Director Cy Endfield and actor Stanley Baker created a box office winner with this stirring account of a small British garrison's defence of the Rorke's Drift mission station against an overwhelming force of Zulu warriors in colonial South Africa.
Misconceptions about such a very fine movie are easy in our era of political correctness. So be assured, a jingoistic, flag-waving paean to colonialism it most certainly is not. There is a strong anti-war message here. From the young private who asks, "why us," to the garrison commander asserting that he came to "build a bridge," the British soldiers are shown to be homesick outsiders in a strange country they find at once fascinating and perilous. For their part, the Zulus are splendid. Their chilling war chants and shield beating ("...it's that damn train again") are so effective that both Peter Jackson and Ridley Scott later borrowed the idea for their own work ("The Two Towers" and "Gladiator").
Above all this is a film about valour. The heroes are warriors who share a common bond forged in battle. At its climax the surviving defenders grapple desperately with the proud and mighty Zulu army as each side comes to respect the bravery and prowess of the other. Driven by John Barry's inspiring score, this is a magnificent and unforgettable cinematic experience.