you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum
 
 

 
 

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

** IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL USERS **

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


(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
27th February 2004Zulu
By Steven Etchells
A lot of people I know became interested in the Anglo-Zulu war through watching the film Zulu, but I have since read that a lot of serious historians dismiss the film because it takes too many liberties with the truth.(I often wonder what Donald Morris thought of the film, if he ever saw it) Did most people come to this website via the film Zulu?
DateReplies
27th February 2004John Young
Steven,

I did certainly, but now I dismiss it as pure, but entertaining, drivel.

Please don't put me in your 'serious historians' bracket, for I'm certainly not that, nor would I claim to be.

John Y.
27th February 2004Steven Etchells
John
Shame on you, for referring to 'Zulu' as drivel, it elevated Boys Own angst to an art form. I have just finished reading Adrian Greaves's book Rorke's Drift. I didn't realise that Bromhead did come from the aristocracy. I also remember reading an account of how Fred Hitch wrote to his brother saying he thought he had died during the night. Which would explain the joke about Hitch at the end of the film when they are calling the roll.I am surprised at how many minor references the film makes to the real events.
27th February 2004Diana Blackwell
I came to th\is website (and the topic of the Anglo-Zulu War generally) because of "Zulu".
Donald Morris did see "Zulu" because he made a couple of specific comments about it in a letter to me in '67 or '68. He said he thought the early scenes with the wedding dance were "unnecessarily horsed-up." He also said, "the moviemakers hit the nail pretty much on the head with Hook, who was something of a juvenile delinquent" (based, as I recall, on interviews with John Williams's descendents).
27th February 2004Steven Etchells
Diana
Thanks for your comments, it is interesting what you say about Hook.As I say there are a lot of minor references to real life in the film.
27th February 2004John Young
Steven,

Once again might I suggest a site search before singing the praises of Dr. Greaves' 'Rorke's Drift', too loudly. But then I'm not a historian, and the doctor is.

John Y.
27th February 2004Steven Etchells
John
Can you tell me how I do a site search?
27th February 2004Steven Etchells
John
Can you tell me how I do a site search?
27th February 2004Diana Blackwell
Stephen, you're welcome. Morris made one other comment. In response to some things I had said in praise of the film's portrayal of Hook, Morris wrote, "I know what you mean about Hook"--meaning, I think, that he too enjoyed the characterization.
27th February 2004Diana Blackwell
Whoops--that should have been Steven. Sorry.
27th February 2004Diana Blackwell
Whoops--that should have been Steven. Sorry.
27th February 2004John Young
Steven,

Go to the site's home page, scroll all the way down, and there it is a search which permits either a search on the web, or on the site.

Just feed it the information, and it will give you the results.

John Y.
27th February 2004Andrew Holliday
I watched Zulu when it was on t.v. I was seven years old and lads of seven like to a film with plenty of action and heroic deeds. Zulu is a film it isn't a documentary. It is there for entertainment. But it is quite accurate in some places, remember this was a film that was made in the 60's and they did not have the knowledge of the battle as people of today have. So for the generation when it was made I think it was quite accurate, of course it has its mistakes but which, historical film hasn't?
27th February 2004Sheldon Hall
Good on you, Andrew!
27th February 2004James Garland
Steven,
I saw Zulu for the first time when I was 10 years old and I was hooked. I t may not be strictly accurate but it has atmosphere.
Does anyone on this site recall a series on TV in the 1960s called the Regiment. It was about a Regiment stationed on the North West Frontier and it was real "Boys Own" stuff. I would love to see a remake of the series in colour.

James
27th February 2004John Young
James,

There were two series that I remember, like yourself 'The Regiment', which had Christopher Cazenove in it - later to portray Lt. Coghill, and later still Lord Chelmsford.

The other was 'Frontier' with Gary Bond - Private Cole from 'Zulu', playing a young lieutenant on the North-West Frontier.

John Y.
28th February 2004David Alan Gardner
John,

Just happened to check up on Gary Bond yesterday-sadly no longer with us
28th February 2004Peter Ewart
Steven

As Diana has indicated, Morris was certainly familiar with ZULU. In the interview he gave Ian Knight three years ago, he said (in answer to a question as to whether he "liked" ZULU & Zulu Dawn):

"ZULU, despite liberties taken with the historical record (and a rather silly opening sequence at King Cetshwayo's homestead) is extraordinarily faithful to the spirit of what happened at Rorke's Drift, with tremendous dramatic impact. "Zulu Dawn" is actually more faithful to the historical record - but tends to be confusing, with troops and Zulus trotting and running over a large amount of real estate."

