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Customer Review

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning prequel to Zulu, 20 Nov. 2002
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This review is from: Zulu Dawn [Region 2] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jul 2008 18:52:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Sep 2014 22:58:08 BDT
AJ says:
Enjoyed your review just a few little pointers here,the soldiers didnt run out of bullets as portraid in the movie two things happened,first of all the Martini Henri rifle after firing 15 plus bullets within short peroid of time and the heat was quite likely to jam due to the crimped cartridge that was issued at this time and quality of gun powder that was used hence lull in firing trying to remove faulty cartridge out of the breach,second thing was the huge space between the soldiers they were not side by side as shown in the movie but possibly up to 2-3 metres apart and plenty of them were 1-2kms further on than the main camp itself and the grass would most lilely have been long so when the Zulus launched there full on charge the speed that this was done at plus the above would carve a way through the soldiers lines with not too much trouble.Have walked the battlefild 3-4 times and it is quite a eery place.
There was a point in the Zulu charge where the fire of the British was so intense the charge faultered a chief however rallied the zulus to press on rest is history.
The dead and dying British, Colonial and Native combatants were disembowed and the returning Chelmsford and men had to sleep amongst the dead as they arrived back in the dark.
The little beach you see in the movie where they crossed the Buffalo River with the colours to try and escape is there an absolutely fascinating place.Lt Coghill and Melville didnt die on the beech as shown in the movie but were caught at the top of a hill on the Natal side of the river,how they got up there is a feat in itself as they would have been exhausted and Coghill had twisted his knee earlier chasing a chicken for the pot.They did lose the colours crossing the Buffalo river but were subsequently found downstream a few days later by a Major Black and brought back to Rorkes Drift to great cheers of the second batallion.Check out the book The Washing of The Spears an excellent read.
Hope you find my brief comments helpfull.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Nov 2013 19:48:32 GMT
Speedigee says:
The soldiers at Rorke's Drift also had difficulties with their Martini-Henry rifles over-heating. The breech became so hot that they could barely hold them. ['The Washing of The Spears', Morris and 'Zulu Battle Piece', Coupland.]

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2016 15:44:14 BDT
A post so lovely and informative [that I'll merely note that punctuation can be done by ear if you have someone read out to you and you put in a comma for a pause and a full-stop if you want to stop fully. It's a pity your teachers likely didn't bother even if it doesn't crimp your eloquence].
No, I wasn't the 'Unhelpful' ticker, I thought your piece marvellously informative and would now like to walk the battlefield too.
Thanks, and sorry if I seem a pannet!

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2016 22:20:55 BDT
Speedigee says:
Er, what is a pannet?
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Review Details



Deborah MacGillivray

Location: US & UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 228,561