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5th March 2003"Zulu" to be remade?
By Natalija Mohovika
There is a distinct possibility that Steven Soderbergh will remake "Zulu" with George Clooney taking the role of Chard. The idea was mooted after a favourable CRITICAL response to the remake of the Tarkovsky film "Solaris" from the Stanislav Lem novel.
Soderbergh is an ambitious direrctor with an impressive list of films to his credit. He wishes to emphasise the "Welsh" and "epic" themes of the story. Forrest Whittaker is said to be interested in the role of King Cetawayo.
More news to follow when available.
5th March 2003Clive Dickens
O God a Yank my worst fears seem to be confirmed
5th March 2003Diana Blackwell
George f***ing Clooney!? How does that emphasize the Welsh motif?
"Zulu" is a gem that deserves a loving remake or none at all. An American-dominated remake is sure to suffer from mediocre acting . (You think Michael Caine's accent was bad??) Then there are all the special effects and martial arts maneuvers that Hollywood can't live without. I can just see Miss Witt (played by Jennifer Aniston or Kate Hudson) kicking ass on the ramparts in a leather catsuit. Can you say " plastic?" Bah humbug!
5th March 2003James Garland
I don't care if the lead is played by an American as long as he can get the accent right and he plays a good part.
Diana why would we want a Welshman to play Chard. Chard was English. The Welsh have hijacked Rorke's Drift over the years. Lets get it right for the record. The largest national group among the defenders was ENGLISH. I know that will stick in the throat of some of our Welsh readers but there it is.
The leading man in "Band of brothers" on the TV was British and he was playing the part of an American. So why not give the Yanks a try.
6th March 2003Peter Ewart
Beat me to it by a few minutes, James! Who is going to nail once and for all this persistent myth that there was something particularly Welsh about the defence of R/Drift?

Bravely & heroically though the Welsh chaps there undoubtedly fought (esp. Jones, Williams etc etc) they were in a tiny minority. The figures can never be 100% accurate by birth but the percentage of Taffies present at the defence was around 12% of the total of 150 or so - within a percentage point or so either way. Which leaves 80-odd per cent who weren't! There were even more Irish than Welsh serving in "B" Coy alone! (Which is what you would expect for any English infantry regiment of the period anyway).

Although hundreds of brave Taffs fell earlier that day in the 1st Bn, and the future SWB Reg't had a distinguished short history (& is quite rightly proud of the battle honour of its forbear regiment) the defence of R/Drift itself was essentially a British action in which the English played by far the major part - both officers and men.

Love him though we do, that man Baker has a lot to answer for, God rest his soul!

Have a look at the Guestbook on this site. A recent posting by the BBC makes the same mistake. If they can't get it right, who can?

As for Americans acting a British part, please don't get me going on that. It's not that they're American, but simply that they're not British. A Kiwi or an Aussie would be just as bad unless they had perfected an English accent - and I can't think that many Aussies or Kiwis would want to do that!!! (And it has to be the correct one for the part, not just any old English accent. And not like Caine, but we won't go into all that again now!) As soon as an American opens his mouth while playing a British part the film is ruined because all credibility is lost - and I'm sure the same would be the case with a Briton trying to put on an American accent. I'm sure the US audience would spot it immediately & lose faith in any authenticity.

I saw the first half of Zulu Dawn on video nearly 20 yrs ago (I never finished it) and - correct me if my memory's failed - saw Burt Lancaster, or some such, playing the part of Durnford. Now Lancaster was a good actor and a favourite of mine, but I fell about laughing at such a portrayal. Who even thought of such an idea? If I recall correctly, he was trying to put on a strangulated Irish accent. Now, Durnford may have been born in Ireland, but if that officer habitually spoke in a broad Irish accent as an adult - let alone one approximating to Lancaster's effort - then I'm the proverbial Chinese Dutchman.

6th March 2003Diana Blackwell
James and Peter,
Wait, I wasn't saying that Chard was Welsh--only that casting Americans won't make the remake more Welsh (which is Sonderheim's idea, not mine).
6th March 2003Peter Ewart

You're quite right - & I realise you were criticising Sonderheim, not following his idea about the "Welsh theme."

Of course, if one considers Isandlwana and R/Drift to be two elements of the same battle (with the latter being very much the minor part & doing comparatively little to offset the effect of that disastrous day) then there was a huge and tragic Welsh element. One would imagine the Welsh contribution to (and losses at) Isandlwana would be more appreciated, but Ivor Emmanuel put paid to that 40 years ago!

