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Thread: Zulu (1964)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Why I can't get enough of Zulu



    As part of its My Favourite Films season, the Curzon Soho cinema in London is offering well-known names the chance to introduce a screening of a movie they love. This Sunday, singer-songwriter Richard Hawley introduces the 1964 film Zulu



    Friday August 4, 2006

    The Guardian



    Zulu has become one of my favourites over the years, not only for the stunning cinematography (Stephen Dade), directing (Cy Endfield), screenplay (John Prebble, Cy Endfield), acting the cast, including Michael Caine (below), is awesome and soundtrack (John Barry) but for the warning it gives us about the dangers of colonialism. The world is facing major problems stemming in part from the actions of the modern colonialists namely America, Britain and their allies in Iraq while the rest of the world is dragged along against their will. I see a strong parallel between the events surrounding Endfield's film (shot in 1964) and current world events.



    In January 1879, the British army suffered one of its worst defeats when Zulu forces massacred 1,500 troops at Isandlhwana. In the wake of the main battle, a Zulu force numbering in excess of 4,000 warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply-dump guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen. The film concentrates on the bloody 12-hour battle for Rorke's Drift, which resulted in an unprecedented haul of 11 Victoria Crosses. While taking some liberties with history, Zulu follows the facts fairly closely, and precisely matches the identities of the VC winners. Each man has a different military background and they are immediately in conflict about preparation for the attack. They must somehow find a way to survive with no help in sight. Zulu is one of the great achievements in modern cinema, and blows away the awful blockbusters that are made today by modern (mainly American) film producers. It is a lesson in how to make a great film, and how not to be too arrogant in our decisions to go to war with "lesser" nations. Will we be as lucky as the men who fought at Rorke's Drift? Time will tell.

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    While taking some liberties with history, Zulu follows the facts fairly closely, and precisely matches the identities of the VC winners. Each man has a different military background and they are immediately in conflict about preparation for the attack.
    Some liberties with history? That's a great understatement :)



    There was really no conflict between Chard & Bromhead, that was all invented for the film.



    But the biggest liberty (apart from all the other liberties) was with Henry Hook, portraying him as a malingerer and a barrack room lawyer. In fact he was teetotal, a family man and a professional soldier who had served for some time before, and after, the action at Rorke's Drift.



    But it's still a cracking film



    Steve

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    Yes, as with many historical movies the truth is changed for dramatic effect. For instance, the Zulus did not have guns at the battle. There are some good books about the Zulu Wars."They Fought Like Lions" is a good read.

  4. #4
    Rennie
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    Yes, as with many historical movies the truth is changed for dramatic effect. For instance, the Zulus did not have guns at the battle. There are some good books about the Zulu Wars."They Fought Like Lions" is a good read.


    ..............and the Zulis did not depart because of their respect for the British troop's heroism, but because reinforcements were nearing Roukes Drift.



    Still a great film though.

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    ....there were not as many Welsh there as suggested either.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    ....there were not as many Welsh there as suggested either.
    You mean to tell me that they didn't really sing a made up verse of Men of Harlech that includes lines about "spear points gleaming" that isn't in any other version. And there I was thinking that those Welsh soldiers were so clever to make up an appropriate verse like that on the spot



    Steve

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    Zulu was a great film for entertainment, but it was WAY off the mark in terms of historical accuracy.



    To start off with, there was an Otto Wit (Jack Hawkins character) but he had fled Natal before the war broke out. In the film there was no way he had time to get to Rorke's Drift after hearing of Ishandlwahna in the time allowed.



    But my biggest gripe was there was no attempt at an explanation of the war. The film gave the impression the British were the defenders, not the aggressors they were. The brave Redcoat against the savage aggressors. Great cinema, but for reality, too many imperialist images and too little attention to the truth.

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    Hi

    Despite a great deal of shall we say poetic liscence being used on the script I do think it is one of those classic Sunday afternoon movies. However rather than going to sleep on the sofa it is one that definately keeps me awake. Love the role Michael Caine takes on brilliant acting.

    Wayne

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    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    I went to see Zulu when it was first released at the cinema. It had a huge impact upon me. It was possibly the first time I had seen women's breasts.... moving.



    Contrary to much revisionist thinking in the years since, I was left with no sense of the White Man's Dominance. The Zulu warriors were awesome to a schoolboy who never saw black people in real life, and on the odd occasion when he did see them, on TV or in films, they were usually servants.... or singers and dancers. Though historically inaccurate, the fact that the Zulu's left the field of battle from 'respect for the Redcoats' gave them a cachet of intellect that was often denied the 'Negro' of the Sixties...........



    Having dealt with the Race question to my own satisfaction; it stands as the most brilliantly made battle movie of all time, bar none. The brave madness of war has never been better filmed. The behaviour of all the actors exemplified that there were no illusions about the insanity of it all. On the other hand, it takes a redundant kind of bravery to stand against 4,000 men, or fling your spear against a Lee-Enfield rifle. It may be redundant but it demands human respect.



