MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 3,379 this week

Zulu Dawn (1979)

 -  Adventure | Drama | History  -  15 May 1979 (USA)
6.6
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.6/10 from 4,097 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 23 critic

A dramatization of the Battle of Isandlwana, where the British Army met its match against the Zulu nation.

Director:

Writers:

(original story and scenario), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 46 titles
created 22 Aug 2011
 
a list of 30 titles
created 02 Aug 2012
 
a list of 47 titles
created 11 Feb 2013
 
a list of 29 titles
created 11 Feb 2013
 
a list of 40 titles
created 9 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Zulu Dawn" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Zulu Dawn (1979)

Zulu Dawn (1979) on IMDb 6.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Zulu Dawn.

User Polls

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Khartoum (1966)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After an Egyptian army, commanded by British officers, is destroyed in a battle in the Sudan in the 1880's, the British government is in a quandary. It does not want to commit a British ... See full summary »

Directors: Basil Dearden, Eliot Elisofon
Stars: Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier, Richard Johnson
Zulu (2013)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The policemen, Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen, investigate a massacre during apartheid in South Africa, which apparently took place because a new illegal substance became available.

Director: Jérôme Salle
Stars: Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker, Tanya van Graan
Shaka Zulu (TV Mini-Series 1986)
Action | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A historical account on the life of the Zulu king Shaka.

Stars: Edward Fox, Robert Powell, Trevor Howard
Zulu (1964)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift.

Director: Cy Endfield
Stars: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson
Tenement (1985)
Action | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A drug selling and violent street-gang terrorize the renters of a big trashy apartment-house.

Director: Roberta Findlay
Stars: Joe Lynn, Mina Bern, Walter Bryant
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Allied prisoners of various nationalities pool their resources to plan numerous escapes from an "escape-proof" German POW camp housed in a Medieval castle.

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: John Mills, Eric Portman, Christopher Rhodes
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A dramatization of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the series of American blunders that allowed it to happen.

Directors: Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Martin Balsam, Sô Yamamura, Jason Robards
Waterloo I (1970)
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Facing the decline of everything he has worked to obtain, conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte and his army confront the British at the Battle of Waterloo.

Director: Sergey Bondarchuk
Stars: Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A hunch horse-player's marriage is threatened by his betting ways; in desperation, his wife becomes his bookie.

Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Eddie Albert
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A historical telling of the failed attempt to capture several bridges on a road to Germany in World War II, in a campaign called Operation Market-Garden.

Director: Richard Attenborough
Stars: Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Michael Caine
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

"Kilroy Was Here" was a popular expression during World War II, but it's not much fun to John J. Kilroy, who has to try to live with all the jokes and wisecracks regarding his name.

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: Jackie Cooper, Jackie Coogan, Wanda McKay
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Pte. Williams (as Dai Bradley)
...
Donald Pickering ...
Nicholas Clay ...
...
Ian Yule ...
Peter J. Elliott ...
Brian O'Shaughnessy ...
Maj. Smith R.A. (as Brian O'Shaunnessy)
Edit

Storyline

In 1879 South Africa, the administrators of the British Cape Colony have designs to eliminate the Zulus as a hindrance to their colonial economy. To that end, the British present King Cetshwayo with an impossible ultimatum to provoke a war they are sure they can win easily with their rifles and artillery against native spears. However, that war proves more difficult than the arrogant British commander, Lord Chelmsford, expects as his overburdened army fruitlessly searches for the elusive enemy. However, in the shadow of a hill called Isandlwana, the overconfident British army learns to its sorrow just how badly they have underestimated the tactical skill and might of the Zulu nation. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

zulu | british army | rifle | battle | africa | See more »

Taglines:

The blood and thunder epic... a true story (dvd) See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Language:

|

Release Date:

15 May 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amanecer Zulú  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(as Dolby System Noise Reduction-High Fidelity)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie is based on an original story and scenario by Cy Endfield, who is also credited as writing its screenplay. Enfield was a producer and the director and screenwriter of Zulu (1964). He was considered an expert on African history and the history of the Zulu nation and was was slated to direct this film, but died before production began. Douglas Hickox replaced him. It was to prove to be Hickox's last film. See more »

Goofs

The crossing at Rorke's Drift was filmed at the actual location, but it was filmed showing the column crossing from Zulu Land into Natal. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sir Henry Bartle Frere: [proofreading aloud the ultimatum he has just drafted] Cetshwayo's Zulu army to disband and the warriors permitted to return to their homes.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Zulu Wars 1879 (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Men of Harlech
Traditional
Heard when the troops depart for Zululand
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
More relevant now than ever.
21 December 2004 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

