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DateOriginal Topic
1st May 2005Zulu and Zulu Dawn questions - again
By Rob D
Hello. I've enjoyed reading this web site and hope someone out there will be able to answer a couple of questions for me.

1. At the end of Zulu when Chard is reporting to Chelmsford several riders with the column appear to be wearing blue jackets with red front panel (plastron?). Are these riders supposed to represent real people who would have been with Chelmsford or are they just a case of artistic license?

2. In Zulu Dawn lancers in a similar uniform feature in the film - again, who are they supposed to be - real people or more artistic license? I thought the only lancers involved in the AZW were the 17th who weren't sent out until well after Isandlwana and even then had white plastrons or wore them reversed, showing blue.

3. Length of Zulu Dawn - there are two running lengths shown in the IMDB - 108 minutes and 133 minutes. The IMDB does not have any details about what has been left out of the shorter version. Since the only version I've seen out here is the shorter one, I'd like to know what I've missed. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
1st May 2005Glenn Wade
Hi Rob

1. It is actually Bromhead who converses with the mounted men at the end of 'Zulu'. I think these men are supposed to be Lancers but if so, they didn't arrive until a while after the battle when reinforcements were sent from Britain. Their Uniforms are also wrong but that's getting trivial. The men who were the first at Rorke's Drift from Chelmsford's Column were Mounted Infantry

2. You're right again about 'artistic licence' and the Lancers

3. Many scenes were cut from 'Zulu Dawn' but they are available on DVD in the 'Marketplace' section of this site


1st May 2005John Young

1 & 2; As Glenn has mentioned it above artistic licence - but with something of a grounding in fact. We know from a previous thread that the production company used at least one illustration from one of the illustrated newspapers at the time as source material. I contend that they may also used another, depicting the relief of the Mission Station, which has the relief force led by Lieutenant-Colonel (local rank) J.C. Russell of the 12th (The Prince of Wales' Royal) Lancers.

The 12th Lancers wore a scarlet plastron, maybe the production company put two & two together and wrongly concluded that the relief force of mounted infantrymen were all from the 12th lancers - just a thought.

John Y.
1st May 2005Peter Ewart

Perfectly plausible, if a little generous. I wonder what the reason was for their inclusion in ZD, other than artistic licence taken to bizarre extremes? Didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw lancers trotting all over the place but it explains a fairly recent thread containing questions about cavalry at Isandlwana!

Perhaps they thought "if they're good enough to appear in ZULU, they're good enough for Zulu Dawn!"

1st May 2005Coll
I think with both films, as they were only covering a specific battle each and not the whole campaign, even though it was artistic licence, they were maybe trying to include other units to show there were other forces involved, as more of a representation rather than as actual facts of the real events.

Obviously, they could not represent every unit, but it is just something to consider, that the AZW campaign was bigger than these 2 battles and many more units (and men) were involved.

But then again, I don't know much about such matters.

3rd May 2005Rob D
Thanks for your replies.
Artistic licence it is for the "lancers", then, and you're right Glenn, it is Bromhead who talks to them while Chard is wandering around amongst the shields.
As for the two versions of Zulu Dawn (presumably the UK and overseas releases), I don't think the "outtakes" DVD in the Marketplace would be helpful, but thanks anyway.
3rd May 2005Sheldon Hall
I've just checked the IMDB entry on ZULU DAWN and the running times are given there as 115 mins (UK version) and 98 mins (US version), so I don't know where 133 and 108 mins came from. Other sources give 121 and 117 mins as the full-length running time (I will check my VHS and DVD copies). The outtakes DVD does not contain much, if any, additional material but rather alternate takes and 'rushes' (unedited footage) of scenes in the movie. There was little spare footage because many scenes were 'deleted' by never being shot, due to budget problems which necessitated reducing the shooting schedule.

As for the presence of the lancers at the end of ZULU, I can't offer a definite explanation other than guessing that the costume uniforms were available and could be had cheaply! John's argument is also a possibility. It's likely that the main point was that the uniforms were different from those of the RD defenders. Artistic licence is certainly the right phrase. If the inaccuracies are galling, consider also an early advertisement which appeared in the American trade press while the film was still in production, which read as follows: "A day that history and Africa will never forget! When the silent courage of 130 British Lancers faced the deafening might of 4000 Zulu Warriors..." So much for research! (but don't blame the production company...)
4th May 2005Coll
This is just an enquiry.

In the event of a new film being made about Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift, is there a possibility of an AZW-related organisation being able to 'safeguard' the uniforms, equipment, props, etc., used in the production, by appealing to the film company not to distribute the items back into the film community, but basically make them available to the AZW museums, enthusiasts, etc ?

The fact that some of the Zulu Dawn uniforms have appeared elsewhere, is a good example.

I know it is a daft question, but I think an opportunity like that would be a shame to miss.

