Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

Zulu [1964] [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 30 January 2012
Hopefully we have moved on from this 1964 fictional account of the events at Rorkes Drift. The basic facts are that a British army invaded Zulu land without government appoval or knowledge. They were armed to the teeth with the lastest rifle attacking a larger force armed with spears. The zulu reserve of 3 to 4000 attacked the mainly British force of 150 to 200 at Rorkes Drift who kept the Zulus at bay with their excellent rifles which the zulus had no answer to. After several hours of daylight attacks the Zulus continued spasmodic attacks into the night but left long before dawn. This illegal war of colonial times led to to the destuction of a peoples way of life who remained subjugated until recent times. We should never have been there in the 1st place. A shame the Zulus had no chance & a pity the subject was not treated with honesty.
44 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 25 February 2014
A large number of strong words have been written for and against both Blu-ray releases of Zulu when The Twilight Time release was announced for January 2014 in the US and having carefully compared both I will try to bring a little balance!
Aspect ratio: This is noticeably wider on all sides in the US release than the UK Paramount. It does not make a great deal of difference to the experience but it is curious why Paramount cut theirs back. I estimate about a 5% difference.
Sound: The TT release is lossless stereo whilst the Paramount is regular Dolby stereo. TT sounds more open but I would not say the difference was as large as some have suggested. It is an old film and both are OK, TT is just that bit better.
Commentary: Here we have a big difference. TT has a really interesting discussion by two historians, (that unfortunately is NOT subtitled but is played without any sound from the main soundtrack so it is easier to hear if one is hearing impaired). The Paramount commentary is well subtitled and is by another historian and the second director. It is also interesting.
Subtitles: Paramount offer regular as well as SDH English and the commentary, TT subtitle the main audio only.
Now to the tricky bit, the Picture: When the Paramount came out it was so obviously so immeasurably superior to all the DVDs that had appeared it got rave reviews. The passage of time enables us to have another look and on reflection it is perhaps a bit too bright. The red coats have a tendency to blood red that is not quite correct but the greens on the landscape and the sky come up wonderfully well. On TT the red is rather orange which again is not correct and the landscape is drier with poor rendering of green and just a little haze that inhibits clarity. The Paramount picture is certainly a bit over-cooked but it looks pretty good. This Twilight Time release is more like the cinema but not as good as some other restorations. On balance I just prefer the Paramount but neither are perfect and personal taste will probably be the decider.
Extras: Paramount do a better job here but neither are as good as they could have been. Neither offer any opportunity for the Zulus to have a say and they were the real stars of this film.
Both discs are region free but the US release is a limited edition and more expensive. I would say it is probably not really worth it except for Zulu fans but it is still pretty good. Many may prefer it.
I hope this helps
11 Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 March 2017
I paid for rental of film and it stopped halfway through so, not criticising the film but the service
33 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 July 2015
Average film, average blu ray. I threw it in the bin, I think.
33 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 November 2008
The defence of the mission station at Rorkes Drift, Natal in 1879 not only softened the blow of the much larger defeat at Isandhlwana on the british public at the time, but also provided the basis of what is probably the best war film ever made. As with all films based on factual stories a certain ammount of poetic licence has been taken, numbers are about right 120 against 4000, and most of the names are correct, though not necessarily their charactor, but this all helps to make a memorable film.

Opening with scenes from the battleground at the ill fated clash at Isandhlwana, news filters through first to the camp of king Cetshwayo, then to the drift. This leads to scenes which identify the main charactors while the garrison make ready for the impending zulu attack, with tension constantly building up among the defenders.

Unlike some films this doesn't take up too much of the film and its not long before the drift is surrounded and under attack. The battlescenes are well choreographed and shot, not too gory, but in their own way show how heroic the defence was, without the histrionics associated with Hollywood productions.

This was I believe Michael Caine's first starring role, and along with Stanley Baker and Jack Hawkins, and a good support cast the acting is first class.