Incidentally, I'd hardly say that Bromhead came from an aristocratic family. Provincial gentry, perhaps, with a long tradition of providing the British Army with officers, but that would apply to many families whose men held commissions. There were a few officers who served in the AZW and came from titled families - minor aristocracy if you like - but I'd expect the large majority of officers to be much closer to Bromhead's background. I haven't checked right now (someone can correct me if necessary) but I think he attended Newark Grammar. If this was a public school at that time, I suspect it waa a very minor one.

Peter
28th February 2004Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
When I think of the pleasure that collecting and shooting Martinis has given me
I thank Stanley Baker.
When I think of the pleasure I get from reading about this fascinating period of history.
I thank Stanley Baker.
When I think of the pleasure I get from corresponding with like minded people.
I thank Stanley Baker.
Zulu may not have been 100% accurate but it fired my imagination like no other film since.
Thank you Mr Baker.
29th February 2004Melvin Hunt
I first saw Zulu on its original release back in the 60's and was then hooked on a life long passion. Over the years I, along with most other enthusiasts, realised that it contained many historical errors. The point is that it didn't matter. In fact they helped to make the film the inspiration that it was. I cannot understand why certain people will not seperate entertainment from historical documentary. There's even one contributor currently on another thread who wants to see "Allen" portrayed by a shorter actor!
John,
"Entertaining" the film certainly is, but "drivel"? Is that your summation of Stanley Baker,s efforts?
I thinkk that Barry has said it all.
29th February 2004Julian Whybra
No, not through the film, Steven, through a book CT Binns's The Last Zulu King read whilst having appendicitis aged 10 (me, not the appendix - though come think of it, both of us...).
Wait, Bromhead! An arostocrat! No! Where did you get that from? Rot!
29th February 2004John Young
Melvin,

Yes, in my opinion, it is drivel. After I made the above comment I sat down to watch again, but it was like a chore. Now I can tell the difference between entertainment and documentary, and I had to force myself to watch it. I got as far as "I belong to the Natal Mounted Police." I thought I've suffered enough and turned it off. This once boyhood friend of mine, had become tired and was an unwelcome guest on my screen.

Frankly I would not like to see a re-make per se of it either. What I would like to see would a treatment of the story on much the same lines as 'Son of the Morning Star', which although based on a novel, at least adheres somewhat more to the facts surrounding Custer and the Little Big Horn, far better than say 'They Died with their Boots On' or 'Custer of the West'.

John Y.
29th February 2004Diana Blackwell
I find it curious that some viewers are so disturbed by "Zulu"'s historical inaccuracies that they can't enjoy the film as film. Such viewers are entitled to their opinion, of course...but what if we evaluated Shakespeare's history plays that way? Many of them are loosely based on real events, but they aren't particularly faithful to the facts, nor was Shakespeare even very interested in the facts. Though he used history as a source of inspiration, his goals and values were artistic...which is why we still enjoy his plays today.
29th February 2004Melvin Hunt
John,
I have to agree with you that to watch it in its entirity as a film these days can be a bit of a chore. However, that's not because of the historical errors but because I am so familiar with it. That doesn't detract from what the film has meant to me.
The reason that I asked you the question was because I seemed to recall you telling me once that the film started your interest in the subject and I was genuinely surprised to see you use the word "drivel."
29th February 2004John Young
Melvin,

Like yourself that was forty years ago, times change, tastes change, yes it was an inspiration to me, but other things inspire me now.

Many years ago I sold off my collection of material from 'Zulu' & 'Zulu Dawn', just to concentrate on collecting material on the actual campaign. Now rather than a lobby card or a poster, I'll chase an original photograph of Fort Pearson, say, or a book in a language that I can't even read just because it has got something I haven't seen before.

I've moved on from the movie myth, last month their was a young Welsh lad in the audience of one of my talks, at the end I could see he was upset. When asked him what was wrong? He answered "You said it wasn't a Welsh regiment, but my film is was." I'd shattered that kid's idea of the truth. A truth based on Cy Endfield & Stanley Baker's rendering of the tale, which is a nonsense of the truth.

