wars.

Saruman in Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit).

A masterful actor, Sir Christopher Lee had this to say about his craft. "I think acting is a mixture of instinct, imagination and inventiveness. All you can learn as an actor is basic technique."

Besides his acting and singing career, Sir Christopher Lee lived a most extraordinary life. You can read more about him here and here. Truth as they say, is often stranger than fiction. Probably the best advice I ever heard him give, was this about the Occult:

“I certainly haven’t been involved and I warn all of you - never, never, never – you will not only lose your mind you’ll lose your soul.”
A fitting end to this blog post. Rest in peace, Sir Christopher Lee.

God bless you and enjoy the rest of your week.

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