Zulu (film)


Zulu (film)

Infobox Film
name = Zulu


iamge_size = 215px
caption = original film poster
director = Cy Endfield
producer = Stanley Baker Cy Endfield
writer = John Prebble Cy Endfield
narrator = Richard Burton
starring = Stanley Baker Jack Hawkins Ulla Jacobsson James Booth Michael Caine
music = John Barry
cinematography = Stephen Dade
editing = John Jympson
distributor = Paramount Pictures "(non-US)"
Embassy Pictures "(US)"
released = 22 January fy|1964 "(UK)"
runtime = 139 minutes
country = United Kingdom
language = English
budget = US$2,000,000 [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/11/18/zulu_1964_dvd_review.shtml BBC - Films - review - Zulu DVD] , BBC, accessed 30 April 2007.]
gross =
followed_by = "Zulu Dawn"
website =
imdb_id = 0058777

"Zulu" is a fy|1964 historical war film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War. The film was directed by blacklisted American screenwriter [Stafford, Jeff [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=96684&category=Articles "Zulu" (TCM article)] ] Cy Endfield and produced by Stanley Baker and Endfield, with Joseph E. Levine as executive producer. The screenplay is by John Prebble and Endfield, based on an article by Prebble, an historical writer. The music is by John Barry and the cinematography by Stephen Dade. The film stars Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, in his first starring role, with a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Nigel Green, Paul Daneman, Glynn Edwards and Patrick Magee. The opening and closing narration is spoken by Richard Burton. The film was made by Diamond Films, Stanley Baker's newly-formed production company, and distributed by Paramount Pictures in all countries except the United States, where it was distributed by Embassy Pictures.

The film was compared by Baker to a Western movie, with the traditional roles of the United States Cavalry and Native Americans taken by the British and the Zulus respectively. The film acknowledges the Zulus' bravery. Director Endfield showed a Western to Zulu extras to demonstrate the concept of film acting and how he wanted the warriors to conduct themselves.

Most of the characters in the film were based on actual participants of the battle, but their behaviour is mostly fictional – something that has provoked disapproval: in an interview on the DVD, the descendants of Private Hook object to his negative portrayal in the film (he is depicted as a thief and malingerer, though his character acts bravely near the end of the movie during some desperate fighting). Indeed, Hook's elderly daughters walked out of the film's 1964 London premiere, angry at the way their father had been depicted.

A prequel, "Zulu Dawn", about the Battle of Isandhlwana which immediately preceded the Battle of Rorke's Drift, was released in fy|1979. It was also written by Cy Endfield, and starred Burt Lancaster and Peter O'Toole.

Plot

In 1879, a communiqué from British South Africa to the government in London, narrated by Richard Burton, details the crushing defeat of a British force at the hands of the Zulus at the Battle of Isandhlwana. The first scene shows a grassy landscape with many dead British soldiers, while victorious Zulus gather their weapons.

A mass Zulu marriage ceremony witnessed by missionary Otto Witt (Jack Hawkins), his daughter (Ulla Jacobsson) and Zulu King Cetshwayo (Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi) is interrupted by a messenger who informs Cetshwayo of the great victory earlier in the day.

The movie then shifts to the missionary station of Rorke's Drift in Natal, being used by the British army as a supply dump and hospital for their now-defeated invasion force across the border in Zululand. The commanders of the depot, Lieutenants John Chard (Stanley Baker) and Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine), receive news of Isandhlwana and that a large enemy force is advancing their way. Realising that they cannot outrun the Zulu army, especially with wagonloads of wounded soldiers, the commanders decide to fortify the station, using wagons, sacks of mealie, and crates of ship's biscuit, and await the assault. As the Zulu "impis" approach, soldiers of the Natal Native Contingent and British settlers flee the site. Zulu sharpshooters open fire on the station from a neighbouring hill. Over the next few hours, the main Zulu body launches wave after wave of attacks, which are repulsed, though the attackers succeed in setting fire to the hospital, leading to intense fighting between British patients and Zulu warriors as the former try to escape the flames. Attacks continue into the night, finally forcing the British to withdraw into a tiny redoubt built from supply crates and mealie bags.