It is a great pity that cancer robbed of us of the then Sir Stanley Baker, for I would have dearly have loved to have seen his version of events at Isandlwana. Or listened to him or Cy Endfield on a commentary for a dvd of 'Zulu'.

Like yourself, I'm so familiar with the film, but may be that familiarity has bred contempt.

John Y.
29th February 2004Melvin Hunt
John
What is Son of the Morning Star?
29th February 2004Peter Ewart
Like many others, I saw it in the spring of '64 (aged nearly 14) after seeing Stanley Baker plug it on TV and all the cinema trailers - & found it spellbinding. Then, like Julian, I immediately found Binns' work (as well as a small popular work by Rupert Furneaux) and borrowed them both from the local library repeatedly. The historical discrepancies were immediately obvious but did not detract at that time from the sheer atmosphere of the film.

In my youth, no other film came near it and it ruined me as a cinema-goer for the rest of my life, as nothing would ever equal it. I travelled miles on hard-earned pocket money just to see it when I learned it may be showing within 60 miles or so - all this in my teens on public transport, when I continued to attend the cinema, although for years I rarely met anyone with a similar opinion and I'm sure I sometimes invited ridicule when offering an opinion on it. It certainly hadn't yet become a cult film, as far as I could see!

Saw it around a dozen times in the 60s and once in the early 70s, all on the big screen of course. Have since seen it just once on video and of course it is simply not the same. Needs to be at the flicks. I think this goes some way towards re-adjusting one's opinion.

Another thing is, as John says, one grows up a bit and also tends to be a bit fussy with the historical liberties - but I do think this should not detract from what was, as an entertainment film based on a true occurrence, an absolute blockbuster at the time and a film which has stood the test of time since.

For me, there were several high quality performances (shame about Caine as Bromhead, but never mind) and some stunning scenery shots (very important for ther atmosphere and "mystery") as well as the very best bits of all - the dancing at the beginning. My 13-year old eyes must have resembled Miss Witt's, although purely because of the rhythm and the music, of course!

One thing which also surprised me when seeing it on the small screen after 30 years, was the three or four long scenes of silence within the barricades the just before the battle, which impressed me as part of the concentrated tension 40 years ago but seemed a bit long and stilted now.

But if you've seen it as many as some of you lot have, then familiarity will surely breed contempt as JY says, and it will become hard work. Or perhaps not?

Peter

P.S. On my only trip (so far) to RSA, one of the small party at RD of which I was a member had never seen the film.
1st March 2004Edward Garcia
“Son of the Morning Star” is the title of the book by Evan S. Connell about the life of George Armstrong Custer that was made into a film in 1991. The name Son of the Morning Star was a name given to Custer by the Plains Indians because of his blond hair I believe.
1st March 2004Martin Heyes
I would like (unashamedly) to add my name to the long list of those who watched this film as a young lad, (in my case aged 11), at their local cinema - and from that point on developed a fascination with this campaign.

In fact I can well remember watching this film with my younger brother and my 2 (even younger) cousins - and when it finished making all 3 of them snuck down in their seats so we could immediately watch it a second time round! We exited the cinema to find 2 very frantic sets of parents waiting outside for their beloved offspring - and I received suitable punishment, I am sure!

But the fact remains that whilst much of the film is inaccurate - that in no way detracts from the impact it made (and continues to make) on so many of us.
I do not subscribe to the view that the film was made at a time when so much of what happened during the campaign and at RD was unknown to military historians. Of course that is true - historians are always finding out new facts, but what I mean is that I don't think a better knowlege of the actual events would have changed how the directors made the film. Would they have portrayed Hook as anything other than a rascal? I doubt it! After all, it wasn't as if NOTHING was known of the battle in 1964, was it? I believe they achieved what they set out to do - make a rattling good film of a true incident - but NOT an accurate documentary!
(That is best left to the History/Discovery channels of much later).
Martin Heyes
1st March 2004Julian Whybra
For once, JY, thou and I must disagree. Zulu is a very good film, warts and all, and still serves to boost Martin's Museum visitor numbers. Film is what it is after all, just a film for entertainment, not documentary (and those are bad enough when they're attempted). It gives a flavour of the time and the events and those that become 'hooked' (forgive the pun) can attend Chatham events, join the AZWRS, or latch on to this website, and that's no bad thing.
1st March 2004Sheldon Hall
I'm glad so many other people have rushed to ZULU's defence! The stories told here about the impact this "contemptible little film" has made on its viewers over the last 40 years are echoed in countless other contributions to this forum and to the guest-book on this site. I submit that any film which has had the influence ZULU has had, stimulating in so many people a serious interest in the battle, the war and history in general (surely more than could reasonably be demanded of any film?) could not fairly be described as "drivel" - especially not by one who, by his own admission, has benefited from that influence. To do so seems, at best, ungrateful, at worst - well, I'll leave that to others to say. Without the film, it seems to me, we would not have this website at all (Alan and Peter, correct me if I'm wrong) and John would not have his scholarship to contribute to it.

