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"Zulu": With Some Guts Behind It, The Making of the Epic Movie Hardcover – 24 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 431 pages
  • Publisher: Tomahawk Press (24 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953192660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953192663
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 17.9 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,037,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is the full story of the making of Zulu, one of the best-loved and most enduringly popular British films ever made. It tells the epic story of the Battle of Rorke's Drift of 1879, in which barely 150 soldiers of the British Army in South Africa fought for twelve hours to hold an isolated mission station against sustained assault from 4000 highly disciplined Zulu warriors. Zulu enjoyed blockbusting box office success and now holds near-legendary status in the British popular imagination. Written in a lively and accessible style and lavishly illustrated throughout, this is the definitive account of the filming of one of the great movie epics. Covered in fascinating detail are such topics as: How hundreds of Zulu tribesmen, many of whom had never before seen a film, were taught to perform for the camera; Filming under Apartheid: vivid reminiscences of working in the midst of an oppressive political regime; We are taken behind the cameras with actors Stanley Baker, Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins, James Booth, Nigel Green and Ivor Emmanuel; How the battle was reconstructed against the spectacular backdrop of Natal's Drakensberg mountain range.

The book is based on three years of original research and dozens of new interviews with cast and crew members and their families. It includes: The original article by John Prebble, never before published in full; First-hand accounts of shooting the film, many never before published; Extracts from the screenplay and script notes, never before published; Extracts from letters and production documents, never before published; Hundreds of rare and unusual illustrations, many never before published; Biographies of all the principal actors and filmmakers.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Quiverbow TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in how the film making process works should take note of this book. It may only concern itself with Zulu (the best film ever in my humble opinion) but it envelops far more: how screenplays come into being, casting actors, location and prop management, editing, and the trials of submitting a film for certification.

Until I read this, I knew nothing of the background to the film, merely what it was about. I knew 11 VCs were won at Rorke's Drift, but not that 17 of the 112 men died. Filmed between 25th March and 26th July 1963, the inception went back as far as April 1958 with an article called 'Slaughter in the Sun' published in 'Lilliput' magazine. The author of that, John Prebble, turned it into a screenplay called Zulu (after many rewrites and revisions).

Sheldon Hall's exhaustive research details scenes left on the cutting room floor, and not in a passing manner, with explanations of why they were excised. With this information, you'll know why certain scenes would never have worked, too. Dozens of both on and off set photos compliment the commentary and every page is turned in anticipation of what secrets will be revealed.

You'll also realise how much reviewers seem out of touch with the man-in-the-street. Reviewers shouldn't concern themselves with speculation as to the likely social effects of the subject but to tell the reader whether it's any good. This is more than good: it's a work of art itself.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gene R. Obrien on 5 Oct. 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you love the movie 'Zulu' as I have since my father took me to see it in 1964, then this is the book for you. The only other way to get thisclose is to have actually been there during the filming. Probably one of the best 'making of' books written and Dr. Hall has done a superior job!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Nicholson-morton on 10 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of this book is `The making of the epic movie", which says what it means. Sheldon Hall has comprehensively accomplished just that, describing in fascinating detail the research for the original article by author John Prebble, the development of the screenplay, the creation of the film's characters, the casting, finding the locations in South Africa, the actual filming and editing, the music, plus the final release and the reviews and criticism. Released in 1964, the film has remained popular for over forty years and this book goes a long way to explaining why.

The events in the film took place in January1879 during the Anglo-Zulu War on the day following the British defeat at Isandhlwana, later filmed as Zulu Dawn. The small mission at Rorke's Drift consisted of six hundred square yards of poorly defensible land and was manned by eight officers and ninety-seven other ranks with thirty-six sick and wounded men in the mission hospital. Moving against Rorke's Drift was a force of four thousand Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses were won in a single day in the battle of Rorke's Drift. Reprinted for the first time is the entire article, Slaughter in the Sun, written by historical author John Prebble and published in the Lilliput magazine for 1958.

Inevitably, film producers and writers are criticised when they tamper with real-life historical characters. These critics tend to forget that the film isn't a documentary but a dramatic representation and, in Hall's words, `I believe it is not only defensible but necessary to reinvent real-life figures for their new role in a drama.' If viewers of these films confuse the drama with actual history, then that's not the fault of the producers.
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