Policemen Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen investigate the brutal murder of a young white woman, apparently provoked by the availability of a new illegal drug and somehow connected to the disappearance of black street children.
Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
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
Still Photographer Bob Martin and Nigel Green visited the Zulu war museum in Ladismith and found a Queen Victoria commemorative silk handkerchief on which was printed, "Bugle calls to be used in battle". Green got permission to copy these "notes" after practicing for weeks ("I had not blown a bugle since my navy days years before") and, armed with the prop bugle, Claude Hitchcock and the sound crew recorded the calls in a gorge (for echo effect) they were used in the final soundtrack of the film. See more »
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. 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.
See more »
Opening credits prologue: JANUARY 23rd 1879 See more »
Superlative acting, cinematography & direction: what impact!
I cannot find words to fully express how perfectly formed this film is, though I will- of course- make a good stab at it!
I've seen Zulu so many times since it was first released that I have lost count. In the days when you could sit in the cinema and watch a film come round for a second (or even a third) time, I always did this with Zulu. I bought the soundtrack when it came out (on vinyl, of course).
From Stanley Baker & Michael Caine on through the cast list the acting is, quite simply, superb. This is an ensemble piece, and the ensemble gives its all! Photographically, it is beautifully conceived and executed. There is a tendency in 'war' movies to find a couple of favourite types of shot, and then endlessly repeat them, rather like a budgerigar that has learnt how to make his bell ring: no danger of that here; a whole lexicon of camera movements & angles is deployed with consummate skill so that you cannot watch this film without being fully engaged with it.
But, to cut to the chase, what is so striking is that here is a movie that could so easily have been yet another 'duffing up the natives' actioner, and instead becomes a vehicle for all sorts of interesting questions. Questions such as 'what is it to be a man?', and 'what is courage?' are posed and turned into interesting questions with complex and surprising answers.
The way that Zulu culture/social psychology is compared with that of the British soldiers is also deft and insightful. The cry of the drunken pastor- "you're all going to die"- echoes through the rest of the film, as we see how the protagonists face death.
Any review of this would be incomplete without mention of the music, which is so well-suited to the action. It forms a restless, swirling, and sometimes majestic backdrop to what is happening on-screen.
The voice-overs which 'bookend' the film also underline that which is, in any case, clear from the narrative: this film is no apologia for imperialism. Neither does it represent battle as other than bloody and painful murder. What is, perhaps, the most remarkable feature of the film is the way in which it damns war while neither grossing out nor alienating its audience. It is, on the contrary, an enthralling and passionate entertainment.
One memorable visual moment occurs toward the end, when the Zulus appear simultaneously on the skyline all round Rorke's Drift. Compare this with the appearance of the tanks on the skyline in 'The Battle of the Bulge'...
P.S., beware (as you always should) TV showings or videos that are 'scanned' rather than in the original letterbox format: cinematography this good does not deserve to be butchered!
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