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DateOriginal Topic
9th June 2003'Watches' given to the Zulu films 'extras'
By Marc Jung
Hi, & thanks to Melvin and Alistair who answered my last queries. I heard that on one of the 'Zulu' films, watches were given to the zulus who appeared in (which) film as payment as extras. I also heard that some of them could be seen wearing them in the film! Can anyone verify this, and at what point, which film etc? Or is it like that old chestnut of the 'Ferrari parked in the Ben-Hur film'? Thanks again, all.
12th June 2003Miguel
Marc, the film in question is 'Zulu'.

It is a fact that the extras were given watches as a payment for their participation (there are many other anecdotes about the filming, like the warnings the SA authorities of that time gave to the actors about not engaging in 'any' intercourse with black extras, female extras to be more specific...).

Although many references have been made to the watches being seen in the movie, personally I have never seen them, and I have a DVD.

Logic dictates that they might be there, but so far I have been lucky enough to not spot them (thus killing the dramatic effect).

13th June 2003Diana Blackwell
Miguel and Marc,
As I recall, this issue was addressed somewhere in the commentary section of the new Region 2 DVD of "Zulu." One of the authorities said that the Zulu extras were paid union scale, the same as any other extras would have been. This stuck in my mind because the story about the watches has been the conventional wisdom for so long. But it's been a little while since I watched the DVD so I can't tell you exactly where the statement occurs. Of course, Sheldon Hall would know.
13th June 2003Sheldon Hall
Thank you Diana! The story about watches is indeed a myth (one of many about the film). The Zulus were paid wages by agreement with their tribal leaders and the South African authorities. I've yet to see or hear of a single instance of a watch being seen on screen. A challenge for contributors to the forum?! It's possible that wrist bracelets worn by the Zulus have been mistaken by some viewers for them, but how it was thought they were actually paid with watches is a mystery to me. The warning not to fraternise with the Zulus is true, however: the cast and crew had to sign an agreement to abide by the government's apartheid race laws.