For many years this has been staple christmas tv fare, but the top drawer quality (audio and visual) of this release makes it a year round joy to watch.
33 Comments| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2014
I saw this film at least five times and every time I liked it more. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

1. The battle of Rorke's Drift

On 22 January 1879 the central column of British Army which just invaded Zulu kingdom was divided in three parts. The main force under Lord Chelmsford (2500 men) advanced deeper in the country, searching for the main Zulu army with intention to engage it and conclude the campaign early with a decisive victory. In order to advance faster Lord Chelmsford left his train under protection of approximately 1700 men (roughly 700 regular British soldiers and 1000 colonial and native auxiliaries) at an unprotected camp at Isandlwana. Further south a smaller detachment of roughly 300 men (half regulars, half native auxiliaries) was guarding a supply depot and field hospital at Rorke's Drift.

On that fateful day the main Zulu army of 24 000 warriors skilfully avoided British main force and attacked by surprise the camp at Isandlwana. A little bit later the same day Zulu reserves counting around 4000 men attacked also the post at Rorke's Drift. At Isandlwana the battle ended in a total defeat for British, who were overwhelmed and lost 1300 killed (including almost all regulars). At Rorke's Drift however, where the Zulu had an even larger numerical superiority, things turned out very, very differently...

This little British garrison was composed of a company of regular infantry, a small group of engineers and a handful of colonial and civilian auxiliaries. There was also a company of Native Natal Contingent (indigenous auxiliaries) and a cavalry company of Natal Native Horse who managed to escape from Isandlwana, but all those men fled (commanding officers and NCOs included...) before the battle was joined. What remained was a force of 140 regular British soldiers (infantry and engineers) and 15 colonial and armed civilian auxiliaries - a grand total of 155 men. As Rorke's Drift was a field hospital, possibly as much as ten of those men were from the beginning too sick or too badly wounded to fight... Against them advanced a force of 4000 well trained and disciplined Zulu warriors, mostly armed with traditional weapons but some of whom had also various firearms - even if those latter were mostly smooth bored flintlock muzzle loaders...

The battle began at 4pm on 22 January. Zulu commanders launched a series of charges against British positions, which by moments had to be fought off by bayonets - when in the same time those warriors who had firearms (possibly as many as 200) maintained a harassing fire from neighbouring hills. The battle ended on 4am on 23 January and soon after the exhausted and disheartened Zulus retired. The butcher bill was heavy for both sides with 17 British defenders and no less than 351 Zulus lying dead. The retreating Zulus carried also away hundreds of wounded with them - when at the post almost all defenders suffered some kind of wounds, 16 of them very serious.

In both battles British troops fought hard and well, fully aware that there was no escape, that their enemies didn't usually take prisoners and also knowing, that Zulus willingly tortured wounded captives before murdering them. But the defenders of Rorke's Drift did much better when facing even worse odds and survived, when their comrades at Isandlwana, who were more numerous and even had two field guns and a battery of Congreve rocket launchers, were almost all destroyed. The main reasons why it happened are the following:

- unlike at Isandlwana, at Rorke's Drift the defenders were NOT surprised - they learned around 1pm about the disaster at Isandlwana and an advancing Zulu army and therefore they had about three hours to prepare themselves to battle; those three hours made a lot of difference

- unlike at Isandlwana, where the camp was in the middle of an open plain and there was not even a circle of wagons available, at Rorke's Drift the defenders have prepared a defensive position; it was of course NOT MUCH of a defensive position, as it was composed of a grand total of two buildings, a small enclosure for cattle (a kraal) made from low (easily climbable without help) stone walls, couple of reversed wagons and a barricade made with biscuit boxes and bags of grain found in the depot; but still it was much better than nothing

- unlike at Isandlwana, the Zulu commanders committed their troops piecemeal, with different "regiments" and "companies" attacking SUCCESSIVELY from different directions, allowing the desperately outnumbered and very hard pressed British to defeat them nevertheless one after another; this incompetence of Zulu commanders which prevented them to launch a simultaneous all azimuth attack with their whole force was possibly the decisive factor in this battle

- unlike at Isandlwana, where at the crucial moment of the extremely intense battle there were problems with opening the tightly packed munition boxes, which resulted in an interruption of fire, at Rorke's Drift there was not even one moment of problem with munitions; all men received an ample supply before battle and more munitions were carried and distributed during the battle, mostly by those sick and wounded soldiers who were not fully able to fight themselves.

