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Zulu [Blu-ray] [Import]
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Zulu (1964), director Cy Endfield’s magnificent epic about the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, pits a tiny force of some 150 British colonials against the massive power of 4000 Zulu warriors, and comes up with a classic film about honor and valor in the face of outrageous odds. Starring Stanley Baker, Michael Caine (in the role that made him an international force to be reckoned with), Jack Hawkins, Nigel Green, and James Booth, the film is a unique combination of boy’s own adventure and potent anti-war sentiment. Featuring a sterling score by the one and only John Barry.
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OK, as always with Hollywood, you must accept that history will be changed to make it more "interesting," and this movie is no exception. However, that said, this is a great movie, with lots of great action and heroism. I liked that while the British were portrayed as heroic (with just enough human weakness thrown in) the Zulus were also portrayed as disciplined warriors, honorable and brave. The cast is wonderful, with Nigel Green doing an excellent job of portraying Colour Sgt. Bourne with a great mix of almost superhuman soldiering and vulnerable humanity. And, I must add, that the scenery was excellent, helping to make this movie a real extravaganza.
So, if you are looking for a clear-eyed and realistic recreation of the 1879 battle of Rorke's Drift, you will need to look elsewhere. But, if you are looking for a movie of Victorian-era colonial warfare, with action, heroism and lots of gunfire, then this is the movie for you. I love it!
Those killed in the battle scenes don't bleed when speared, bashed on the head or shot at point blank range. And the mortally wounded people falling down dead tend to do so in a way that is clearly contrived. That alone will probably amuse many people brought up on today's more realistic, graphic special effects.
The script is also quite dated in places. There are quite a few lines that will no doubt amuse or exasperate younger audiences.
But despite those limitations, this is still a first class war movie.
The plot is based on a real event at Rourke's Drift (in present day South Africa) during the 1879 Zulu War. The attack by over 4000 Zulus against an isolated outpost manned by about 100 British troops is an historic fact. 13 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders.
My favorite scene is toward the end, on the morning of the second day of battle, when the two sides are preparing for battle. The Zulus warriors are lined up along the crest of a hill overlooking the British positions and are singing Zulu war songs (real Zulu battle songs, sung by real Zulus; this movie was quite accurate in that respect) while the Welsh troops in the British positions are singing the old Welsh battle song Men of Harlech (actually a version of Men of Harlech written specifically for this movie; the original Men of Harlech is much longer than the movie version) to counter the Zulus` singing.
It`s a great scene. No other war movie I`ve seen has the two opposing sides singing at each other before the final battle.
Great movie, despite being somewhat dated.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Lots of action -typical British way of engaging in warfare - really well donePublished 5 days ago by Johanna Booker Walker
Arrived within 10 days of ordering. Excellent movie, gripping action.Published 2 months ago by Deputy Dagg
I have been trying to get this movie for a long time. Very good movie.Published 2 months ago by dennis mitchell
Filmed where it all happened. Great story and excellent cast. Loved the interviews.Published 2 months ago by ian robinson
This movie is beautiful to watch on blu-ray. The imagery is crystal clear. Really glad I bought this on blu-ray.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
while the historical event may be embellished a tad, it's still a good movie. the Zulu singing is unforgettable.Published 6 months ago by arioch