6th March 2003Andy Lee
In my humble opinion George Clooney would make a better Bromhead. Who ever takes the Chard part will be on a loosing wicket as there will never ever be another Sir Stanley.
One advantage will be that we have a Michael Caine free Zulu film.

I could live with a Jennifer Aniston (Miss Witt) or what about Britney Spears. Forrest Whittaker as Cetawayo sounds good. What about Vinnie Jones for the Hook role ? Any suggestions for the Rev.Smith


6th March 2003Arthur Bainbridge
This is absurd,why would Sondberg want to remake Zulu,I ve never seen this statement anywhere.This a fantastic wind up,we might as well have Kylie and J Lo as Z uku girls so we can judge the best bum comp.
6th March 2003Arthur Bainbridge
This is absurd,why would Sondberg want to remake Zulu,I ve never seen this statement anywhere.This a fantastic wind up,we might as well have Kylie and J Lo as Z uku girls so we can judge the best bum comp.
6th March 2003Mark Hobson
Lee Evans as Surgeon Reynolds I say!!!
6th March 2003Clive Dickens
Why not have Tony Blair as Lord Chelmsford he is just as big a blunder maker as Chelmsford
7th March 2003Andy Lee

Firstly was Lord Chelmsford such a big blunder maker ??

Secondly do you think Tony Blair is not right, I back him 100% and I'm as far right as you can go in the Conservative party. We do not know what weapons those idiots have and should back the Country's leader on this one - all together like our Rorkes Drift hero's.

7th March 2003leigh tarrant
Zulu? Re make. No thanks. Could be a bit of a laugh though If nothing else. Are there any better remakes in the history of time I wonder?? Mutiny on the Bounty Brando perhaps?? Not much else springs to mind. Just don't let Tim Burton near it thats all !!!
7th March 2003Clive Dickens
If you do not consider the loss of approx 1,300 men a blunder then I would not like to see one that you consider a blunder , Secondly I was not refering to the likely conflict with Iraq of which I too back him 100% on. I was refering to his and his goverments record here at home in the UK he has certainly not kept the promises to the British public that is all I am going to say on the matter because this is not a political site any case my remark was only meant to be tounge in the cheek stuff
7th March 2003George Hulmes
Any, I'm with clive on this one. Consider these points when looking at how Chelmsford conducted his forces before Isandhlwana.

1: The transport he acquired for No.3 column (slow oxen-drawn wagons) was wholly inadiquate, and the preparations for the invasion were hurried and ill-thought out.

2: He left no orders to laager or entrench/ fortify the camp at Isandhlwana. The irony is the Cetshwayo had given orders to his chief In-Duna NtShingwayo KaMhole NOT to attack the British if they were defending a fortified position.

3: Most obviously, Chelmsford split his forces without first knowing the Zulu Impi's numbers and location. We all know what happened to the 1300 men he left back guarding the camp at Isandhlwana.

7th March 2003Melvin Hunt
Here we go again. "Entrench, Fortify".
I ask the questions - With what?, How? and Why? George, please don't think that I am singling you out but I wonder if the people who use these tired and too oft repeated words have ever visited Isandlwana and objectively thought about it? Have they seen the size of the camp area? What worked at Rorkes Drift could not have been practicable at Isandlwana. If Pulleine had concentrated his firepower instead of dispersing it over such a large area, the outcome of the battle would have been different. With the rifles massed nearer Isandlwana he would even have been able to cover Durnfords retreat. Surely its time that full responsibility for the British defeat (I have deliberately not used the words "Zulu victory") should be placed firmly and squarely on Pulleines shoulders?
(Hopefull of debate)
8th March 2003Edward Garcia
The conversation is seeming to drift (pun intended) off subject but as an American I think it is important for me to say that the idea of casting George Clooney as Chard or Bromhead would be one of worst casting atrocities since John Wayne was chosen to play Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. Frankly I would not cast Clooney to play the water cart, a mealy bag or biscuit box.