- finally, unlike Lt. Col. Pulleine and Lt. Col. Durnford at Isandlwana, Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead and Assistant Commissary Dalton (civilian working for the army) who commanded jointly at Rorke's Drift managed to organise their limited resources in their improvised diminutive redoubt in possibly the optimal way, not only mounting an efficient all azimuth fixed defence but also creating a mobile reserve used successively in those sectors where a crisis developed.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders of Rorke's Drift, which was an exceptionally high figure for such a small engagement - although not, as commonly thought, the most awarded in a single action or the most in a day, as 16 were awarded at the Battle of Inkerman, on 5 November 1854 and 28 were awarded during the Second Relief of Lucknow, 14-22 November 1857.

2. The film.

Made in 1964 "Zulu" is a quite faithful reconstruction of this incredible battle, although, this being a film and not a documentary, the director changed some things. Possibly the most significant change concerns the ending of the battle, as in the film the departing Zulus salute the defenders with a song - such a thing of course didn't happen but it makes one helluva beautiful scene! Also, in the film the Zulus are ordered to attack Rorke's Drift by their king Cetshwayo himself - such a thing didn't happen and in fact the attack of this small British position was the own initiative of two "idumas" (princes) commanding Zulu reserve force.

We are also told in the film that Zulus used at Rorke's Drift numerous modern Henry-Martini rifles captured at Isandlwana - well, it absolutely DIDN'T happen and it is a very fortunate thing for the British defenders, because then they wouldn't survive the battle. The low quality of fire arms and especially munitions used by Zulu shooters at Rorke's Drift was the main reason why their prolonged harassing fire killed only five British soldiers - with Henry-Martini rifled breech-loaders that would be a completely different story...

The role in the defence of Rorke's Drift of Acting Assistant Commissary Dalton, a civilian from Commissary and Transport Department, was diminished in the film - in real life he was actually amongst those who received Victoria Cross for his part in the battle, a rather rare thing for a civilian, even under military command...

Finally, the film devotes a surprisingly large part to the character of Reverend Otto Witt, Swedish missionary who warned British defenders about the approaching Zulu army and encouraged them to flee. Not only this episode is given too much time, but it also portrays this courageous and respectable missionary in an extremely unflattering way... I admit that this part of the film is actually the only thing I don't like about "Zulu". At all.

There are some other changes, like the age or character of some participants, but I don't want to give too much spoilers.

The most important characters were of course Lieutenants Chard and Bromley, who are played here respectively by the greatly regretted Stanley Baker (he was not Sir Stanley Baker yet) and young Michael Caine, for whom it was the first major role and THE big break which launched his great career.

The film has also three main supporting characters: Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne (Nigel Green), an extremely impressive NCO, Private Henry Hook (James Booth) who begins the film being under arrest and Private Owen (Ivor Emmanuel), who is not only a darn good soldier but also a gifted baritone... Bourne and Hook are real characters - the former was the last defender of Rorke's Drift to die (in 1945, aged 91) and the latter was amongst those who received a Victoria Cross. Private Owen on another hand is a fictitious character - but I am very glad the director created him...)))

"Zulu" mixes a lot of drama and extraordinary tough fights with a lot of top quality humour. Also, the music is simply AMAZING!

