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
During shooting Paramount sent a telegram to the producers in Africa to immediately fire Michael Caine, because they had seen the rushes and decided that he was giving a terrible performance. Caine read that telegram before the producers did, because their secretary gave it to him first. Afterwards, he was very nervous waiting to be fired, but couldn't mention this to the producers because he would get that secretary into trouble. After a few days he mentioned it to one of the producers, making up a story of how he read the telegram. The producer told him he wasn't fired, but warned Caine to keep away from his mail. See more »
In real life both Bromhead and Chard wore blue tunics. They also sported mustaches. 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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