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Zulu Dawn [DVD]

Burt Lancaster , Peter O'Toole , Douglas Hickox    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Peter O'Toole, Simon Ward, John Mills, Nigel Davenport
  • Directors: Douglas Hickox
  • Producers: Nate Kohn
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Arrow
  • DVD Release Date: 27 April 2009
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001THPPC6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,994 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Cy Endfield cowrote the epic prequel Zulu Dawn 15 years after his enormously popular Zulu. Set in 1879, this film depicts the catastrophic Battle of Isandhlwana, which remains the worst defeat of the British army by natives--the British contingent was outnumbered 16-to-1 by the Zulu tribesmen.

The film's opinion of events is made immediately clear in its title sequence: ebullient African village life presided over by King Cetshwayo is contrasted with aristocratic artifice under the arrogant eye of General Lord Chelmsford (Peter O'Toole). Chelmsford is at the heart of all that goes wrong, initiating the catastrophic battle with an ultimatum made seemingly for the sake of giving his troops something to do. His detached manner leads to one mistake after another and this is wryly illustrated in a moment when neither he nor his officers can be bothered to pronounce the name of the land they're in. That it's a beautiful land none the less is made clear by the superb cinematography, which drinks in the massive open spaces that shrink the British army to a line of red ants.

Splendidly stiff-upper-lipped support comes from a heroic Burt Lancaster and a fluffy, yet gruff, Bob Hoskins. Although the story is less focused and inevitably more diffuse than the concentrated events of Rorke's Drift that followed soon after, Zulu Dawn is an unflinchingly honest depiction of British Imperial diplomacy. --Paul Tonks

Product Description

The story of the 1879 battle of Isandlhwana, one of the worst defeats in British colonial history, 'Zulu Dawn' describes the diplomatic errors and ill-advised military decisions which led to a confrontation between 1,500 British soldiers and a 25,000 strong Zulu army. A prequel to the 1963 classic (and schoolboy's favourite) 'Zulu', the emphasis is again placed upon huge, awe-inspiring battle scenes and the brave stand the soldiers take against unsurmountable odds.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning prequel to Zulu 20 Nov 2002
By Deborah MacGillivray HALL OF FAME VINE VOICE
Zulu with Stanley Baker and Michael Caine is one of my favourite films, and I think some make the mistake of judging Zulu Dawn against Zulu. Though they are about the battles with the Zulu on the same day, they should not be judged against the other, but used as companion pieces. Zulu was the story of a small band on British Soldiers, barely 100, who held out against over 4000 Zulu warriors. It is a more personal film, looking at the triumph for Chard and Bromhead against such odds. At the start of Zulu, you see the Zulu walking through the British dead. That is the aftermath of Zulu Dawn. Zulu Dawn is much less person, more sweeping in statement and scope.
Cy Enfield co-wrote Zulu Dawn with Anthony Story, some 15 years after Zulu,(Enfield half of the Baker-Enfield team that produced ZULU - and interesting to note Anthony Story was the biographer of Stanley Baker), depict the British Colonialism 'Little England' policy and arrogance that contributed to the downfall of the British troops left on the face of Ishlandlwana in January 1879, the greatest defeat of a modern army by natives. Chelmsford, played perfectly by Peter O'Toole, made the first mistake: divided his forces in the face of the enemy, especially when he had no idea where the enemy was. Secondly, the same arrogance left them to camp nearly 1500 and native levees on the open slope of Isandhlwana without forming any sort of defencive works for protection, despite warnings. They ignored Boer sightings of Zulu in the Valley just beyond, because Chelmsford had it set in his mind they were at Ulundi. The stupid rationing of bullets, the way the quartermaster passed them out, saw the unprotected Brits left without any means of defending themselves.
Zulu Dawn is more depressing, because it shows the whole loss of life was so futile, but the film is a beautiful tribute to the soldier of Queen Victoria's Wars, warts, arrogance, stiff upperlip, valour and all.
Utterly mesmerising, deeply moving.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
The film is excellent for the atmosphere it creates at what it must have been like with 20 odd thousand Zulu's coming at you in full force.

The Zulu battle tactic of the 'horns of a bullalo' are not explained at all in the movie,the fact that the entire camp was surrounded and swallowed up in less than an hour and that it was a total eclipse of the sun on that day, which is important to the Zulu's. As a rule the Zulu's never fight on such a day, but were forced to as their army's whereabouts was discovered.

Melville was given the colours to save on his own. Not as shown in the film.He met Coghill at the Buffalo river, Having crossed the river, they were killed as Coghill was helping Melville climb up the river bank on the far side. Also Durnford stayed with and died with his men, not as shown standing alone on a wagon.Go to rorkesdriftvc for an excellent write up on the battle.