What saddens me is that he (and, I'm sure, many other sticklers for documentary "truth") apparently cannot conceive of a respectable middle ground between the extremes of, on the one hand, absolute historical authenticity (in its literal sense impossible for any film or dramatic representation of a historical event) and, on the other, mere drivel - "just" entertaining, perhaps, but not to be taken seriously. I respectfully suggest that films (and novels, and plays, and poems, and paintings) on historical subjects CAN be taken seriously: as ART or, if the word embarrasses you, entertainment, which need not be trivial, and can be inspiring as well as amusing.

Rigid adherence to the facts, only the facts and all the facts (again, simply not possible, no matter how large the budget or meticulous the research) matters less in art than the creative impulse, as shown by generations of artists inspired by historical events, from Homer to Shakespeare and beyond. One doesn't have to see Stanley Baker as being on the same elevated level as these figures to agree that he (and Cy Endfield and John Prebble - Barry take note when you're giving thanks!) should enjoy the same artistic privileges: to interpret and re-imagine the facts, not just record them. Let the historians do their job and set the record straight where needed, but let them also respect artists for doing theirs.
1st March 2004Martin Everett
Dear Sheldon,
There is no doubt that 'Zulu' has created a phenomenon. The characters and the action have become real to so many people. It is like a 'soap' that is being watched every day - the characters portrayed become 'real' people in viewers' minds. Often the truth - actually the true Frank Bourne was not like Nigel Green - is not acceptable. They want to believe that Nigel Green was the Colour Sergeant at Rorke's Drift because they have seen the film many times. There are few films that have created this phenomenon - except perhaps some of the WW2 British films.
1st March 2004Sheldon Hall
Martin,
I know what you mean about many people preferring to believe the film rather than the history. That has a lot to do with the naivete of much of the general public, which cannot distinguish a dramatic representation from the thing itself (the reverse side of the coin to those who think a pure documentary approach is acceptable - an equally naive view, in my opinion). The fact that ZULU has created such myths is a tribute to its power and hold on the imagination, and I don't see that its makers can be blamed for their own success and talent. They may have created a false impression in many people's minds, but without it most of those same people would not know about Rorke's Drift at all. If they are inspired to any deeper interest, they will surely come to learn more (as I did). And if ZULU had got all the facts right, what would there be left for historians and other experts to do?!
1st March 2004John Young
Sheldon,

But you are viewing this through some soft focus lens of an academic who is viewing this as an art form. Not a disinterested academic either, but someone with a vested interest with a forthcoming book on the subject.

I, on the other hand, see the film for what it is heavily diluted fact-based drama. I quote a comment you made in reply to another posting where you state: '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.' How can you as an academic make such a statement? It was totally revelant, and certainly not minor that Frederick Hitch V.C. was shot in the right shoulder, and the bone smashed into thirty-nine pieces. This evidence was not unknown, even in 1963 when the film was in production, yet we see the Hitch character wounded in the leg.

Talking of nonsense, in the commentary of the dvd, in which you discuss the making of the film with Robert Porter. We hear Robert making reference to Shaka sending his people to Ladysmith to watch the British troops drilling with their bayonets, and you allow his speech to go on without once questioning the comment. Could you now answer my question, how could Shaka have sent anyone to Ladysmith? Given the fact that he died in 1828, and that Sir Harry, and his wife, Lady Smith, didn't venture into Natal until 1848, and the town would not bear her name until July of 1850! Someone has blundered, and it ain't me!

I have only listened to the commentary once, silly matters of fact jar with me - for example it was Prince Buthelezi's mother, not his wife, that was the granddaughter of King Cetshwayo kaMpande.

