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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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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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on 17 August 2006
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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on 16 January 2014
I bought Zulu Dawn blu-ray for my Xmas,I remember seeing it at the Cinema,1979/80,I thought it was very good.
I bought the dvd when it was released,not particularly good "viewing",this blu-ray knocks the dvd to smithereens for picture quality,it is a HUGE JUMP in pq,it,s like seeing it for the first time,it,s not in the same league as Zulu blu-ray,what is?but it is now a worthy blu-ray double feature,watch Zulu Dawn blu-ray first,then Zulu blu-ray,you wont get a better double feature,full praise for the Guys who have restored/remastered Zulu Dawn on blu-ray,for the fans of this film it is a MUST-BUY!!!!!
Now,the bonus for us Brits,this USA blu-ray is REGION FREE!!!!!!and it has very good extras,three wee documentary,s,History of the Zulu Wars,Making of Zulu Dawn,and Visit to the Battlefield,they really are bonus features.One of my friends came to the house yesterday,same age as me,he was amazed at how great this blu-ray looked,I repeat,for any fans of Zulu Dawn this blu-ray is a MUST-BUY!!!!!it,s a 5 out of 5,compared to the dvd.
Davy Cairns,Scotland.
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This film, though made some 15 years later is of course a prequel to the
1964 classic 'Zulu'
The Governor of the British Colony of 'Natal' declares war on the 'Zulu'
nation after a series of ultimatums are rejected by the 'Zulu' King.
The 'Natal' garrison lead by 'Lord Chelmsford' are ordered to move upon
the Zulu territory in some numbers.
The threat posed by the 'Zulu' warriors is grossly under-estimated by 'Lord
Chelmsford' who despite good intelligence splits his force, a large column
led by him move east to 'Kings Kraal' to supposedly engage the 'Zulu's'
while leaving a force of around 1500 (1200 regulars plus African recruits
and equipment carriers) at 'Isandlwana' where the 'Zulu' warriors as
reported really are closing in on.
The British force are overwhelmed by around 25000 Zulu warriors, a crushing
The arrogance of the British was more than evident, it wasn't thought that
a force of spear-carrying warriors could defeat a well trained British force in
that way.
'Lord Chelmsford' had made a catastrophic error of judgement, he had brushed
aside the intelligence he had been given.
The defeat sent shock-waves throughout the Empire.
After their victory at 'Isandlwana' the 'Zulu's' turned their attention to 'Rorke's Drift'
a mission post defended by around 100 or so British Soldiers.
The film has a really lengthy sequence of the battle at 'Isandlwana'
A really good film with a terrific cast-list on board which includes....'Burt Lancaster'
'Simon Ward' 'Peter O'Toole' and 'Bob Hoskins'
The picture quality is superior to that of DVD.
Worth owning both this and the 1964 'Zulu'
Special Features:
The history of the Zulu Wars' (Exclusive featurette with 'Zulu Rising' Author 'Ian Knight'
A visit to the Battlefield (Exclusive featurette where 'Ian Knight' visits location of the
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on 3 December 2001
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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on 18 May 2009
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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on 13 November 2000
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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on 30 March 2013
The only reason for buying this (and also the DVD of "Zulu") was because I am going on a visit to the battlefields of Kwazulu Natal and I wanted a little help understanding the history and was told these films would be of interest as a part of my research. Whilst the movies are very old fashioned in the way they are filmed they nevertheless do tell the story in an interesting way and I did find them to be useful in developing my understanding of the time when used alongside the context of genuine history accounts. Although this was the second movie to be made you should watch this one prior to viewing "Zulu" as this film is about the first battle to be fought.
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on 9 June 2009
I have to agree with Mr Wilkinson, it is a disgrace that this decent and epic British classic with an outstanding cast including Burt Lancaster, Peter O'Toole, John Mills, Denholm Elliot and Bob Hoskins, is again only released in bad quality. The first time I bought this film on VHS I had to call distributor Mosaic to complain about the wrong 1,85 format and they sent me a VHS copy with a correct 2,35 ratio. When they released it on dvd they only used the wrong format again. (and it looked awful too)
Don't get your hope up that this is a big improvement.
What does one have to do to get a British classic in the best possible version ? Buy it in France...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2011
This is an excellent film with a superb cast of high-quality actors who give their all and, although the DVD is not the highest quality, it is good.
For many who have seen only "Zulu", this creates the political atmosphere very well, creating both sides with their sharply contrasting worlds, their atmospheres and settings. Although not factually correct in every detail (see other reviews for details), it does adhere closely to the truth in most respects.
It deserves more credit than it received and is an excellent beginning for anyone investigating this period of history.
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