5th May 2005Rob D
Thanks for your reply - I made a written note of those times a while ago and must have just got them wrong. In any case the US/overseas version appears to be considerably shorter than the UK version, and I'd like to know the differences between the two.
As to the Lancers, well at least their uniforms were close enough to Russell's to make some sense - if they'd been in Cherrypicker pants...
5th May 2005Martin Everett
I appreciate that you may not have had the opportunity all visiting the AZW associated museums - but the RD museum, Talana in Dundee and the Becon Regimental Museum has full sets of the uniforms worn in Zulu Dawn generuosly donated by the film community.
5th May 2005Coll

Yes. While I had been viewing previous topics, it was mention of the Zulu Dawn uniforms in a couple of museums that made me ask this question.

Also, I'm sure there were enquiries about the uniforms in Zulu as well as what happened to wagons used in a documentary.

Therefore, although pie-in-the-sky, I just combined all these together in this topic, to see if there would be a chance, after the possible filming of a new version of Zulu or Zulu Dawn, if there was a facility which would enable the AZW community to obtain all sorts of items from the movies, including props and larger items, such as wagons, tents, etc.

However, I'm sure such items would be too expensive to donate, but maybe in an auction of film goods, maybe somebody would like the opportunity to purchase some of them, obviously willing to spend a fairly large sum of money to do so.

I really was just meaning to basically catch the film company before these items were dispersed throughout the film community, to be used in other productions.

I think you know me by now, most of my topics are unusual, or as this one, pie-in-the-sky, not really to be taken too seriously.

But surely you must agree, if this opportunity arose, would it not get your attention ?

5th May 2005Martin Everett
Dear Coll,
Whilst the film props do have interest value, the quality is very inferior to the real thing. The badges are made of plastic. The jackets are unlined. Yes they have curiosity value, but you seem to suggest that they have a greater historical significance than they really deserve. I think you really need to see these film items to make a true judgement - they are not in the same league as Judy Garland's dress worn in the Wizard of Oz.
5th May 2005Coll

I'm aware of the quality, or maybe lack of it, with regards to uniforms from Zulu Dawn, which again was mentioned by someone on a previous topic.

I'm not suggesting anything about historical value, compared to the real thing, film items, obviously, will be inferior. I think you may be reading something into my replies that isn't actually there.

However, going back to what I really was saying, is that AZW enthusiasts would, I feel, maybe like to own an item or several items from films based on AZW battles.

There is a chance, I think, that any new film based on Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift, would maybe show more attention to detail on the uniforms and other aspects of the AZW included in the movie.

Yes. It would be more of a collector's item, or a curiosity, but an opportunity anyway, of owning a piece of film history, not british military history, although the subject matter, being the AZW connects them both.

6th May 2005Rob D

I checked the VHS rental tape of Zulu Dawn that I hired a while back, and the running time is listed as 100 minutes but is hard to read so I guess I misread it as 108 minutes - but I've got no idea where the '133' came from...

Like the idea of '130 British Lancers' though. Maybe a remake of Zulu could feature the '24th Welsh Foot Lancers' ('This is a Welsh cavalry regiment, mind, but we do have some English horses') led by Colonel Custer rescuing Princess Dabulamanzi from... Oh, never mind, I'm having a bad day.

6th May 2005Barry Taylor

If you have plenty of cash to spare, Bapty are willing to sell the Martini-Henrys used in 'Zulu'. They have them in various conditions, from de-activated to fully working. I picked up a very nice example of a Mk1 converted to Mk 2.


8th May 2005Neil Aspinshaw
I would be careful about buying a Martini Henry that was "used" in Zulu. Mainly because they didn't have that many to use in the first place..
40 years on from the film it would be rare to find one of them, certainly at a price that was acceptable. In most parts of the film 50% of the guns are bolt action, If you loom carefully alot of the Martinis are MK3, (You can see the forend bar near the reciever) ,In Zulu Dawn 98% are .303" Martini carbines. (except Bob Hoskins in his final scrap and the bloke who says "come all this way to be hit by a bullet from Birmingham," (which in the event is a post 1879 mark 3).
A Martini absolutely bona-fide from the film I would expect to be well over the £2k mark, and to pay that much for a de-ac is daylight robbery. likewise the chances of finding a genuine 24th Martini used at isandlwana or RD would be quite a turn-up. A friend of mine paid £950 for one that was "used in Zulu", two years ago (relatively high in the UK market for MK2 martinis) That leaves even fewer available, and , one would presume the Martinis used in the film were South African origin, so why did they not stay there.
I don't want to play too cool on the provenence thing, but I have got a bit bla-se about "genuine" artefacts, the market is a bit flooded with them.
My new website has picutres of the subtle variants.
9th May 2005Coll
I would have liked to have acquired Burt Lancaster's full uniform in Zulu Dawn, including the accessories, as well as the weapons, which were a revolver and hunting knife.

Again, it may not be Durnford's original uniform, etc., but the connection to the battle at Isandlwana, even by appearing in a film of the event, these items would be a most treasured part of my collection.

Additionally, any future film that was made about Isandlwana, I would be very keen to obtain Col. Durnford's uniform, etc., worn by the actor who played him.

All wishful thinking I know.