Give those points I think I should go and listen carefully to the commentary, agian. Here's hoping that there aren't many more ill-informed comments, which really are 'completely irrelevant'.

John Y.

2nd March 2004James Garland
Folks,

It could be worse. What if they hadn't made Zulu at all !!!!

James
2nd March 2004David Alan Gardner
I must have been 5 in 1964 when Zulu when my friend and I went to see the film, don't think anybody here can beat that!

I still remember the amazement when I saw the thousands of Zulus on the hillside -ok we now know about the card board cut outs, but so what?
I remember the roars of the audience when Schiess gets into action, they thought obviously this was about the best part.

When the film finished, my friend and I hid down low in the seat so that the usheretts with their torches could not see us, then we watched it all over again.
Believe it or not, we tried the same trick to try and watch it again but got spotted by an usher and chucked out!
2nd March 2004David Aln Gardner
Just thinking, if Zulu was made in 1964, perhaps it wasn't in the cinema in the UK until 1965?, in which case I was 6!
2nd March 2004John Young
David,

It was made in 1963, released on 22nd January, 1964, so revert to your original conclusion.

John Y.
2nd March 2004John Young
Steven,

You should really read what Dr Samuel Johnson said in full, before you paraphrase him. - 'Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ James Boswell, 'The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D.'

By my own confession I'm no intellectual, nor have I any delusion of being one either.

Abandon the movie myth, seek the truth.

From someone who has seen a Zulu walking in the City Road, and then watched him carry on into Pentonville Road!

John Y.
2nd March 2004David Alan Gardner
John,

Thanks for that wasn't quite sure.

Well you can imagine the impression a film like Zulu made on an infant-mum-why did you let me go to the pictures so young to see a film like Zulu???

Things were different then suppose.
2nd March 2004Sheldon Hall
John,

Soft-focus lens, eh? Funny, a similar analogy occurred to me: that you are now watching the film with vision befogged by facts, and can't see the drama for the history!

Why shouldn't I see film as an art form? I have more than a vested interest in defending ZULU: it is the cinema in general that concerns me, personally and professionally. Cinema is both an art form and a medium of communication; both a commercialised industry and a medium of personal expression. A sophisticated view needs to hold all these things in balance. It seems to me that you neglect such diverse aspects in favour of seeing film simply as a vehicle for own area of concern and despising it when it fails to meet what I see as inappropriate standards (so you are not exactly disinterested either).

I hold to my statement about the irrelevance of minor facts. The location of a wound and the number of bones broken, while obviously a matter of concern to Hitch himself and of interest to collectors of such facts, is certainly of little consequence in relation to the broader concerns of history. The serious historian in any field is properly concerned with the relative significance of facts and their place in the bigger picture. An academic interest in, say, the causes and effects of the Anglo-Zulu War, the place of Rorke's Drift in that affair, the strategy and conduct of the battle, and so on would have little use for such minor matters, though obviously a scruplulous historian would try to get them right if they were to be mentioned in passing. But the makers of ZULU were not historians and, whether based in fact or not, the film is not a historical documentary but a work of drama. For its purposes, it simply does not matter who was shot where.

On a more general point, there is a great danger of making a fetish of facts for their own sake, and becoming so preoccupied with them that the larger questions are left out. I say all this as a film historian, not a military historian (which I am not). You are however quite right to identify errors made in the audio commentary, which as a non-specialist in South African history I was not in a position to correct. I'll be happy to receive any further corrections to ensure that no errors of this kind creep into my forthcoming book (though Shaka and the pre-history of the A-Z War will not be relevant to it). I have, however, since done more research on Chief Buthelezi's family connections so with good luck and judgement I shouldn't embarrass myself in that quarter!
2nd March 2004John Young
Sheldon,

The problem I have is that for the past 32 years I have done a job, where only the facts matter, so may be that clouds my judgement.

Here's one thing, as a tit-bit, to save you further embarrassment, it is His Royal Highness Prince Buthelezi. The title 'Chief' is a throwback to the 'old regime' when according to the then South African Government there was no king of the amaZulu, only a 'Paramount Chief', and that had nothing to do with the studio whatsoever.

If you want to run your manuscript past me for historical content, I'd be happy to oblige.