The role needs to go to a good actor and weather he is British, Canadian, Australian, a New Zealander or American is not as important as the image that he is able to project on screen. Rorke’s Drift is an epic story all around and needs leading actors who can present an image as epic as the battle. The film also will need a director with epic vision – where is David Lean when we need him.
8th March 2003Clive Dickens
The only thing I can think of in favour of Lord Chelmsford is that he must have been under an awfull lot of pressure from Bartle-Frere who was helbent on invading Zululand.Lord Chelmsford was a soldier who even in that day and age would no doubt have liked a stronger force than he had available. But having said that he did not use those directly under is command in the central column as did Wood and Pearson.
8th March 2003richard
i read an interview with michael caine, he based the accent in zulu on his platoon commander in korea.
10th March 2003Miguel
I say, what about Denzel Washington playing the role of Chard? Somehow I guess that then Yank accents will no longer be an issue among you historical-accuracy freaks... and he is a damn good actor.
10th March 2003James Garland
How about making it a "Carry on film". It's a shame Sid James isn't with us any more. He would have made a good Chard.
11th March 2003Bill Power
Mel,Pulleine was simply a REMF,going by the"BooK" on open order!
11th March 2003Edward Garica
Since David Lean is no longer with us, perhaps Ridely Scott as director of a new version of "ZULU"?

As many know he did a homage of sorts to the film when he took the Zulu war chant from "ZULU" and used it for that of the Gemanic tribesmen during the opening battle sequence in "GLADIATOR".
11th March 2003Andy Lee
Denzel Washington as Chard ' ha ha ha ha' that's got to be a joke.

11th March 2003Dave Colbourne
I can't help feeling that this is all getting a bit silly!

Remakes very seldom work, different actors, different production teams and different times mean a different film. Not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it could not compete with the original.

That said, I do think it would be a good thing to have a really good, accurate film about RD, but not a remake of the original, please.

Incidentally, having listened to the commentary on the Zulu DVD, I'm amazed at how much footage was rejected. If that turned up and could be edited into the film, wouldn't that be something!
11th March 2003Peter Ewart


OK, good old Sid James as Chard. That's fine. Fits in perfectly with my suggestion some time ago that Kenneth Williams would have made a great Bromhead (given the way the script of "Zulu" was unfortunately written).

The rest of the cast pick themselves, don't they? Strict Carry On membership not insisted upon, but just think - these were all available to Baker & Endfield at the time. How on earth were they overlooked? Probably too busy in big parts. (I have to confess to never having heard of a single one of the modern actors/actresses/directors who've been suggested in the above postings, let alone seen them, so am not in a position to comment. Perhaps I ought to go to the pictures more often!)

Hook - Norman Wisdom (you know he has to be right!)

Smith - James Robertson Justice, for his beard and ebullient personality. Strict slimming regime required, though, and heavy make-up to disguise his middle/old age. Just look at de Neuville's painting & the argument is settled.

Witt - leave him out this time & give Smith his proper place. But his daughter can stay.

Miss de Witt - Barbara Windsor? She was a bit of a Johnnie-come-lately so we'll go for Hattie Jacques instead. As an added bonus, this would save expense on the bromide supplies for Hookie!

Dalton - Charles Hawtrey. Just to make the original casting appear positively macho & decisive by comparison! As, of course, it should have been in the first place.

Surg Reynolds - Kenneth Connor. Imagine his blustering, & the scalpel-wielding hand shaking, surrounded by Zulus & about to make an incision. And Miss de Witt standing over him? (Except that I've chosen HJ for her! Oh well ...)

But who on earth does Leslie Philips play? Again, the script points to Bromhead, even if the reality doesn't. And somehow Herbert Lom MUST be included. An early 60s film without the mysterious, nasty Herbert Lom? Impossible. Adendorff? Not fair on Adendorff! Could Lom do the Afrikaans accent? (I'm assuming he was Afrikaans - help me here, Lee).

Of course, the personality the 1964 film really lacked, the chap who was tailor-made for Bromhead's part, was Kenneth More. Can any of us really doubt for a moment that Kenneth More would have been absolutely perfect for Chard or Bromhead? In his "NW Frontier" role he'd have been terrific - in his "Sherriff of Fractured Jaw" role he'd have made the classic war comedy of all time.

And at the end, in rides Chelmsford with the rest of the column - and he simply HAS to be Sir Charles Aubrey ("round the corner") Smith. As in "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" or as in his earlier real life role as captain of Sussex, MCC & England, whichever you prefer. This would be my single gracious gesture to Hollywood, as he was a co-founder of Hollywood CC & was knighted for his contribution to Anglo-American relations. Look at his nose - then look at Chelmsford's.


12th March 2003Diana Blackwell
For Chaplain Smith, how about Ian McKellen?
13th March 2003Steven Sass
As an American of British heritage, the thought of George Clooney in a Zulu remake sickens me as well. The end result would predictably be politically correct and souless, ala the remake of "The Four Feathers." Clooney has already proven he can ruin a 60's classic when he blasphemed the Frank Sinatra role in Ocean's Eleven.

