47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
"Never leave an enemy behind or it will rise again to fly at your throat.",,
This review is from: Shaka Zulu  [DVD] (DVD)
I've first seen this series when it first came out on TV and it had me at awe and having watched the whole series through again I realized that this is still a great story, very well told and well acted. Filmed entirely on location in South Africa, Shaka Zulu offers an often-compelling look at a tumultuous period in African history, centering around the character of Shaka himself, who emerges as a complex figure teetering on the balance between leader and tyrant. What I like most about Shaka Zulu is that it never bows to stereotype and never simplifies the story down to "good guys versus bad guys. The British government is clearly in favor of colonizing Africa through fair means or foul; some of the British feel that this is wrong, though they are outvoted by those who feel that British self-interest (and power) takes precedence over the less powerful native nations of Africa. But it's also abundantly clear that Shaka is far from a heroic leader of his people against European colonialism. His rise to power is shown to be a bloody, brutal story of merciless warfare and the quenching of his own personal thirst for revenge; and in the end, we can see that a "great leader" can destroy a nation as easily as he can create it.
Who can forget Henry Cele? He does a very creditable job as in the title role, radiating the raw power of the war leader while also clearly portraying Shaka's keen and agile mind. The scenes in which Farewell and the others match wits with Shaka are some of the most entertaining, particularly when Dr. Fynn (Robert Powell) tries to direct Shaka toward the study of Christianity; Shaka's reasoned (and alarming, for Dr. Fynn) application of the story of Christ to his own situation is priceless. Edward Fox does his best to portray Lt. Farewell as a fully-developed character, but in this case, the series can be faulted for not being detailed enough, despite the length of the production. The concluding episodes appear to build on aspects of Farewell's character that are insufficiently supported by what we've seen of him in the story. It's worth noting that the listing of Christopher Lee as a co-star is hyperbole: he does appear in the film, but only very briefly at the beginning.
One thing that holds Shaka Zulu back from being a really outstanding epic story is the unevenness of the narrative; while some of the episodes are well-paced and interesting all the way through, others have less to offer. There are good production values and great scenery and hundreds of "real" extras, a refreshing change from the vacuous CGI laden "epics" which flood the cinema. I think the fact this was a mini-series has led to this production being seriously undervalued. While it's far from perfect, it is certainly ambitious, and does capture the epic sweep of Shaka's life and times.
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Initial post: 21 Mar 2012 20:04:17 GMT
Whilst the character is described well and in detail, is there no clear indication of the time period which is covered, the areas covered and how he fits in to the stories of Zulu Dawn ( Isandhlwana ) and Zulu ( Rorke's Drift ) . If the man was such a dominant character, why did not more of the African countries follow his example , thus achieving autonomy.
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