Zulu (DVD)

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Zulu (DVD)

Narrated by Richard Burton and starring an outstanding Michael Caine in his first starring role, ZULU is a tense and dramatic war film about the Battl...

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Review of "Zulu (DVD)"

published 18/05/2013 | miloh
Member since : 17/03/2013
Reviews : 173
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About me :
No need to thank me for well earned "E"s,but thank you for mine.
Pro True story.
Cons Michael Caine
very helpful
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Characters / Performances
Special Effects

"ZULU ....WOO-HOO ! A classic true tale."

I'm reviewing the Movie ZULU.
It is in DVD format and is available on amazon for £1.75p new +£1.26 P&P....or used from 1p + £1.26p P&P.
DVD released in 2002.
It is 133 mins long and stars,
Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Michael Caine.


I'd seen this movie on TV quite a few times and was intrigued by each and every viewing. It never failed to to entertain no matter how often I saw it, and I always knew it would be on around Christmas....just like The Great Escape. But a far better movie.
So I saw it for sale on amazon and bought a copy.


In January 1879 an army of 10,000 Zulu warriors besieged and annihilated 4,000 British troops camped at Islandlwana in South Africa.

10 miles away the British commanders of the massacred contingent had left a small group of men charged with building a bridge across a river at a camp known as Rorke's Drift.
This contingent was barely over 100 men (later reinforced by Colonial troops to around 150) and in fact some of the troops at this camp were ill and being treated in a makeshift hospital building there.

After the massacre at Islandlwana was over, 4000+ Zulu warriors arrived there too late for the big battle, and decided to march on Rorke's Drift instead and wipe out the British encampment there .The two commanders at Rorke's Drift (played by Stanley Baker and Michael Caine) were vastly different in character and outlook and had not been too happy working together up to this point, but on being warned by a contingent of Colonial Troops that their comrades had been massacred and an attack on them was imminent they immediately pulled together and organised the defense that has gone down in history and made the name 'Rorke's Drift' famous.

The battle which followed was breathtakingly portrayed in the movie with moments of terror,epic hand to hand battles and lump-in-the-throat renditions from the Welsh soldiers singing Men Of Harlech.
*Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
can't you see their spear points gleaming
see their warrior pennons streaming
to this battle field.
Men of Harlech stand ye steady
Let it not be ever said ye
For this battle were unready
Welshmen do not yield *

The battle raged from late afternoon through the night with constant waves of Zulus being repelled and much rebuilding of fortifications needed.The hospital was razed to the ground but the patients had mostly survived ,thanks to sterling defence of them by the able bodied among them. By dawn the soldiers were exhausted and the attack seemed over............till the thunderous footfalls of the marching zulus cut through the morning air and sent the men back to the fortifications prepared for the next wave of attack.
It didn't come.

Instead the Zulus fanned out on the overlooking hills, saluted the British as fellow warriors and retreated.

This is an utterly thrilling movie that stands the passage of time and is indeed a true classic and I never tire of watching it. At the end of it we see the soldiers 'clearing up' and trying to restore some sort of order to the ravaged camp, while the dulcet tones of Richard Burton reel off the list of those who were awarded medals for this battle and the camera pans round those being named . In total the awards were ,
11 awarded the Victoria Cross.
4 awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
An astonishing tally in such a small band of defenders.


Even allowing for artistic license, this is a really good account of those two days and near enough accurate, going by the records. Michael Caine was more or less unknown then and it is said that he was almost fired because the American backer of the movie found that "Caine didn't seem to know what to do with his hands ". Frankly I found Caine's acting the only slight irritant in the whole thing. His pretend posh accent and mannerisms are grating and just don't ring true at all. When Stanley Baker's character (Lieutenant John Chard) glared at him in disgust during some scenes I was in total sympathy, felt his pain, and wanted to slap Caine for overacting. Seemingly Caine had originally tried for the role of Alfred Hook (Hookie), who was a proper scallywag malingering in the hospital, but who showed his mettle in the heat of battle by defending his fellow patients and guiding them to relative (very relative) safety from the burning hospital building. I think Caine might have carried that part off better with his more common London accent, so I'm not sure how he got the posh Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead part.

Also, on reading up on this, it seems that by the end of the siege at Rorke's Drift the Zulus involved had been on the march for a full 6 days to take part in the battle and had not eaten properly in two days, so that must have been a Godsend to the British who were at least rested and well fed and armed.


At the start of the movie we see a Zulu celebration taking place. Lots of dancing etc and a white missionary (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter attending. It was at this ceremony that a runner appears and tells the Zulu leader overseeing the ceremony what has happened/is planned ,whereupon the missionary and his daughter then leave and head to Rorke's Drift to warn the British there.
Well...... the man playing King Chetewayo of the Zulus in that opening scene was
the real Chief of the Zulus at the time of filming.......Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is still active in South African Politics to this day and is a direct descendent of the Chief at the time of the battle at Rorke's Drift.

My DVD doesn't have the extras in the one featured above. Mine just has some Commentary with film historian Sheldon Hall and Zulu's second unit director Robert Porter,while the one pictured has a two-part "The Making Of Zulu" documentary. It features insights and reminiscences by Stanley Baker's widow, Ellen Baker, actor James Booth ("Private Hook"), second unit director Robert Porter, actor Glynn Edwards ("Corporal Allen"), and actor/stuntman Joe Powell .

I can't recommend this movie enough and I'm glad I still have the DVD .
Excitement to the maximum and a true story to boot.

I hope this review was helpful or at least interesting~~~miloh

Summary: A proper gung-ho true adventure.

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Comments on this review

  • lolbopo published 21/05/2013
    Nice review about the movie! Gonna watch this soon!
  • crystalaward published 18/05/2013
    E review :)
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Product Information : Zulu (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Narrated by Richard Burton and starring an outstanding Michael Caine in his first starring role, ZULU is a tense and dramatic war film about the Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879--which was part of the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa--where approximately 150 British soldiers held off 4,000 Zulu warriors. ZULU is an exceptionally well-made and beautifully shot film from 1964 that demonstrates the bravery of the British troops and also acknowledges the Zulu's bravery. The emotional score of the film was conducted by John Barry. Eleven Victoria Crosses were won in the action, the most in a single battle. Most of the characters in the movie were based on real participants of the battle.


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