The next morning, at dawn, the Zulus withdraw several hundred yards and begin singing a war chant; the British respond by singing "Men of Harlech". After a last failed assault, in which the defenders form into three ranks and pour volley after volley into the Zulus, they withdraw after sustaining heavy casualties and sing a song to honour the bravery of the British defenders, and leave. The film ends with a narration by Richard Burton, listing defenders who received the Victoria Cross-- including Private Hook. Eleven were awarded for the actual fighting at Rorke's Drift, the most ever for a regiment in a single battle in British military history.

Cast

*Stanley Baker as Lieutenant John Chard. An officer of the Royal Engineers, Chard assumes command of the mission station and organises its fortification and defence.
*Michael Caine as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. A conceited and somewhat arrogant man, Bromhead, a young infantry officer, is first seen hunting cheetahs on the veld. He initially clashes with Lt. Chard, but soon accepts Chard's leadership. Bromhead initially appears panicked, criticising his African troops and arguing with Chard, but displays personal bravery during the battle and eventually realizes how much he and the men need Chard.
*Jack Hawkins as Reverend Otto Witt. A Swedish missionary based at Rorke's Drift, Witt is first seen with his adult daughter Margaret at King Cetshwayo's kraal in the capital, Ulundi. When news of the Zulu victory at Isandhlwana reaches Ulundi, the Witts flee in their carriage to Rorke's Drift. When Lt. Chard denies him permission to evacuate the wounded on wagons, Witt breaks down and incites the British garrison's African allies to flee. When his interference becomes too much of a hazard, Chard has Witt and his hysterical daughter bundled onto their carriage and driven away from the battlefield.
*James Booth as Private Henry Hook. Described as"a thief, a coward, and an insubordinate barrack-room lawyer", Hook is a roguish character feigning illness in order to avoid work, where he is constantly tormented by his ill, delirious sergeant. Despite his apparent cowardice, Hook is rebellious enough to criticise the British Empire's foreign policy: "Did I ever see a Zulu walk down The City Road? No. So what am I doing here?" and insolent enough to insult and manhandle his ailing, intermittently-conscious sergeant. During the battle for the hospital, Hook displays great courage in trying to rescue that same sergeant, and although he is unable to save him, Hook earns his sergeant's respect. His friends nickname him "Hookie."
*Nigel Green as Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne. A loud, burly sergeant, Bourne is a key character in the fortification of the station, using his immense strength to assist with the fortifications, and displays immense personal courage during the battle. He is very by-the-book. He frequently says "All right, nobody told you to stop working!" whenever the soldiers are idle. (Green and Caine appeared in a number of films and TV episodes together. In this film, Green was Caine's subordinate, but in "The Ipcress File" and "Play Dirty", he was Caine's superior.)
*Glynn Edwards as Corporal William Allen, portrayed as a model soldier. He is one of the defenders in the battle of the hospital.
*Ivor Emmanuel as Private Owen. A charismatic Welshman, Owen is immensely fond of singing (a baritone himself) and is very popular in the ranks. He is a great friend of Private Thomas, whom he affectionately calls Tommy. Owen leads the men to sing "Men of Harlech", the song originally featured in his choir.
*Neil McCarthy as Private John Thomas. John misses his home in Meirioneth, notably his lake and his calf.
*Patrick Magee as Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds, the overworked doctor. Reynolds provides vital medical aid to wounded soldiers during the battle, despite a total lack of anaesthetics or antiseptics, using the church's altar as an operating table.
*Gert Van den Bergh as Lieutenant Josef Adendorff. An Afrikaner officer serving with the Natal Native Contingent and a survivor of the battle at Isandhlwana, Adendorff provides valuable advice to Chard on Zulu tactics and optimum defence tactics. Surprisingly, Adendorff vigorously defends the bravery and utility of the army's black soldiers after Bromhead's criticisms. Adendorff remains at Rorke's Drift throughout the battle, fighting alongside the British.
*Dickie Owen as Corporal Schiess. An Afrikaner corporal in the Natal Native Contingent

Production

"Zulu" was made at Twickenham Film Studios, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK and on location in South Africa, at Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, and the national parks of KwaZulu-Natal. The Super Technirama 70 cinematographic process was used.