Please keep in mind the values of "middle America" are for the most part directly opposite to those of Hollywood. I do at times find the anti-American bias on this discussion forum to be a bit unsettling. There are many of us that truly do "get it" and have the highest appreciation and respect for the achievements of the British Victorian soldier. Several contributors to this forum have been quite helpful and have furthered the scholarship of this ignorant American. To those that wish to remain impugnable, I do understand. That whole American Revolution thing was a bitter pill, wasn't it!?



13th March 2003Peter Ewart
Well said, Steven.

I doubt that 1776 comes into it much & that many of the differences emanate from more recent times, such as 1914-18 and 39-45 (even though we were on the same side!) & have since become ingrained; the perceived insularity of the US and also its growing economic ascendancy worldwide during the 20th century at a time when GB's influence was in comparative decline.

It was probably timely to remind us that Hollywood isn't America and America isn't Hollywood - and that regardless of what is thought of US policies wordwide, there are many across the pond who do "get it."

I've corresponded for years with many Americans whose knowledge & understanding of British history & knowledge of primary sources (including local, social & military) is superb and who have enlightened me on subjects on which I had previously thought I was fairly well versed, including the AZW. Their contributions to this forum are a good example.

And I particularly admire a number of US historians who have published scholarly works on almost every period (& on many topics) of British or European history, including Raymond Massey and the late Barbara Tuchman (&, dare I say it, inaccuracies notwithstanding, the late Donald R Morris?)

Diane, it depends when any remake (heaven forbid) were planned, because I imagine it would take years to grow the requisite beard!


14th March 2003Edward Garcia
It is my hope that no remake of “Zulu” is attempted. By all accounts and historical accuracy not withstanding “Zulu” is a classic film and should be left alone as such. I am not sure what it is about the film industry’s tendency to want to re-make classic films and then do it badly. While there has been much criticism about all the things that they got wrong in “Zulu” but it should always be remembered that “Zulu” was not a documentary but entertainment. And as entertainment and as a film it was far superior in my opinion to that other epic of the AZW - “Zulu Dawn”.

If the film industry – on both sides of the Atlantic - is in need of a remake them remake “Zulu Dawn”. That film was described in the February 1992 issue of Military Illustrated as a “historical wax-works” tinged with political correctness. It had as fine a cast as any film could have hoped to have: Peter O’Toole, Sir John Mills, Simon Ward, Bob Hoskins, Denholm Elliot and one Yank by the name of Burt Lancaster but it still suffered.

Assemble a good cast, get a good script and give both to a good director who is sensitive to the subject and remake “Zulu Dawn” but please leave “Zulu” alone.

Of course I am sure we would all love to see a documentary about Rorke’s Drift, or the whole AZW for that matter of the quality that Ken Burn’s produced on the American Civil War several years ago. I have no idea if “The Civil War” was ever released in Britain but it is well worth seeing and I am sure that many would agree that such an effort devoted to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 would be well received indeed.
14th March 2003Edward Bear
Well, all that seems to have been good for the heart and lungs!
16th March 2003James Garland
Well said Steven Sass. Just as people tend to find fault in those they are closest to, so countries argue more with their closest allies. The English/Scots/Welsh and Irish bicker constantly but when the chips are down we stand together (except where Football and Rugby are concerned)
16th March 2003Glenn Wade
Has anybody seen 'From Hell'? Just incase you haven't it's a cracking film about 'Jack The Ripper' with good British actors in it like Robbie Coltrane. I think a new film about Rorkes Drift would have to have spotless accuracy, great graphics and some good British actors. Don't put the Americans down, Johnny Depp gave a great performance as a cockney! Heres a few thoughts for some actors. Robbie Coltrane, Sean Bean, Ioan Gruffud, Rowan Atkinson, David Jason and how about Russel Crowe or Mel Gibson?
16th March 2003Dave Towers
Ive just watched Zulu tonight for the ??time - its a true classic , as for a remake what about Ainsly Harriot as Ketchoweyo ? See how absurd that is .
17th March 2003Andy Lee

You suggest some good choices for actors bar one, Rowan Atkinson !!! he is as bad as Michael Caine.

29th March 2003neil aspinshaw
Humm!!, a yank as a redcoat? an interesting plot no doubt would unfold.. a bit like U593, where the good old yanks captured the enigma machine!, perhaps the mission station would be saved by custer and the 7th cavalry! denzel washington could play Dublamaze Kamapande! or what about bromhead saying " thats funny.. sounds like a railroad.. in the distance!.".. what aload of tripe!.