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Zulu Dawn (1979)

 -  Adventure | Drama | History  -  15 May 1979 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 4,135 users  
Reviews: 59 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 »
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Airs Sat. Oct. 11, 2:30 AM on TCM

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Title: Zulu Dawn (1979)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Colonel Pulleine / Col. Pulleine
...
...
...
...
...
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

Taglines:

A rip-roaring blood and thunder epic See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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

Actor and co-producer James Faulkner and his family were nearly injured when a helicopter had to make an emergency suddenly forced landing. See more »

Goofs

In several shots (most notable when the Zulus first come into view of the camp) it's obvious that many of the Zulu warriors are carrying fake shields: Instead of cowhide, the shields are obviously just painted on some sort of a plate, probably plywood. 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 »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: One hundred years ago the British Colony of Natal in Southern Africa was surrounded by a vast and independent Zulu Kingdom.

In 1879, a battle took place that was forever to alter the course of Colonial history: ISANDHLWANA See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.181 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Meticulous recreation of a bloody clash between British and Zulu forces in 1879 South-Africa.
24 July 2003 | by (Belgium) – See all my reviews

In fact, a prequel to 'Zulu' (1964) directed by Cy Endfield who was also a major collaborator on ZD. As 'Zulu' is about the battle of O'rourke's drift, one of the most celebrated victories in British military history, ZD deals with one of the biggest defeats of the British army by an indigenous force. It happened just a few days before the events in 'Zulu'.

ZD is sheer heaven for history buffs : everything is recreated into the tiniest detail : the uniforms, entirely filmed on location in South-Africa Natal province , the famous Martini Henry rifles, even including some kind of prehistoric rocket launchers, so no cost or effort were spared to recreate the conditions of the battle.

The Brits are represented by the cream of English actorsgild : Peter O'Toole as the too self-confident general, Simon Ward as the green lieutenant, Bob Hoskins (just before his breakthrough role in "the Long Good Friday") as a hardasnails sergeant and Denholm Elliot as one of the ignorant troop commanders.

Also a large Boer party ( settlers mostly from Holland as 'Boer' is the Dutch word for farmer) took part in the battle, lead here by none other then Burt Lancaster ! In 1879 the Boers still sided with The British against the Zulus. Twenty years later, after having defeated the Zulus, the Brits and Boers turned against each other and became involved in a struggle for the diamond-rich Natal province. A very bloody three-year war followed, simply known as 'the Boer war', where the British army was nearly defeated by the much smaller number of unprofessional Boers soldiers.

Director Douglas Hickox ( Entertaining Mr Sloane, Sitting Target, Sky Devils,etc..)does an excellent job and turns in a classic-style, immaculate and spectacular epic. Sadly ZD was a big flop at the box-office and marked the end of the old-style colonial epics, up until the recent remake of 'The Four Feathers'.

It also marked the end of the career of director Hickox in feature-length movies and he was forced to work for TV, condemned to churning out superior 'schmalzy' series as 'Mistral's Daughter', 'Sins', etc...

But as historical epics go, they do not come any better than this. I rate it 8/10.

If you like this try also 'Khartoum' (1966).


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