In the hospital before the battle, one of the soldiers named Jones tells Cpl. Schiess (who was actually in the Natal Native Contingent, not the Mounted Police as stated in the film) that he belongs to 'C Company'. In fact the company stationed at Rorke's Drift was B Company - as correctly identified at the end of the film in the list of recipients of the Victoria Cross.
Henry Hook is unfairly portrayed. According to Hook of Rorke's Drift by Barry C. Johnson, Bartletts Press, 2004: "[Hook] became the most famous private soldier in the annals of the British Army." He was "...a modest and exemplary hero." and "...the Producers of 'Zulu' originally intended to make to make Frederick Hitch, V.C., the 'malingerer' but decided, instead, to use Hook's name."
When Chard fights the two Zulus who break through the line, a soldier near him is shot and slumps over the sandbag wall. In the next shot Chard picks up the rifle which has a bayonet attached to it and uses it to fight the Zulus - except that when the stricken soldier fell, the rifle it didn't have a bayonet on it and was slung over the soldiers right shoulder - not propped against the wall conveniently to hand.
When De Witt is held is the store room before the first attack, some tunic jackets are seen hanging on the outside of the door in one medium long shot. But they weren't there a short while before, when Colour Sgt. Bourne told him to shut up, and they aren't there in a close-up of the store room door shortly after that.
As Chard is taken to the hospital, a soldier is leaning on the railing outside the hospital door. The soldier has both arms on the railing and his head is between an upright post and the door. When Chard reaches the hospital and the perspective switches, the soldier has only one arm on the railing and his head is on the other side of the post.
When Sgt Maxfield faints in the hospital, Hook walks over and stands over him with both hands empty and hanging at his sides. In the next shot we see Hook's face, and he is holding his right hand at shoulder height with his bayonet in his hand.
The scene with the messenger approaching the king, the sun is shining on the king's left shoulder. The following scene, messenger facing the king, the sun is shining from behind the camera position casting a different angle of shadow.
During the opening dance sequence, a messenger approaches where the Chief and Witt sit. Shadows extend from from the Chief and Witt toward the messenger. When the messenger actually gets to the Chief, no shadows are present. Also, in these same cuts, the area where Chief and Witt sit seems to shift from ground level to raised.
When Lt. Bromhead (Michael Caine) is seen returning from his hunt, the bearers are carrying a dead cheetah and a springbok. The springbok is an antelope that inhabits arid areas in the northwest of South Africa, and was never present in Natal.
Early scene with soldiers working on dam at the base shows the Drakensberg Amphitheatre in the background. This shot was taken in the upper Tugela river valley, miles away from the actual site of Rorke's Drift.
The soldiers wear parade dress uniforms, including white helmets displaying the regimental crest. On active service they would have worn a more basic uniform with plain cork helmets, as depicted correctly in Zulu Dawn (1979).
The Zulu chief Cetshwayo did not send his impi to attack Rorke's Drift, and in fact ordered that the installation be left alone. It was one of his half-brothers who ordered and led the attack, figuring he would get a quick victory and impress the king.
The final salute by the Zulus depicted in the film did not take place. Some warriors did appear on the hill the following morning, but they simply observed the British in silence for a while before leaving again.
Private Hitch VC, is seen being shot through the thigh by a Zulu sniper in the film. In fact he was shot through his shoulder and the bullet shattered his shoulder blade. There is a photograph of him taken after he was presented his VC showing his arm still in a sling, and a number of paintings of the battle show Hitch with his injured arm being held still by his belt. (Hitch was invalided out of the army and became a London taxi driver.)
At one point in the film, a bright flash of sunshine can be seen reflecting briefly on what was believed to be a vehicle windscreen up on a hill behind Rorke's Drift. However, Stanley Baker's widow and others who have visited the site confirm that it was impossible to get any sort of vehicle onto the ridge, so there must be some other explanation (probably a spear).
The British officer states that the Zulu riflemen can not fire from the hill because the chief is afraid of hitting his own warriors. This is incongruous with the opening skirmish in which the chief counts the British guns "with the lives of his warriors."
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.