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
The Epilogue, narrated by Richard Burton, states that 11 soldiers from the battle were awarded the Victoria Cross, which is correct. However, 12 soldiers were actually nominated for the award, the 12th being being Colour Sgt. Frank Bourne (played by Nigel Green). On being informed of his nomination, Bourne requested that he be given a commission instead, which the army agreed to do, awarding him the Distinguished Conduct Medal instead of the V.C. Bourne was the youngest colour sergeant in the British Army at the time, and went on to have a distinguished career, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. When he died in 1945 he was the last surviving British soldier from the battle. However, the transcript of a radio interview given by Bourne in 1936 has him saying that he was offered a commission, in addition to the Distinguished Conduct Medal, but felt obliged to turn it down, as he was the youngest of eight sons of a poor family and could not have afforded to live as an officer was expected to. He was finally commissioned in 1890, 11 years after Rorke's Drift. See more »
In real life both Bromhead and Chard wore blue tunics. They also sported mustaches. See more »
Colour Sergeant Bourne:
[Quoting Psalm 46, v10-11 just before the battle]
I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us.
Cpl. William Allen:
I hope so. As I live and die, I hope so.
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At the end of the opening credits 'and Introducing Michael Caine' is shown, this would suggest that this was his first film. In fact MC had previously had five credited film roles, numerous TV appearances and several uncredited film roles before appearing in Zulu. See more »
This is an incredible film. While there a few inaccuracies and some dramatic licenses, on the whole the movie follows accounts of the battle accurately. It doesn't vilify the Zulu, in fact it treats them with great respect for their bravery and devotion to their homeland. The bare facts are well known, that Rorke's Drift was the jumping off point for the British invasion of Zululand, and was a hospital and supply depot. It was defended by roughly one hundred men against some 4,000 Zulu. Stanley Baker is outstanding as Lt Chard, the senior officer at the fort, who takes command despite being an engineer officer. Michael Caine is, of course fantastic in his first big role as Lt. Bromhead. Nigel Green is superb as Colour Sergeant Bourne, who received a promotion instead of a Victoria Cross and outlived all the other defenders. The cast of mostly Welsh actors really convey the desperation and bravery of the garrison. The biggest fault with the film is the total misrepresentation of Pvt Henery Hook as a malingerer, in fact he was a good soldier and bravely risked his life to empty the hospital. The scenes of the post before the attack show soldiers at their worst in some ways, especially the treatment of Margaretta Witt. The atmosphere and attitude change when the imminent threat of Zulu attack becomes a fact. Unlike the overconfident officers at Isandlhwana, the inexperienced lieutenants build their defenses and set up ammunition supply to counter the assault. They respect their opponents and understand that they may be the last line of defense against a counter-invasion into Natal. The fighting is spectacularly filmed, highlighting the bravery and resolve of the Zulu and the determination of the redcoats to survive and hold the fort. I was embarrassed to read the comments of certain Americans who have had their brains filled with revisionist political correctness and rooted for the British soldiers to "choke on their own vomit" and die because they were imperialist tools. Just to see this as a record of great bravery (on both sides) and an exciting entertainment apparently isn't enough, they have to spout P C drivel.
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