There is an excellent audio cd by David Rattray on the Anglo Zulu Wars, called 'The Day of the Dead Moon' that are a must for those interested.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rifles and spears in conflict. 3 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The film Zulu Dawn has often suffered in comparison to its predecessor Zulu which is unfortunate for Zulu Dawn is an excellent film in its own right.
It boasts a stellar cast,strong characterisation,stunning scenery and it sticks closely to historical fact.
It tells the true story of the battle of Isandhlwana which was fought prior to Rorkes Drift (on which the 1963 film Zulu was based).As the film progresses one sympathises with the Zulus who are on the receiving end of the scramble for Africa and the rank and file privates in the army who must have wondered why they were in South Africa in the first place.
The battle scenes are carefully staged and although the first half of the film is slow the story is carefully crafted to give a real sense of history.
The scenes of the Officers dining with servants and silver service while a few miles away over 1000 British troops are been massacred is particularly well done .
In conclusion I feel the real power of the film is the fact that it is a true historical event and the soldiers who fought and died thousands of miles from their home are shown as real heroes to the shame of the politicians and diplomats who sent them there.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The sound is very poor on this Arrow Films dvd 18 May 2009
By Robert
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've just compared this dvd briefly to the perfect edition in France by a label called Opening. On this UK dvd by Arrow Films, there is poor sound with crackling right through the film. A bit like being at a cinema back in the 70's! On the dvd by Opening in France, the sound and picture are perfect, no crackling and a slightly sharper picture with English audio (and optional French audio too). I'm returning this dvd to amazon shortly. Buy the dvd from France, the best in the world!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good film but possibly the worst DVD ever made? 13 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Prequel to the epic Zulu starring Stanley Baxter, Michael Caine and Jack Hawkins, Zulu Dawn became a staple of Boxing Day viewing for me as a kid in the UK. Not quite as good as Zulu, but an entertaining film nonetheless. Magnificent wide vistas of the African landscape are memorable as a cast of thousands representing the Zulu impis overwhelm the severely outnumbered British troops at Isandwhalna. The results lead to the events at Rorke's Drift represented earlier in Zulu. Fine performances by Burt Lancaster (despite an appalling Irish accent) and Simon Ward make the film very watchable, despite confusing scene setting during the early part of the plot.
But the DVD is another matter. By far the worst DVD that I have ever seen, the image presented is grainy and full of dust and scratches and the mono sound track undermines the magnificent battle scenes. But worst still, the "anamorphic" transfer has been a real hatchet job with parts of the image reduced to a fraction of the original. This is most obvious in scenes in which the Zulu dialogue is subtitled in English, where the Zulus' heads are chopped off to accommodate the subtitles. Other scenes have parts of actors' faces talking at the edges of the image with huge empty spaces in between. It goes without saying that such treatement does little to show off the magnificent battle scenes later on in the film.
A complete aberration of a DVD. If this had been the first DVD that I had ever seen, I would have gone vack to my old VHS. Avoid like the plague and hope that if and when Zulu is released on DVD it is given more respect than this effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ZULU DAWN
Fantastic! Thoroughly enjoyed this film and will certainly be watching it again and again. You just have to marvel at such epic mastery, both on the part of the actors and also... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marion Mortimer
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
film,stellar cast, tells true story of zulu battle,welsh(mostly) defeated overwellming odds at roukes drift well worth seeing, michael caine here stop throwing those bloody... Read more
Published 1 month ago by dark magic
5.0 out of 5 stars historical blunder
this tells the real tragic events of imperial greed and bulling of the time and no holes barred movie.very interesting and we brits know our history and past .very good movie . Read more
Published 1 month ago by markus
5.0 out of 5 stars goood
most excellent movie good start to next 1 explains a lot crazy but wow liked a lot watch it go for it
Published 1 month ago by mark l jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars zulu dawn blu-ray review
I bought Zulu Dawn blu-ray for my Xmas,I remember seeing it at the Cinema,1979/80,I thought it was very good. Read more
Published 3 months ago by mr david cairns
4.0 out of 5 stars This a good movie
For some reason this film has received many unfavourable reviews when compared with Zulu, starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Speedygee
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing new version from Severin
I have avoided buying a copy of Zulu Dawn up until now because the DVD's available have either been of poor quality or lacking its correct aspect ratio. Read more
Published 3 months ago by cefn sidan
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent follow-up companion/prequel to Zulu
In what transpired to be a moment of slightly spooky coincidence, I watched this film with my wife the very night before Peter O'Toole passed away, having also watched Zulu not... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sebastian Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars zulu dawn french version
Great film, I originally bought the arrow film dvd , but because it was a bad transfer and went and bought the
French dvd version and what a difference , picture quality is... Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars My brother loved it
Unfortuneatley my brother is blind who I order these films for. He went blind at the age of 38 and loves to watch/hear films he has already seen so he can visualise these.
Published 6 months ago by Colleen Broadwell
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