'Zulu' as an art form? Come on we're not talking about an Akira Kurosawa or Sergei Eisenstein, but Cy Endfield. Look at his track record 'Hell Drivers' is hardly 'Kagemusha', or 'Mysterious Island' (another John Prebble collaboration) is not quite on a par with 'Aleksandr Nevsky'. But I'm no film historian, nor, for that matter, am I a military historian, just an interested amateur.

John Y.
3rd March 2004Martin Heyes
To David Alan Gardner
So I wasn't the only one then!
(My post of March 1st refers)
But I beat you 4 -2 according to my maths..
3rd March 2004Neil Aspinshaw
Steven
yep, I am guilty of falling into the Zulu film addiction. My son who is 8 is also a disciple.
I have converted half the Nags Head pub in Sawley to Zulu converts!.
Neil
3rd March 2004John Young
Sheldon,

Can you identify the photograph on the back of the box of the Special Collectors Edition of the dvd? Or they the Zulu extras in pre-production, or is it just someone's snap of some Zulus?

John Y.
3rd March 2004Sheldon Hall
John,

I will check out the photo on the DVD box asap. I used the title Chief Buthelezi because that is how he is credited in the film; I'm aware of his current title(s). As for Cy's track record, I strongly recommend two excellent films he made in America in 1950: THE SOUND OF FURY and THE UNDERWORLD STORY. Also his and Stanley Baker's last collaboration, the underrated SANDS OF THE KALAHARI (1965). The point is not that he is as good an artist as (say) Eisenstein or Kurosawa, but that he is an artist nonetheless and deserves, in principle, the same creative privileges. As it happens, I much prefer ZULU to ALEXANDER NEVSKY, a most overrated film I think. Mind you, I prefer ZULU to most things...

Ever the pedant, I decided to do a bit more research on references to the location and extent of Hitch's wound. With the aid of Alan Baynham Jones and Lee Stevenson's indispensable recent book "Rorke's Drift: By Those Who Were There" it took me about 15 minutes to establish that I'm apparently not the only one to consider its precise details to be of minor interest. Neither Chard nor Bromhead mentions them in their accounts of the battle; nor do any of the other defenders, with the sole exception of Hitch himself (as you might expect). I then checked John Prebble's research notes, his published article and several drafts of the screenplay. In none of these is the location of the wound mentioned either (doubtless a reflection of his sources). No, not even in the shooting script: the specifics of the wounding, and Hitch's cry "Me leg!", were evidently improvised during filming (ditto Corporal Allen's wounding - and yes, I know about the continuity error there).

I'm not sure what this proves, except that some facts are more important than others! My guess is that it was decided that one man's wound should be in the leg and the other's in the shoulder for the sake of simple contrast.

Sheldon
3rd March 2004Sheldon Hall
John,

I've just had a look at the DVD jacket. The right-hand still on the back seems to include a few civilians at the far right (of the picture, not politically), so it may be either a costume fitting or a rehearsal for the wedding dance sequence. Astonishing that I'd never noticed this before - thanks for bringing it to my attention.

SH
3rd March 2004John Young
Sheldon,

A couple of the 'warriors' appear to be wearing either SADF or SAP caps as well, I don't know when these caps were first introduced. Personally I think the photograph is a very recent one, rather than 1963, as there are a couple of pairs of what appear to be Nike trainers in the shot.

There's not much in Lee & Alan's recent book, but check out Lee's 'The Rorke's Drift Doctor' re-Hitch.

Better than 'Aleksandr Nevsky', they're not lenses - they're blinkers!

I'm surprised you didn't mention 'Untamed' on the commentary either, could have drawn some parallels there with the attack on the wagon laager.