Bottom line, this is one of the films that EVERYBODY should watch at least once in life. One of the greatest and best war films EVER. To buy, watch, keep and pass to children. Enjoy!
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 19 May 2013
'Zulu'(1963) is one of my favourite films for a variety of reasons: The brilliant photography bringing out both the magnificent South African scenery and the literally cut-and-thrust of close hand fighting; the taut script and expert direction; the BASIC historical accuracy of the film; the respectful portrayal of the Zulu nation, especially in recreation of rituals and manoeuvres; the use of sound - Zulu advances, gunfire and voices. My favourite scenes are the opening wedding ritual, the mechanism of British rifle-volleying tactics, the struggle in the sick-rooms and the choral battle at the end. For myself a minor blemish in the film concerns the family of Otto Witt (1840-1923), a Swedish missionary, whose wife and three children, had fled before the Zulu's arrived. So he never had a daughter there to provoke a soldier's lust nor did he possess the English accent as employed by Jack Hawkins. In reality, he may not have been an alcoholic but he was a liar who made money out of false reports of the conflict
The film opens with the destruction of the British force at Isandhlwana (22 January 1879) - with excellent commentary by Richard Burton. Then it proceeds to the royal Zulu kraal where Christian missionaries observe a mass-wedding ceremony to rival that of the Moonies. Note Christianity had made extensive progress under Cetshwayo's predecessor, Mpande (1840-72), and one reason for the war was Cetshwayo's mistreatment of converts. The film transfers to the missionary post at Rorke's Drift (never explaining its vital strategic role in the defence of Natal) where Lt. Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine does brilliantly in his first major role) quickly finds himself 'outranked' by Engineer Lt. John Chard (masterly performance by Stanley Baker). 24th Foot 2nd. Battalion B Company is introduced via various characters, some soon to die and others to be awarded one of the 11 VC's won in the fight. Then the Zulu forces of two impis (4000 men) arrive and are resisted by a force of about 120 men. Both sides demonstrate bravery, the leaders show tactical skill and, to apply Wellington's comment on the battle of Waterloo, it was 'a close-run thing'.
A couple of final points. The prequel, 'Zulu Dawn' (1979), is no match for this epic, chiefly because it tackles a subject of much greater scale and so the direction cannot overcome confusion. When you've seen either film go to the accounts of the real history, either online or in book form - I'd recommend 'The Washing of the Spears' by D. Morris (1965) or (for the wider picture) 'South Africa' by D. Troup (1972) - both old but also sound. In such accounts you may pick up odd details - e.g. Witt unsuccessfully sued the UK government for the loss of the post's bridge; the defenders used 20,000 rounds of ammunition and killed about 400 Zulus; both Bromhead (despite being almost stone-deaf) and Chard were promoted to Brevet-Major but Bromhead missed his interview with Queen Victoria; and Henry Hook, originally detailed at the a post, a teetotal and previously award a Good Conduct Medal) finished up as a guard in the British Museum. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Easily worth 5 stars
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 December 2014
I'm usually a fairly easy going bloke, and happy to allow other people to present their own reviews - even if their opinions differ wildly from my own.
However, some of the negative reviews of Zulu are so fatuous, cynical and downright misleading, that I feel compelled to discredit them.
Firstly, to those who say that Zulu is not a historically accurate retelling of the Battle of Rorke's Drift, I say: it is a hell of a lot more accurate than most examples of this genre. Certainly, some liberties have been taken by the film makers, but not to the extent of 'distorting history' as some would claim. A massive force of Zulu warriors attacked a tiny number of British soldiers (many sick and injured) with the sole intention of eradicating them. This happened in real life, and it happened in the film. They failed to do so, and again, this is reflected in the film. What else do you want?
For those who site Saul David's book as the 'real' version of events, I've got news for you - that work has been discredited by almost every relevant authority on the subject. As for the Battle of Rorke's Drift being a case of the English 'stealing' a Welsh victory and claiming it as their own? Nonsense. Granted, it was a Welsh regiment, but many of the soldiers serving in it were English. For those who dispute the truth of this, look it up - the information is readily available.
And to the one reviewer who claimed that Zulu was 'racist' because it showed whites killing blacks, all I can say is: you sir, are an imbecile. This film represents a chapter from the Anglo-Zulu war. I say again, the ZULU war. What colour do you expect Zulus to be?
Lastly, this battle was not a case of spears vs rifles. The marauding Zulus actually had more guns than the British - they'd pilfered them from the bodies of the dead at Isandlwana.

Ultimately, Zulu is a film about courage, sacrifice and heroism; it shows what a few men can achieve through determination and superior tactics, even when outgunned and outnumbered.

Right, the specifics:

The 90th Anniversary Paramount Special Edition DVD does have some minor, irritating cuts, but these cuts have been made with a scalpel rather than a hatchet, and won't detract from your viewing pleasure.
The film has been transferred well - the colours are vibrant and sharp. Honestly, the DVD version looks almost as good as the Blu-Ray, and while the extras on this disc might not be as extensive as on other releases of Zulu, they ARE the most engaging and relevant.

If you are looking for the (so far) best edition of Zulu to get, then this is it.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 July 2014
Remarkably this film is 50 years old, and yet still shows the majority of filmakers past and present how it should be done. To say it is a classic does not do it justice, it is, simply, one of the best films ever made. These are just a few reasons why.

