you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
26th February 2004Mistakes
By Graham Mason
Much has been written over the last 40 years regarding the " mistakes " in Zulu and this distracts from a piece of entertainment rather than showing a TRUE side to the actions at KWAJIMU on Jan 22 1879 .

Most films these days have been re-made and this is one exception todate , i would hope those in the film making business would jump at the chance to show an ACCURATE portrayal of events back in 1879 . Perhaps then we would get a better presentation of DALTON , see HITCH getting wounded in the shoulder, see ALLEN as a much smaller person and so on , it could also set the record straight regarding HOOK and of course we might even see an Ammunition SMITH in the cast ! Many arguements have been discussed in this forum , how about starting a poll as to the merits of a TRUER version of Zulu AND FINALLY ( for the time being ) let us see uniforms as would have been after 9 months in the field and NO pithe helmet badges and so on , let us see a MABIN , CpL GRAHAM and a Cantwell , after all they were there , come on the British FILM INDUSTRY , lets see another film showing for once the TRUE FACTS at Rorkes Drift on that day in 1879 , THANK YOU .
27th February 2004John Hand

What you are describing is a documentary not a movie. Sadly factuality and Hollywood box office are not compatable.
27th February 2004Steven Etchells
The great thing about 'Zulu' is that it draws you in emotionally, something that 'Zulu Dawn' never did. Plus'Zulu Dawn' has rubbish music.
27th February 2004John Young

May be we'd see William ALLAN, (my turn to shout.) rather Allen at RORKE'S (and again) Drift!

By the way, there is some photographic evidence that at least some officers & men from the 24th did wear helmet/shako plates on their Foreign Service helmets, although many more photographs show them without badges on their helmets.

Before we starting lobbying the British film industry, let's to try and get our own house in order first.

On the subject of re-makes, I see that another film charting the gallant defence of a mission station, against overwhelming odds is due for release in April, and it looks far better than the John Wayne version, may be we will remember he forthcoming version of "The Alamo".

John Y.
27th February 2004Simon Copley
Has anyone ever made a film of the French Foreign Legion stand at Camerone?

The more I think about Zulu the more I realise how it departs from fact. But I can't help thinking that the facts are as dramatic as any fiction can ever be.
27th February 2004John Young

To my knowledge no-one has made a film actually about Captain D'Anjou and his little band. I did start writing a piece about it years ago, but I never finished it.

John Y.
27th February 2004Simon Copley
John, this is our chance!! We could do a screenplay!
27th February 2004Sheldon Hall
I really ought not to get drawn into this discussion, but...

Graham, you say "let us see a MABIN , CpL GRAHAM and a Cantwell , after all they were there". There were another 150 defenders also there: how many of them do you want to see represented? (i.e. how long do you want the new movie to be?) And of what possible consequence is it that we should "see ALLEN [sic] as a much smaller person"? What has his (or anyone else's) height got to do with history? Or, more to the point, drama?

John, word on the new ALAMO film is not good. It was originally due for a Christmas release in the US, but this was postponed after poor test preview results. Presumably they're even now shooting a new ending in which the Texicans win. I see another FOUR FEATHERS fiasco looming... (For further info, see Personally, I rather like the John Wayne version; I showed it to my students a few weeks ago. And yes, I know it's historically inaccurate.
27th February 2004John Young

You're right the film does end in a Texican victory - San Jacinto! The trailer I saw the other day looked interesting enough, obviously the music wasn't finished as they had used the music from 'Gladiator'. I heard there were problems with a director walking out, over the amount of gore involved. At least B.B.T. looks the part!


Shame on you for your comments about the music from 'Zulu Dawn', listen to it again, and you might just hear a theme from a famous western.

John Y.
1st March 2004Graham Mason
Dear Sheldon ,
Of course one could argue all day long as to the content of a film but if the film made by Stanley Baxter & co had of been 100% correct init`s portrayal would we 125 years later be discussing events at Rorkes Drift in 1879? , Allen was small in stature and HITCH was shot in the shoulder and not the leg , HOOK was not the man as portrayed in the film and so on . The names i mentioned were meant to be representative o fthe names and CHARACTERS that could have been drawn on , of course you can`t have all defenders mentioned because we still don`t know to this day just who were there in total ! .
No mention of " Ammunition Smith " , a better portrayal of Dalton , not too much to ask in a film that could be made better some 40 years later . Getting the balance right between FACT & ENTERTAINMENT is up to those who make films , would we be happy if say MEL GIBSON was handed the project of making " ZULU " over again ? . As to the length of the film , well again that is not up to me , 90 minutes too short ?, 4 hours too long ? , a question of balance i feel . I still believe the film industry could make a TRUER version and still maintain a balance between fact , fiction and individuals portrayed . Cpl Allen was not the physique of the actor who portrayed him and it was CHARD who had the bat-man and not BROMHEAD as everyone knows , all i ask is to see an entertaining film of suitable length showing a more accurate picture of events at Rorkes Drift on Jan 22 1879 , i hope it comes about one day , thank you , Graham .
1st March 2004John Young

I'd loved to seen the movie made by Stanley Baxter. Imagine the comedy that could have delivered! Would we have needed subtitles for his Scottish accent? I'd assume he would have played Private Roy?

