you are currently viewing: The Film "Zulu"


Running time - 138 mins
Length of film - 12,494 feet
Certificate - "U"

Film review by Alan Critchley

A new Region 2 DVD was released in November, 2002. Click on the image on the left for details.

An excellent Michael Caine site
Another Zulu Movie Review...

The film 'Zulu' was made in 1964, starring Sir Stanley Baker as Chard, Sir Michael Caine as Bromhead. (although he was 'introduced', I personally know of three films, although I now understand there are seventeen, in which he appeared as an extra prior to 'Zulu'.) Jack Hawkins as Rev. Otto Witt, Ulla Jacobsson as Margareta Witt, Nigel Green as Colour Sergeant Bourne, James Booth as Pte. Hook,and Patrick Magee as Surgeon Reynolds.


The film which was co-produced by Sir Stanley Baker and Cy Endfield with music by John Barry (who also wrote music for the James Bond films) and it still remains to me one of the most dramatic and gripping films ever made. It evokes the best traditions of the British Army and the stuff of which legends are made. It features stunning scenery, filmed in the Natal National Park. The property master was John Poyner.
The film gives a good overall version of the events although the way they are portrayed in the film is not totally accurate. This doesn't detract from the impact of the film. The film does portray also the courage of the Zulus. It must have taken much for them to attack against a defended position, bare footed, and in many cases only armed with an assegai and a shield. It is unlikely that the weapons used against the defenders were taken from the dead at Isandhlwana since Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande and his regiment had not taken much part at Isandhlwana but wanted to have some glory.
Some details ought to be mentioned though. Rev. Witt was not a drunk. He, along with Rev. Smith (who did not feature in the film but played an important role) and Surgeon Reynolds went up to the Oskerberg (Shiyane Hill) to look out for the approaching Zulus. There were two parties who warned the post of the possible approach of the Zulus and told of the events at Isandhlwana. One reported to Chard at the river, the other, including Adendorff (Gert Van Der Berg), reported to Chard at the mission station. The command at the station was not decided between Chard and Bromhead on the basis of date of commission, it was decided by Capt. Spalding (Officer in command) before going to Helpmekaar, not before saying to Chard 'Which of you is senior, you or Bromhead?' Chard said 'I don't know.' Having then checked the army list Spalding said to Chard 'I see that you are senior, so you will be in charge. Of course, nothing will happen, and I shall be back again early this evening.'

The Natal Horse Contingent which arrived at Rorke's Drift from Isandhlwana were actually deployed for defence but thought that their position was useless and then withdrew.

Hook was portrayed in the film as a petty crook in the hospital scenes. Not a true representation of him although the film version seems to be an accurate portrayal of the events during the fight in the hospital. The evacuation was not totally true. When the patients emerged, they were subjected to rifle fire and assegai attacks in their withdrawal. At least one of them was killed on the journey to the inner defences.

Commissary Dalton (Dennis Folbigge) ('Pot that chap somebody!') was portrayed as a whimpish character. In reality, much of the success of the preparation for the defences was due to him, he being a long serving and experienced soldier.

The Native contingent (some 200 in number) deserted, ('They've hooked it... every one of 'em.') having helped to build the barricades. A British officer (Capt. Stevenson) and an NCO (Cpl. Anderson) deserted with them. The NCO was killed by one of the defenders while doing so, (some speculate it may have been by Hitch who was on on look-out duty on the hospital roof). Stevenson was later court-martialled and dismissed from the army.

Pte. Cole (Gary Bond) died in the hospital. ('Well he's a dead paperhanger now!'). In reality he was slaughtered or shot through the head (with some reports that the bullet then struck another defender on the nose).

The film also featured on the fact that it was a Welsh regiment. Although it was then based in Brecon in South Wales and called the 24th. Regiment of Foot (later to be the South Wales Borderers), it was formerly the Warwickshire Regiment. Many of the defenders had never been to Brecon. Of the 24th. Regt. at the defence, 49 were English, 16 Irish, 1 Scottish, 32 Welsh and 24 of other Nationalities. ('This is a Welsh regiment, although there are some foreigners in it in mind').

Despite many discrepancies, I still think the film ('movie' to our American friends) is the best ever. Following are some of the more memorable quotes from it:

The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day. (Chard)
Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast. (Bromhead)

Hot work? (Bromhead)
Damned hot work! (Chard).
Still, the river cooled you off a bit... Err... who said you could use my men? (Bromhead)
They were sitting around on their backsides doing nothing. (Chard)
...Rather you asked first old boy! I'll tell my man to clean your kit (Bromhead)
Don't bother (Chard)
No bother...not offering to clean it myself. Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men. (Bromhead)

Damn the levies man... Cowardly blacks! (Bromhead)

What the hell do you you mean, cowardly blacks? They died on your side didn't they? And who do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? The grenadier guards!? (Adendorff)

And what the deuce is the matter with him? (Bromhead to Chard)

To hold our ground? Which military genius thought that one up? Somebody's son and heir? Got a commission before he learned to shave? (Chard to Bromhead)

I rather fancy that he's nobody's son and heir now! (Bromhead)

It looks, er, jolly simple doesn't it? (Bromhead to Adendorff)
Jolly deadly old boy! (Adendorff)
Well done Adendorff, we'll make an Englishman of you yet! (Bromhead)
No thanks, I'm a Boer. The Zulus are the enemy of my blood, but what are you doing here? (Adendorff)
You don't object to our help I hope? (Bromhead)
It all depends on what you damned English want for it afterwards! (Adendorff)

Isn't this as good a place to be when a man is in pain? (Surgeon Reynolds)

A prayer is as good as a bayonet on a day like this. (CS Bourne to Witt)

And what for? Did I ever see a Zulu walk down the City Road? No! So what am I doing here? (Hook)

Al...right then! Nobody told you to stop workin' (CS Bourne)

They've hooked it! All 'ov 'em! (Anon)

Damned funny! Like a train in the distance. (Bromhead)

Never mind 'im boy. You get along to the ramparts with your mates. (then to Witt) Mr. Witt sir... be quiet now will you, there's a good gentleman, you'll upset the lads. (CS Bourne)
Death awaits you! You have made a covenant with death and with hell you are in agreement. You're all going to die! Don't you realise? Can't you see? You're all going to die! Die... Death awaits you all! Die... (Witt)
He's right! Why's it us eh? Why us? (Pte. Cole)
Because we're 'ere lad! Nobody else. Just us. (CS Bourne)
Careful! Pot that chap somebody! Good fellow, good fellow! (Dalton)

Mr. Chard Sir! Patrol has come back, Zulus have gone, all of 'em. It's a miracle! (Bourne to Chard)

If it's a miracle Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer Henry, point 4-5 caliber miracle. (Chard)

And a bayonet Sir! With some guts behind it! (CS Bourne)

Was that how it was for you? The first time? (Bromhead to Chard in the morning)

The first time? Do you think I could stand this butcher's yard more than once? (Chard)

I didn't know (Bromhead)

I told you. I came up here to build a bridge. (Chard)

Other Images:

Chard building the pontoon

Bromhead returning from hunting


Chard and Bromhead, discussing the plan

CS Bourne and Chard, as preparations are made

Otto Witt

The Zulus advance on the post

Chard and Bromhead, watching the deserters

Roll call after the battle

Chard and Bromhead survey the devastation

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