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Zulu (1964)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 17 June 1964 (USA)
Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift.

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Writers:

(original screenplay), (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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4,807 ( 553)

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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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Ivor Emmanuel ...
Paul Daneman ...
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David Kernan ...
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Peter Gill ...
Tom Gerrard ...
Lance / Corporal
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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:

These are the days and nights of fury and honor and courage and cowardice that an entire century of empire-making and film-making can never surpass! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 June 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zulu  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,720,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,000,000, 31 December 1964
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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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

Because of the apartheid laws in South Africa at the time, none of the actors who portrayed the Zulu warriors were allowed to attend the premiere of the movie. See more »

Goofs

When Cpl. Allen is shot while helping Hitch, he grasps the right-hand side of his chest, but in all other scenes the wound is on the left side. See more »

Quotes

Cpl. William Allen: Heave! Put a bit more weight on that rope, you men!
Pvt. John Williams: He's even got a voice like a corporal!
Pvt. Fred Hitch: Yeah, sort of like a female hippopotamus in labor.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in History Buffs: Gladiator (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Cymru Am Byth in South Africa
30 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

If you watch only the first two minutes of 'Zulu', it will be worth your while. The superbly dramatic theme music, followed immediately by Richard Burton's striking Welsh narration, are utterly entrancing. The rest of the film is not bad, either!

In January 1879, during the Boer War, at Isandhlwana in South Africa, over one thousand British troops are annihilated by King Cetshwayo's Zulu army. Standing between the four thousand Zulus and victory is the mission station at Rorke's Drift and about one hundred and forty British soldiers, some of whom are wounded. Commanding the military operation is the young Lieutenant John Chard (Stanley Baker, also co-producer of the film) with Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine, in his first major film role). Against the unimaginable odds, the British troops - the B Company of the 24th Regiment of Foot, South Wales Borderers - manage, with exceptional courage and stoicism, to hold off the Zulu attacks until morning. The valour of the men defending Rourke's Drift resulted in the awarding of eleven Victoria Crosses. The roll of honour is recited by Richard Burton at the film's end.

Baker and Caine are very convincing in the two lead roles as Chard and Bromhead, the rival lieutenants from different social classes who come to respect and even like each other. Their first meeting emphasises the psychological as well as the physical distance between them. Chard, the Engineer Officer, in his shirt-sleeves, is up to his waist in water; Bromhead, the upper-class blue-blood, in his helmet and fine cloak, is on horseback, having just returned from hunting. However, as the battle progresses, this rivalry is forgotten as their prime concern is the job in hand. Their exchange when Chard is injured and Bromhead goes to his aid is telling. By the end of the film, as they stand together in the burnt-out ruins of the hospital, they are equals.

The incredibly virile Stanley Baker (one wants to say, "Fwhoar!" every time he appears on screen) co-produced the film because, like most Welshmen, he was extremely patriotic and wanted to publicise the bravery of the Welsh soldiers at Rorke's Drift. Michael Caine auditioned originally for the part of Hook but was offered instead the part of Bromhead as his looks were considered more suited to those of an upper-class officer than a Cockney private.

Good support is given by the other actors in the supporting roles. James Booth as Private Henry Hook is probably the most memorable character, portrayed (historically inaccurately) as the company ne'er-do-well, yet who wakes up to his duty at the moment of crisis and fights almost to the death. Jack Hawkins and Ulla Jacobssen are effective as the well-meaning but naive father-and-daughter missionaries, the Witts. The outstanding bravery and selflessness of the other (mainly) Welsh soldiers is brought out by all the actors in the subordinate roles.

What I think is very admirable about 'Zulu' is its lack of jingoism. Far from it crowing about British supremacy over the natives, it portrays the bravery of the Zulus as equal to or even greater than that of the British. At the end of the battle, there is no great rejoicing; it was just a job which had to be done because they were there. In the ruins of the hospital, when Chard asks Bromhead how he feels, Bromhead replies, "Sick." Their dialogue continues:

Bromhead: There's something else. I feel ashamed. Was that how it was for you? The first time?

Chard: First time? Do you think I could stand this butcher's yard more than once?

Bromhead: I didn't know.

Chard: I told you. I came up here to build a bridge.

No more needs to be said.

Although the character names and events are factual, the film does sometimes sacrifice historical accuracy for dramatic effect. How much real rivalry there was between Chard and Bromhead is unclear - although it is true that Bromhead ceded command to Chard. Private Hook was not the thief and ne'er-do-well as played by James Booth. Colour Sergeant Bourne was a short man and quite unlike Nigel Green in appearance. Most of the Victoria Cross winners were English, not Welsh. And the film itself was shot not at Rorke's Drift but at a location some miles away.

Interestingly, neither Chard nor Bromhead lived to a great age. Both died in their forties, Chard of mouth cancer in 1897 and Bromhead of fever on active service a few years before. Neither ever married. Nevertheless, their names are immortalised in 'Zulu' - as are the deeds of the tremendously brave men, Welsh, English and Zulu, at Rorke's Drift on 22nd/23rd January 1879.


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