John Y.
1st March 2004Sheldon Hall
My point in asking you about a preferred running time was that, no matter how long it was, any film of the event would not be able to depict or identify ALL the defenders. Selections have to be made somehow, and the makers of ZULU had good reason for choosing the figures that they did and omitting others. They also had good (artistic) reasons for re-imagining the characters rather than adhering to the historical record. Not all alterations to or deviations from the facts are "mistakes". My other point was that some of the facts you mention as being "wrong" are so minor (eg Allen's height, the location of wounds, etc) as to be completely irrelevant to any serious discussion of Rorke's Drift or dramatic representations thereof.
1st March 2004Graham Mason
When you have a stinking cold vision is blurred and tiredness creeps in .STANLEY BAXTER might have well indeed portrayed a character in " ZULU " and most likely portayed him well ! , STANLEY BAKER on the other hand another fine thespian did somewhat " hijack " the facts in the film , it has not detracted from the enjoyment but as i have got more into this subject i realise as an individual i would like to see a more ACCURATE portrayal of key characters .

As HITCH was shot in the shoulder is there a valid reason to show it on film as him being hit in the leg ? , ALLEN was small in stature whereas his portrayal was of a man much bigger , what artistic reasons were there for this and other reasons ??? , yes certain figures had to be chosen within the limitations of the allocated time , how much can you cede to artistic licence and detract from the TRUTH ? . No matter who is portrayed in a film like ZULU there will always be a comedian who picks holes in no matter what is said ( sometimes in honest errors of text ) . This medium is still new to me and i ask for a little understanding in any errors i type . I welcome your response Sheldon and hope that lively debate continues long after our own final roll call . One day a new Zulu film will hit the screens and for one i hope it is good and as accurate as possible without being boring , 125 years after the event and 40 years after the film there is much more to discuss and i look forward to such , thank you , Graham .
2nd March 2004John Young

Here's one for you - why didn't Stanley Baxter get the role in 'Zulu'? Because Nigel Green told him, "No comedians please."

John Y.
2nd March 2004Sheldon Hall

We do agree on one thing - long may the debate continue!

Best wishes, SH
2nd March 2004Graham Mason
Dear Sheldon ,
I fully concur and if we were all of the same opinion and thoughts what a boring concept that would be ! , actually i think STANLEY BAXTER would have been a good choice for Pte Roy 1 / 24th come to think of it in Zulu ! , just who to portray and who to omit would be of great interest in another version of Zulu ! . Since starting my own investigations i have come across many things that were not as reported in many publications . I wonder if many realise that FIFE had a son at Rorkes Drift ??? and that was the self same Pte Roy 1 / 24th DCM , a little place called PORTMOAK near Loch Leven his actual place of birth and not EDINBURGH or indeed DUNDEE . I have just got a book by Ian Knight where the best guess of defenders was 152 at Rorkes Drift , a figure i tend to lean towards , whatever the TRUE numbers it keeps our interest afloat and i look forward to further inputs from you , Cheers! , Graham .
3rd March 2004Leigh tarrant
How about Stanley Baxter in the new ALAMO movie, after all - you won't better the John Wayne version, so it would be game for a laugh and a surprise!!!

Always amusing these movie anagrams...
3rd March 2004Alan Critchley
I like to get facts on the site as correct as possible. Why do you say he was born in Portmoak?
I believe that on William's death certificate, his brother John (the informant) states William's birthplace as Fofarshire (nowdays known as Angus).
When Wiliam arrived in Sydney, on both the ship and immigration board lists he gives his native place as Kinross and his parents as James and Elizabeth of Fofarshire. Not sure if this means County or City of Kinross, also native place could mean place of birth or perhaps his last place of residence.
I really don't know.

3rd March 2004Peter Ewart
I think native place can mean only one's birthplace. Nativus - Latin, to be born. For example, I have lived in Kent for many years but can only ever be a native of Sussex


P.S. I believe it's probably only a spelling mistake but the Rev George Smith's native place was actually DOCKING, whereas it is given as Dorking on this site. (Not a complaint by the way, just an obervation!)