Michael Caine, who at this time in his career was primarily playing bit parts, was originally up for the role of Private Henry Hook, which went to James Booth. According to Caine, he was extremely nervous during his screen test for the part of Bromhead, and director Cy Endfield told him that it was the worst screen test he had ever seen, but they were casting Caine in the part anyway because the production was leaving for South Africa shortly and they hadn't found anyone else for the role.

Caine's performance in "Zulu" won him praise from reviewers, and his next film role would be as the star of "The Ipcress File" in which he was reunited with Nigel Green.

Historical inaccuracies

Although writer Cy Endfield consulted with a Zulu tribal historian for information from Zulu oral tradition about the attack, a number of historical inaccuracies in the film have been noted.

Awards and honours

"Zulu" received no Academy Award nominations, but Ernest Archer was nominated for a BAFTA Award for "Best Colour Art Direction" on the film. In fy|2004, however, the magazine "Total Film" named "Zulu" the 37th greatest British movie of all time, and it was voted eighth in the British television programme "The 100 Greatest War Films". [ [http://www.channel4.com/film/newsfeatures/microsites/W/greatest_warfilms/results/100-96.html 100 Greatest War Films] ]

Rights

In the US, "Zulu" officially lapsed into the public domain, meaning there have been several issues of the film on home video/LaserDisc/DVD in North America — most notably an LD release by the Criterion Collection which retains the original stereophonic soundtrack and taken from a 70mm print. An official DVD release (with a mono soundtrack as the original stereo tracks were not available) was later issued by Embassy's successor-in-interest, StudioCanal (with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer handling video distribution). StudioCanal (the current owner of the Embassy theatrical library) had acquired US control of the film in 2000 after its copyright was restored. Outside the USA, the film has always been owned by Paramount Pictures.

Merchandising

* A soundtrack album by John Barry featuring one side of film score music and one side of "Zulu Stamp" music was released on the Ember Records in the UK and United Artists Records outside the Commonwealth
* A comic book by Dell Publishing was released to coincide with the film that features scenes and stills not in the completed film
* Conte toy soldier playsets decorated with artwork and stills from the film were produced.
* Though not advertised as a film tie in, in the United States in the mid 1960's, a child's toy blowgun the size of a ball point called a "Zulugun" was produced that shot plastic sticking darts that reportedly were often inhaled and swallowed. [http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/reprint/55/4/356-a.pdf]

In popular culture

* The "Battle of Helm's Deep" sequence in Peter Jackson's "" was filmed in a manner deliberately reminiscent of "Zulu", according to Jackson's comments in supplemental material included in the special extended DVD edition of "The Two Towers".
*The Germanic war chant in the battle scene at the beginning of Ridley Scott's film "Gladiator" is the Zulu war chant from "Zulu". In the video commentary, Scott revealed that "Zulu" was one of his favourite movies.
*The Battle of O'Rourke's Ford in S.M. Stirling's science fiction novel "On the Oceans of Eternity" is a recreation of the movie premise, right down to a malingering Private Hook.

ee also

*Zulu Dawn

References

Notes

Bibliography

* Hall, Dr Sheldon "Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It: The Making of the Epic Movie" 2005 Tomahawk Press

External links

*
*
*
* [http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com Rorke's Drift Victoria Cross remembrance site]
* [http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/191-HOMOEROTICISM-IN-ZULU-THE-ELEPHANT-IN-THE-ROOM.html#extended Homoeroticism in Zulu]
* [http://www.jamesbooth.org/reviews/zulu.htm Long review w/appendices at James Booth fansite]


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