Released in a badly cut version in 1979 just before the resurgent interest in Burt Lancaster for his performance in "Atlantic City and Peter O'Toole for "Stunt Man", this fine historical epic died an ignominious death at the box office, on the second half of a double bill with the horror film "Silent Scream". It was originally planned by Cy Endfield as a companion film to his 1964 classic, "Zulu". That film opened with a voice over of Richard Burton speaking Lord Chelmsford's communication to Prime Minister Disraeli detailing the massacre that befell a British column of about 1,800 British Infantrymen and native contingents at the hands of Zulu warriors at Isandlwana on January 22, 1879. This disaster left the 155 men at the mission post at Rorke's Drift to fend for themselves against several thousand Zulu warriors headed their way. "Zulu Dawn" chronicles the chain of events that led up to the British debacle at Isandlwana, the worst defeat ever suffered by a professional army at the hands of native forces in history.

Director Douglas Hickox keeps the film moving along and the film is an excellent example of adapting historical events to the needs of cinematic form and drama. In a little less than two hours the causes for the war as well as the roots of the disaster are laid out in clear, if simplified terms. The arrogance of the British Empire as personified by Sir Henry Bartle Frere, (John Mills in another stiff upper lip performance) and his chief lieutenant, Frederick Theisger, Lord Chelmsford, (Peter O'Toole, nicely understated and subdued) are in the filmmaker's view clearly responsible for a war that need never have been fought at all. The film also makes clear that Sir Henry initiated the conflict without the knowledge let alone consent of the British Government. But the arrogance and sense of entitlement that blinds Sir Henry to dealing with the Zulu in a just and legal manner affects all the participants involved, from the highest government official to the lowest private. It is the mistaken belief that technology, (exemplified here by rockets, cannons and rifles) somehow gives nations the right to take by force whatever they want. Handing Chelmsford his orders, Sir Henry asks, "Does this cover, Frederick what we both know to be right?" "Most excellently, Sir Henry." He replies. It is as if they both need spoken confirmation that the crime they are about to commit is in fact justified.

This English disdain is not just reserved for the Zulu, but for fellow countrymen as well. After Col. Hamilton-Brown, robustly played by Nigel Davenport refuses his table in order to be with his men still on the march, Chelmsford contemptuously warns his aide-de-camp, Lt. Hartford, sensitively played by Ronald Pickup to, "Learn nothing from that Irishman, except how not to behave." But his real distaste is reserved for Col. Anthony Durnford, a rough-hewn Irishman who has a way with the native troops. With his understanding of the Zulu warrior and his knowledge of the topography, Durnford would obviously be of great use in the coming campaign, but almost immediately there is tension between the two men. And with Burt Lancaster as Durnford it is easy to see why Chelmsford might feel threatened. Even with the use of only one arm, he is a natural leader of men, intelligent and charismatic and unlike Chelmsford he respects the Zulu. It is one of Lancaster's sage portrayals and this time he sports an Irish accent. Dialects were never one of his strong points and this one doesn't completely convince, but it is consistent and it underscores Durnford's isolation among the English who make up most of Chelmsford's staff. More importantly, even at 65, Lancaster has a bravado and dash which makes it understandable how he might warm the heart of beautiful young woman. Fanny Colenso so loved the older Durnford that she went on a one woman crusade to clear his name when the official inquiry into the disaster attempted to shift the blame for it onto him.

A great cast is well used in many telling vignettes. Denholm Elliot as the gentle Col. Pulliene has a moving death scene. Simon Ward as William Vereker represents what is best of the British aristocracy abroad and he quickly becomes disenchanted with the war, ("A very dirty business, indeed.") Michael Jayston as Col. Crealock, Chelmsford's secretary catches all the charm and tact needed for that difficult position. Freddie Jones and Anna Calder-Marshall as Bishop Colenso and his daughter Fanny, having lived among the Zulu are righteously indignant at the prospect of war. Ronald Lacey as Correspondent Norris Newman delights in skewering the official lies about the war. Peter Vaughn as Quartermaster Bloomfield, whose obsession in accounting for every cartridge and shell would have such horrific consequences is marvelous. Simon Sabela makes a very impressive King Cetshwayo in one of the opening sequences to the film and Bob Hoskins as tough Sergeant Major Williams is a lot of fun. With great battle scenes and a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein, "Zulu Dawn" is a worthy companion to "Zulu".


63 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Romans vs. Zulus andypaul_gill
'Final Solution' shimshamtothemax
why didn't pulleine shoot? billingscaleb
Isandlwana vs Kambula internetnicknamehere-178-30027
which of the main characters in the movie did exist and which did not? manuel-nunez
New R2 UK release on dvd plasmapulse
Discuss Zulu Dawn (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page