Wednesday 3 July 2013

Film Review - Zulu

After watching 300 I thought that I should re-watch the daddy of all desperate stand movies. I first watched Zulu too many years ago as a young boy and I loved the excitement and desperation of it and those attributes still satisfy now that I'm older and more cynical.

The film tells the story of a small contingent of British soldiers station at a missionary station called Rourke's Drift. After the annihilation of their brigade, the 100 troops find themselves under attack by 4000 Zulus. It's a classic war film, lacking the gore and effects you'll see in more modern films. It's also acted in a very dramatic fashion, which dates it as well, but that suits the era the film is set in.

The story is exciting and well told. The scenery is amazing and looks great on blu-ray. It's full of interesting characters, the colour sergeant stands out for me. It's a great film that stands out today as much as it did when I first watched it.

And there's some great singing in there as well, from both sides.

Filmed on a grand scale, Zulu is a rousing recreation of the January 22, 1879, siege of Rorke's Drift in Natal, Africa. An army of 4,000 Zulu warriors have already decimated a huge British garrison; now they are on their way to the much smaller Rorke's Drift. A Royal Engineers officer (Stanley Baker) is determined to stand his ground, despite having only a skeleton garrison at his command. His steamroller tactics are constantly at odds with those of a by-the-book lieutenant (Michael Caine), who feels that a retreat is called for, but it becomes clear that if the garrison is to survive, they'd better pay heed. Jack Hawkins and Ulla Jacobsson are also on hand as an idealistic missionary and his somewhat more pragmatic daughter. Richard Burton provides the narration for Zulu, closing the film with the observation that 11 of the 1,344 Victoria Crosses awarded since 1856 were bestowed upon the survivors of Rorke's Drift. Zulu was followed in 1979 by a prequel, Zulu Dawn.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Buy Zulu now from Amazon (and you really should!)


  1. Zulu is, and always has been, one of my all-time favourite movies! The history may be a dodgy but I can forgive that. It's the best, most spectacular, and ultimately satisfying 'last stand' movie ever made. Zulu Dawn, on the other hand, is okay but only just. The book is better, but the historical inaccuracies of the movie do actually damage the quality of the tale. Stick with Zulu!! BTW, has anybody else noticed that the Germanic tribes in Gladiator appear to use the Zulu chant? :D Guess that sound clip is just too perfect ;)

    1. I hadn't noticed the re-use of the chants in Gladiator, I'll have to give that a re-watch.

      I remember seeing Zulu Dawn as a youngster, but don't really remember the film. I'll give it another watch at some stage, but it isn't the classic that Zulu is.

  2. Ordered the DVD a few weeks ago but haven't had a chance to watch it - sounds like I need to make the time!