John Y.
3rd March 2004Ian Essex
It has been interesting to read the above thread and think that both 'sides' eg: for and against can be very persuasive.
I for one would have loved to have seen an extremely accurate version of the film. But I still belive that for all it's faults Zulu remains one of the finest examples of it's genre produced.
For those that may not know, when watching a film, any film, 99.99% of scenes exist to move the plot forward. There is always a purpose to a scene to advance the action. That is why you do not see films with people chatting about nothing with nothing going on. To that end, any film representing a true story such as Zulu will not cover everything that happened or everbody, because it does not move the action on. Some very obvious scenes that you would think should be included may not make the final cut because they slow the pace down or do not fit into the structure. An example of this would be A Bridge too Far, where William Goldman, the scriptwriter, decided that he could not include any of the Victoria Crosses awarded during that battle because it didn't fit in the narrative. A bad thing some may say, but he still manages to convey the bravery of the battle, therefore making the showing of people actually winning Victoria Crosses irrelivant for that purpose. So some of the characters in Zulu will not be featured as there, to some degree, is no point in showing them. It was John Prebbles script so he decided on which characters and situations he used, not us, we didn't write it! Someone elses take would probably focus on other people.
Ammunition Smith would have made it into my script and the wounds would have been as accurate as possible. I do not find Hitch's leg wound as dramatic as a shoulder wound would have been. I admit that sometimes Zulu is like watching a Second World War movie when the Allied soldiers prepare for the German tanks rumbling toward them, and over the crest of the hill comes half a dozen American Sherman tanks with German crosses painted on them, but it doesn't ruin the movie for me. It has what I believe to be the flavour of those two days so therefore to me it is a true artistic interpretation of the events.
The passion and the art are there for everyone to see on the screen, and like a painting you hang on the wall to view for many years to look at, Zulu stands repeated viewing which it sounds like we all do!
Perhaps now may be the time for Peter and Alan to add/extend the popular myths section and have a real versus inaccurate section based on the film. This may blow the illusion far a lot of people but then I think we are all here to learn and we could probably get over it!
I have also realised that I may be posting this on the wrong thread but I'm not retyping so here it will stay.
4th March 2004James Garland
John,
We both do the same job where only the facts matter. But you, like me, must have gone to court on some occasions and given the facts only to see them disected and studied in such minute detail by lawyers that the essence of what happened is lost. I think Zulu does the opposite andcaptures the essence of the defence despite getting the details wrong.

James
4th March 2004Leigh Tarrant
Going back to the first question of this epic sojourn (!) Even the great ian knight came to be the great Zulu historian through the film "Zulu"...........

Incidently, the best place to of ever seen "Zulu"...wasn't at its earliest showings in London, but the re release in 1972 at the Casino Cinemrama in Old Compton ST, London........A very WIDE experience indeed!!! Even with
the films soundtrack playing quietly in the background as you walked in and found your seat..... People came for miles around to see it......think it ran for a couple of months too.
5th March 2004George Smith
As I have now put my 'Zulu Dawn' Out-Takes
On DVD. I take it you don't want a copy John.
5th March 2004John Young
"Smiffy",

Why don't you do a bloopers version of those - how many times does a certain actor die? To cap it all his death happens at Rorke's Drift as well!

But you're right George, I'll pass on those, thanks.

John Y.
6th March 2004David Alan Gardner
Martin Heyes,
Well you might have done on the day, but I was back te following week anyway to see it again
In any case , I must have been one of the youngest to see Zulu on film for the first time!
:-)
8th March 2004Dennis Tselentis
Speaking of inconsistencies in the movie........ Corporal Allen gets shot in the right shoulder.......yet when he arrises the wound is his left shoulder !!!
15th March 2004Tom Aitken
I am a 40 year-old American, and over the years I have probably seen Zulu at least 30 times. I even own it on dvd. Sure, Lt. Chard is seen building a bridge one-hundred feet upstream from a natural river crossing, and the casual observer leaves the movie wondering if 800, 1000, 1200, or 1500 men met their fate at Isandlwana. I'm not disputing these or any other "bloopers" in the film. To me, this is a story that has to be told: it is right below David's victory over Goliath and far more important than Villanova beating Georgetown--against all odds--in our NCAA basketball championship back in the '80's.

Zulu is an awe aspiring movie, and nobody can deny the extreme acts of courage that took place over those two days. Breaker Morant is another fabulous film in which the "poetic license" may have been taken too far, but it, too, has spawned much legend and debate over the years. Without either of these films, the defenders of Rourke's Drift and the Bushveldt Carbineers would be forgotten men outside of a very small academic community, and that would be a great pity.

In terms of courage under fire, Rourke's Drift is similar to our Alamo. I don't want to take anything away from Travis, Crockett, and the others, but of the two outmanned forces I have mentioned, it was the British who actually managed to claim victory. I know very little else about the Zulu War or whether or not it should be condoned, but without the movie, 150 heroes simply doing their job would be forgotten men. Thank you Mr. Baker!
8th June 2004Phil Pearce
I came Here 'cos My great grand dad had the V.C at Rorkes Drift Not because of some film