    I only recently realised that Stanley Baker was the driving force behind this memorial to his Welsh forebears. Therefore I was quite disappointed to read a DVD sleeve which raved about 'Zulu' being Michael Caine's breakthrough role..... and then briefly mentioned that it also 'featured' Stanley Baker.....

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    I only recently realised that Stanley Baker was the driving force behind this memorial to his Welsh forebears. Therefore I was quite disappointed to read a DVD sleeve which raved about 'Zulu' being Michael Caine's breakthrough role..... and then briefly mentioned that it also 'featured' Stanley Baker.....
    I have the special edition relase of Zulu which has those same sleeve notes. I'm saddened to see that Stanley Baker only gets a token mention.



    Whilst I think Michael Caine played a fantastic role, considering that the film was early in his career, I have to agree that Baker should have had due recognition. For me he will always be the star in this one.



    I'd hoped to see Zulu a few months back when it was screened at a local arthouse cinema, unfortunately for me it was screened on a Saturday afternoon when I was obliged to attend a work function! Drat - just my luck!!

  11. #11
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    Yes, as with many historical movies the truth is changed for dramatic effect. For instance, the Zulus did not have guns at the battle. There are some good books about the Zulu Wars."They Fought Like Lions" is a good read.
    Stephen, the Zulus did have some guns ar Rorkes Drift, although not the Martini Henry rifles shown in the film. They were old muzzle loaders sold to the Zulu by traders and probably weren't in very good condition. Additionally, the Zulus don't seem to have been very good shots although they did inflict casualties. The following is from the report made by Surgeon Major Reynolds VC after the battle which you may find interesting.



    We found ourselves quickly surrounded by the enemy with their strong force holding the garden and shrubbery. From all sides but especially the latter places, they poured on us a continuous fire, to which our men replied as quickly as they could reload their rifles.

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    i totaly agree this is sir staley bakers film,he was the driving force behind it..i have copy of a documenrty filmed in 1996,20 years after the death of stanley...michael caine says he was nearly dumped from the film for getting things wrong..but stanley baker insisted he stayed..and has they say the rest is history..:

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    To my mind, Zulu is the finest war movie ever made. For those who love it, I can thoroughly recommend Sheldon Hall's book 'Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It - The Making of the Epic Movie'. One of the most thoroughly researched and eminently readable books ona single film that I have ever read.



    www.tomahawkmedia.co.uk

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    To my mind, Zulu is the finest war movie ever made. For those who love it, I can thoroughly recommend Sheldon Hall's book 'Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It - The Making of the Epic Movie'. One of the most thoroughly researched and eminently readable books ona single film that I have ever read.



    Welcome to Tomahawk Media Enterprises
    Agreed, it's a brilliant book, and one of the most interesting parts is discussing ideas for the film that never made it into the finished film, such as a love interest between Chard and Margeretta Witt! I think we'#re all sorry that never made it.

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    The test for me has always been whether I'd watch it again. For me, one of those that foots the bill is "Zulu"(1964). I was riveted the first time I saw it, and whenever it plays I try to catch it. It's companion piece "Zulu Dawn"(1979), an American piece, I've watched once, but I liked it as well. I believe Zulu was Michael Caine's first movie.



    Bridge Over the River Kwai(1957) is another film that comes to mind for me.

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    Didn't I read somewhere that Chief Butaliezi (Have I spelt that correctly...proably not, sorry!) the King of the the Zulus starred in it..........?

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    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Didn't I read somewhere that Chief Butaliezi (Have I spelt that correctly...proably not, sorry!) the King of the the Zulus starred in it..........?
    He's in the credits at the end.

    buthelezi


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    I've not seen it yet!



    but will check it out!



    Michael caine is an exceptional actor!

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    i totaly agree this is sir staley bakers film,he was the driving force behind it..i have copy of a documenrty filmed in 1996,20 years after the death of stanley...michael caine says he was nearly dumped from the film for getting things wrong..but stanley baker insisted he stayed..and has they say the rest is history..:
    This is a silly point I know but until I saw the various interviews in the Special Edition, was what a cheerful bloke Stanley Baker was. In most of his movies his characters tends to b e a bit dour and have a bit of an attitude, but from all accounts he was a jovial, positive chap who was always up for a laugh.

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    This is a silly point I know but until I saw the various interviews in the Special Edition, was what a cheerful bloke Stanley Baker was. In most of his movies his characters tends to b e a bit dour and have a bit of an attitude, but from all accounts he was a jovial, positive chap who was always up for a laugh.


    That's interesting merryowen; I too always had the impression of SB as being a bit serious and humourless - just shows, he was a good actor. I saw a snippet of a film with Peter Finch in the other day and I must say that I miss him as an actor.Sadly taken before his time.



    By the way, visit one of the Rourke's Drift websites - the film 'Zulu' wasn't all that faithful to the facts!!

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