Firstly the quality of the cast. Baker, Hawkins and Caine of course take the plaudits, and deservedly so, but do not overshadow the apparent "lesser lights".

Secondly the screenplay. The script is beautifully written, and the characterisation of some (well, all, really) of the individuals is full,and human, and three dimensional. From the implacable Colour Sergeant Bourne, to the simple Welsh lads who just want to sing, and tend their lamb, to the Medic.Each have a personality, each portray the battle against overwhelming odds in a way that eschews cliche and stereotype in favour of real identity. In fact the lack of cliche and stereotype in just about every role gives this movie one of its many strengths

Then there is the performances. To a man, these are just brilliant. The Caine/Baker class friction is just right, never overbalancing. Caines portrayal of a Toff who is not afraid to use his rank to gain a superiority he does not have is lovely. His humble acceptance after the battle of the real order of things is put across simply, but effectively. Baker's mixture of stoicism and genuine horror (He is asked,"is it always like this? from the battle shocked Caine. "Do you think I would put myself through this butchers yard more than once?" he replies witheringly ) is again, beautifully played and perfectly pitched. The Colour Seargent is perhaps the unheralded star of the show, with pithy one lines and a straight backed Britishness which at once is fully believable and at times very amusing. You just KNOW his men repect him and trust him absolutely. "Do your tunic up. Sloppy soldier...."

Then there is the location. A gorgeous expanse not seen my most people in1964, I'd wager. Simply stunning.

Then, of course, there are the Zulus. Until you actually see and hear them for yourself, there is no real way of adequately summing up the majesty of their presence. The sound, the movement, the swarm of instinctively linked humanity is a wonder to behold.

Finally, the battle sequences. Unflinching, brutal, but not sensationalised. Tide after tide of Zulus, held back by the belated organisational skill of the leaders, and devoted discipline of the men. "Hold them" shouts Caine, in a mixture of command and desperation (and on that, to convey such a mixture of emotion in just two words is fantastic- that guy could ACT) " HOOOOLD THEM!" The sense of tension is palpable. The very idea that these people who we have grown to know could be slaughtered at any time is ever present. The sequence in which the Zulus know they could ovewhelm, but choose not to is remarkable.

It is a great, great, GREAT movie. Everyone should be made to watch it as a true model of the filmmakers art.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon 25 January 2013
I've watched Zulu on bluray a few times now and can definitely say that as well as it being a brilliant movie it is one of the best blurays out there.

Most people of a certain age will have seen Zulu before. Based on a true story of the battle between 140-150 British soldiers against 4000 Zulu warriors at Rourkes Drift that took place in South Africa in the year 1879. Directed by the then blacklisted Cy Enfield with a solid cast including Jack Hawkins, a young Micheal Caine in his first staring role, James Booth and Stanley Baker (who also produced the movie) has left this movie etched on my mind since I was a kid and now my son who is 14 appreciates this movie too. Considering the small budget (compared to nowadays) it was made on, it is an epic production. The backdrops and sweeping scenery are amazing. The sight and sounds of waves of hundreds of Zulu warriors chanting and banging their shields like thunder is one of the things that make this movie the classic it is today.

Bluray-wise, I cannot fault this disc in any way at all. It is an incredible transfer from dvd to bluray.
Compared to the already great original, the picture clarity, colours and audio quality are outstanding. The red of the tunics on the british soldiers is vibrant and during any night/darker scenes the picture quality doesn't fault. Finer details can be picked out in the movie too. If you have any kind of sound sysytem, whack the thing up and listen to the singing and chanting of the Zulus which in Dolby Digital 2.0 is crystal clear and just fantastic especially in the opening zulu dancing scene.

Extras on the disc are not shabby 'disc fillers' but informative and interesting and add to the whole package.

- The music of Zulu....Zulu remembering an epic
- The making of Zulu....snappeth the spear in sunder
- The making of Zulu....Role of Honour
- The directors commentary throughout the film by Robert Porter and historian Sheldon Hall is particularly good if you like that sort of thing.

Considered one of the best British movies ever made and rightly so and now one of the best bluray transfers Zulu can only come as highly recommended.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)