Zulu Dawn

1979

Adventure / Drama / History / War

2
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 62%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 6361

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
February 01, 2021 at 08:03 AM

Director

Cast

Peter O'Toole as Lord Chelmsford
Burt Lancaster as Col. Durnford
Bob Hoskins as C.S.M. Williams
Anna Calder-Marshall as Fanny Colenso
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.01 GB
1280*534
English 2.0
NR
25 fps
1 hr 52 min
P/S 3 / 33
1.88 GB
1920*800
English 2.0
NR
25 fps
1 hr 52 min
P/S 10 / 33

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by GulyJimson 10 / 10

More relevant now than ever.

Released in a badly cut version in 1979 just before the resurgent interest in Burt Lancaster for his performance in "Atlantic City and Peter O'Toole for "Stunt Man", this fine historical epic died an ignominious death at the box office, on the second half of a double bill with the horror film "Silent Scream". It was originally planned by Cy Endfield as a companion film to his 1964 classic, "Zulu". That film opened with a voice over of Richard Burton speaking Lord Chelmsford's communication to Prime Minister Disraeli detailing the massacre that befell a British column of about 1,800 British Infantrymen and native contingents at the hands of Zulu warriors at Isandlwana on January 22, 1879. This disaster left the 155 men at the mission post at Rorke's Drift to fend for themselves against several thousand Zulu warriors headed their way. "Zulu Dawn" chronicles the chain of events that led up to the British debacle at Isandlwana, the worst defeat ever suffered by a professional army at the hands of native forces in history.

Director Douglas Hickox keeps the film moving along and the film is an excellent example of adapting historical events to the needs of cinematic form and drama. In a little less than two hours the causes for the war as well as the roots of the disaster are laid out in clear, if simplified terms. The arrogance of the British Empire as personified by Sir Henry Bartle Frere, (John Mills in another stiff upper lip performance) and his chief lieutenant, Frederick Theisger, Lord Chelmsford, (Peter O'Toole, nicely understated and subdued) are in the filmmaker's view clearly responsible for a war that need never have been fought at all. The film also makes clear that Sir Henry initiated the conflict without the knowledge let alone consent of the British Government. But the arrogance and sense of entitlement that blinds Sir Henry to dealing with the Zulu in a just and legal manner affects all the participants involved, from the highest government official to the lowest private. It is the mistaken belief that technology, (exemplified here by rockets, cannons and rifles) somehow gives nations the right to take by force whatever they want. Handing Chelmsford his orders, Sir Henry asks, "Does this cover, Frederick what we both know to be right?" "Most excellently, Sir Henry." He replies. It is as if they both need spoken confirmation that the crime they are about to commit is in fact justified.

This English disdain is not just reserved for the Zulu, but for fellow countrymen as well. After Col. Hamilton-Brown, robustly played by Nigel Davenport refuses his table in order to be with his men still on the march, Chelmsford contemptuously warns his aide-de-camp, Lt. Hartford, sensitively played by Ronald Pickup to, "Learn nothing from that Irishman, except how not to behave." But his real distaste is reserved for Col. Anthony Durnford, a rough-hewn Irishman who has a way with the native troops. With his understanding of the Zulu warrior and his knowledge of the topography, Durnford would obviously be of great use in the coming campaign, but almost immediately there is tension between the two men. And with Burt Lancaster as Durnford it is easy to see why Chelmsford might feel threatened. Even with the use of only one arm, he is a natural leader of men, intelligent and charismatic and unlike Chelmsford he respects the Zulu. It is one of Lancaster's sage portrayals and this time he sports an Irish accent. Dialects were never one of his strong points and this one doesn't completely convince, but it is consistent and it underscores Durnford's isolation among the English who make up most of Chelmsford's staff. More importantly, even at 65, Lancaster has a bravado and dash which makes it understandable how he might warm the heart of beautiful young woman. Fanny Colenso so loved the older Durnford that she went on a one woman crusade to clear his name when the official inquiry into the disaster attempted to shift the blame for it onto him.

