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Posted on Sep 20, 2006 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Zulu – Movie Review

By Peter C. Hipple

zulu1.jpgMovie Review: Zulu
1964. Directed by Cy Enfield. Starring Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins and Michael Caine.

During the crusade to colonize Southern Africa in 1879, the tribesman of the AmaZulu warriors defeated a British stronghold of about one thousand two hundred men at the outpost of Isandhlwana. Shortly after, and despite orders not to attack, the Zulus would take on a small British supply garrison with a force of between four and five thousand warriors, against a defending force numbering just one hundred and thirty-nine men in a place known as Rorke’s Drift.

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With fierce attacks raging through the night, when dawn came at last, the Zulus drew off taking their wounded with them and leaving at least three hundred and seventy of their dead around the barricades. Eleven of the defending Britsh soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest recognition for valour in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces of any rank in any service, and civilians under military command. The number of VCs issued remains the most ever issued in a single action.

Zulu the film is a towering cinematic achievement, starring Stanley Baker (Guns of Navarone), Jack Hawkins (Lawrence of Arabia) and in his first major motion picture, Michael Caine. With some epic battle scenes amidst the incredible scenery, the performances are brillaint, showing the characters’ unyielding heroism and leadership as they fight off wave upon wave of thousands of warriors. The film gives a good overall sequence of events, but according to history, the real persons were not accurately portrayed. The Reverend Witt was not a drunk. He and another Reverend and surgeon, were on lookout for approaching Zulus. Pvt. Hook was shown as a petty thief in the hospital scenes, which contradicts the real facts. Nonetheless, the movie is an outstanding frontier-like classic and reflects one of many battles that history forgets. The fact that 11 Victoria Medals were awarded is historic in itself. The movie theme by John Barry also adds to the atmosphere.

Zulu is not rated and is available on DVD.

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About the Author

Peter Hipple is a Submariner with the US Navy and is currently stationed in Groton, CT.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. The Battle of Isandhlwana did not take place at a stronghold, or a fortified position – The British troops were travelling through Zulu territory when they were attacked.

  2. I introduced ZULU to my grandson about the age of 10 and it soon became one of his favorites. Because I teach History at the college level we enjoyed many discussion about the history of the wars, etc. Fast forwards to his beginning of University and wondering into his dorms common room where he found several dozen of his classmates watching the movie and having the same discussion he and I had years before…hope for the younger generation after all.

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