Friday, November 22, 2013

Zulu (1964)

Director: Cy Endfield

Writers: Cy Endfield, John Prebble

Composer: John Barry

Starring: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Ivor Emmanuel, Paul Daneman, Glynn Edwards, Neil McCarthy, Patrick Magee, Richard Burton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Dwarfing The Mightiest! Towering Over The Greatest!

Plot: On the January 22nd 1879 the British Army suffered one of its worst defeats when Zulu forces massacred 1,500 of its troops at Isandlhwana. A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering in excess of 4000 warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply dump guarded by 139 Welsh infantrymen. The film concentrates on this bloody 12 hour battle during which the British force, under their commander from the Royal Engineers who happened to be in the area building a bridge and happened to be senior to the infantry officer, won 11 Victoria Crosses. While taking some liberties with history the film follows reality fairly closely, including matching exactly the identities of the VC winners.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Man it's been a long time since I saw this.  It takes a while before the battle begins but there's a sense of certain doom that fills the air until that moment.  And even then when you look at the odds of about 100 men up against 4,000...and surviving(!), it's pretty spectacular how they pulled it off.  The performances are strong although Michael Caine was odd until the action started.  After that moment he was just fine.  Nigel Green is forever a badass. Patrick Magee (as the doctor) has a moment that's too obviously preachy about the morals of killing but that's the only time the film really pounds the issue that heavily.  It should have been a quick line instead of dwelling on it, slowing the pacing down for a moment.  It's great hearing Richard Burton's voice at the top and bottom of the film and John Barry has some really nice moments with the music, especially during the battles.  You might be tempted to turn it off after the first ten minutes but stick with it.  The final two thirds is MUCH faster and has the meat of the story and all of the action.

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