A great cast is well used in many telling vignettes. Denholm Elliot as the gentle Col. Pulliene has a moving death scene. Simon Ward as William Vereker represents what is best of the British aristocracy abroad and he quickly becomes disenchanted with the war, ("A very dirty business, indeed.") Michael Jayston as Col. Crealock, Chelmsford's secretary catches all the charm and tact needed for that difficult position. Freddie Jones and Anna Calder-Marshall as Bishop Colenso and his daughter Fanny, having lived among the Zulu are righteously indignant at the prospect of war. Ronald Lacey as Correspondent Norris Newman delights in skewering the official lies about the war. Peter Vaughn as Quartermaster Bloomfield, whose obsession in accounting for every cartridge and shell would have such horrific consequences is marvelous. Simon Sabela makes a very impressive King Cetshwayo in one of the opening sequences to the film and Bob Hoskins as tough Sergeant Major Williams is a lot of fun. With great battle scenes and a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein, "Zulu Dawn" is a worthy companion to "Zulu".

Reviewed by transkei 8 / 10

Review of "ZULU DAWN" - by one of the crew & cast

This movie had the potential of being great - what with us going well over budget ($52mill) We had the stars - most being very professional but with two major flaws - with incompetents such as Douglas Hickox and Peter O'Toole (directly responsible for the over-budgeting) 2nd Unit Director, David Tomblin and Peter Mc Donald - 2n Unit film Director were largely responsible for saving the production - in many more ways than one.

Our skeleton crew had to re-shoot many scenes. It took a lot of serious brainstorming and communication with the amaZulu to be able to complete this very important depiction of one of many battlers that took place between the "natives" and the invading colonialist (Boer & British) armies.

The passion, pathos, emotion and pain of reliving this momentous battle had an immense effect on myself, especially as I was one of the isiZulu Interpretors and Liaison people - as well as one of the second assistants.

The scenery may well have been spectacular; but working in such close/intimate - trusting proximity with 6000 amaZulu warriors was an experience beyond all comprehension.

I still regard this movie to be a very valuable one - especially since the fall of the previous South African regime and highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Aylmer 8 / 10

one of the last great epic war films - also the only good "Prequel" in history

Not perfect, but awesome in its spectacle and casting, ZULU DAWN makes a fine companion piece to it's earlier sequel, ZULU.

DAWN starts fairly slowly with lots of lengthy contrasting scenes in Zululand and Natal, showing a big rift between the comfortable life of the British Colonials in Natal vs. the primitive barbarism of the Zulus. It's only inevitable that conflict later comes in one way or another and boy does it ever! The final battle scene consumes roughly the last 30 minutes of the movie and it's very exciting to see roughly 1200 British soldiers swiftly get overrun by a 30,000 strong army of Zulu warriors armed with spears. The red coats mow down wave after wave of Zulus but they just keep coming. The best scenes show the Zulu wave murdering wounded soldiers lying in their beds and then even running through the poor mess cooks! Then comes one of the best shots in any epic film (reminding me of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and BATTLE OF NERETVA) with one excellent long shot where the entire background shows the Zulus swarming through the British tents while in the foreground a Zulu stabs and British soldier to death.

The main disappointment here is that Peter O'Toole is a bit underused and in his rather 2-dimensional presentation of Lord Chelmsford as an uptight snob really doesn't have the complexity or larger than life impact that one would usually expect from him. The rest of the cast comes off great though, especially Denholm Elliot, Peter Vaughan, Bob Hoskins, and especially Simon Ward. The musical score is very good as well, though at times possibly a little distracting and oppressive.

Hats off to the cinematographer and location managers for this one - I believe ZULU DAWN was shot at the actual South African locations near the real battle (though Isandlwana hill was too modernized and built up to use for the film), so the authenticity of this film shall probably go unequaled into history. I heartily recommend this film to any fan of large-scale war and action films - just hang in there for the climax as it's one of the finest in all filmdom.

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