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Zulu (1964)

Unrated | | Drama, History, War | 17 June 1964 (USA)
Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift.

Director:

Writers:

(original screenplay), (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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James Booth ...
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Colour - Sergeant Bourne
Ivor Emmanuel ...
Paul Daneman ...
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David Kernan ...
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Peter Gill ...
Tom Gerrard ...
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Storyline

Zululand, South Africa, 1879. The British are fighting the Zulus and one of their columns has just been wiped out at Isandlwana. The Zulus next fix their sights on the small British outpost at Rorke's Drift. At the outpost are 150 British troops under the command of Lieutenants Bromhead and Chard. In the next few days these 150 troops will fight about 4,000 Zulus in one of the most courageous battles in history. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The supreme spectacle that had to come thundering out of the most thrilling continent! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 June 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zulu  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints)| (70 mm prints)| (35 mm optical prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A new set of lyrics for the Welsh Anthem "Men of Harlech" was written just for this film. People still mistake this version of MOH for the "Original". The "Zulu Film Lyrics" are: Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming: Can't you see the spearpoints gleaming See the warrior pennants streaming O'er the battle field Men of Harlech, stand ye steady It can not be ever said ye For the battle were not ready -- Welshmen never yield! From the hills rebounding Let this war cry sounding Summon all at Cambria's call The mighty foe surrounding -- Men of Harlech, on to glory This will ever be your story: Keep these burning words before ye -- Welshmen will not yield! See more »

Goofs

In order to simulate 4,000 Zulu warriors lining up on a ridge, when only 500 Zulu extras were available, long wooden frames were used with 10-12 Zulu shields attached to the front of them with a real Zulu at each end. As the Zulus line up for the final "Fellow Braves" chant, there is one shot in which these shield-frames are obvious. See more »

Quotes

Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: It's fear dries the mouth, isn't it? When a man's as thirsty as this.
Lieutenant John Chard: I could have drunk a river.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title has fire within its letters, and it flies directly at the screen. Additionally, the title itself doesn't appear on screen until after the opening credits have finished rolling. See more »

Connections

Featured in Comic Relief: The Invasion of the Comic Tomatoes (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Men of Harlech
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by soldiers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
How the British Ruled the World
6 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A magnificent recreation of one of the most incredible battles in history, Zulu depicts how less than 100 British soldiers held off an army of 4000 Zulu warriors. The battle follows a previous one, less than a day before, in which about 1200 British soldiers lost. This film really gives new meaning to the saying 'keep a stiff upper lip' - or 'never say die.' The British soldiers here, led by Lieutenants played by Baker & Caine, know full well the force coming against them; they know what has already occurred. By rights, they should beat a hasty retreat before the approaching army arrives. The film never delves into the reasons, psychological or other, of why the commanding officer is determined to remain, beyond just the statement that he holds the "queen's commission." It's a question that baffles the missionary (Hawkins, usually the stiff English officer in other films) who begs them all to leave. The film seems to say, when the moment comes, no man really knows what he will do until it is upon him. Here, the soldiers find out very quickly what they're made of.

Cy Endfield, the director, manages to build some heady suspense before even the awesome battle scenes. The soldiers hear a strange sound in the distance, "like a train" notes Caine. Now we no longer need wonder what 8000 feet on soil sound like. And it's not just the suspense; the drama here is very effective. There are numerous sequences where Endfield manages to drive home a point that sticks in your mind for days - maybe years. Who can forget that simple act of turning over a wagon? The photography is superb, capturing the vastness of the area, and should be seen in widescreen glory. I've seen this film many times as a kid and, of course, these were standard TV showings; I didn't know better, it was one of my favorite films of all time, regardless, but it's twice as glorious in proper aspect ratio. I even had the privilege of seeing this on a theater screen once about 20 years ago and I was suitably blown away, even knowing the story beforehand (nowadays, a DVD on a big screen TV is your best bet). The musical score is perfect, as well. I can't imagine the film with anything different.

When the fighting begins, it's really breathless; by that I mean, there is one central action set piece when many of the Zulu warriors break through the ranks and threaten the inner compound, including the officer in command. I always have to hold my breath during this sequence, even though I've seen it 20 times, it's that good. Every time a Brit soldier falls, I think, my God, that's a good portion of the entire defending force! They can never make it! Yet, they do, several times. It's a relentless depiction of war battles, never equaled (as in "The Alamo",1960, another historical depiction of a small group against a much larger force - it's good, but not even close). Somehow, Endfield and whomever helped choreograph the action scenes managed to weld together the perfect combination of huge crowd battles and singular confrontations where it becomes a little personal.

All the actors are first rate. Caine is terrific in his first major role. Baker is very solid - has to be - as the one in command. Booth - I know his character may not be historically accurate - but he's the most colorful, and when he explodes into full-fledged heroism, it's something to see. And Nigel Green as the sergeant - THAT's why the British ruled the world for a time! In fact, all the supporting and minor roles are filled out excellently; this was when script writing had to be extra professional. The much later prequel had no hope of comparing to this masterpiece, but even that film was well done. Yes, I'll say it one more time - this is a masterpiece.


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