Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Action Adventure Movie: ZULU (1964)

Work has slowed down around here, and the weather has heated up. I actually had quite a good day at work yesterday, and managed to get out an hour early. After picking up dinner makings and some cold beer (Dos Equis is common here at Chez Badelaire in the summer months) I found myself flipping through my Netflix instant queue, and I found the perfect movie to kick off a good summer:

If you're too lazy to look up the Battle of Rorke's Drift, I'm not going to do it for you, and if you've never heard of it, then you're simply rubbish. So off you go then, lads and lasses, and no coming back until you've schooled yourself right proper. I'll be enjoying a pint over here until you finish.

Returned, have you? Brilliant.

To me, this is one of the great classic war movies. It deals with a relatively small, unimportant British military action, but it is really the stuff legends are made of, as attested to the 11 Victoria Crosses and other medals handed out to the survivors of the battle. The British killed or wounded close to a thousand Zulus, while taking around three dozen casualties of their own. And let's not forget they are fighting in some pretty snappy duds.

And for those of you who might be cringing at the idea of a war movie that may boil down into "white guys killing black guys", ZULU treats the antagonists very well. Yes, many of them die in droves, but the British are very respectful of their enemies, and the Zulus as a people and a culture are handled with a good deal of honor and respect. No stupid, bloodthirsty savages here; just proud warriors looking to prove themselves against a worthy enemy.

There are a number of clips out there, but some are of pretty poor quality. Here's a very good looking synopsis of the film:


Tom Johnson said...

I saw this great movie in 1964, while stationed with the U.S. Army in France. I've never seen it since, but remember it as a fine film.

Machine Trooper said...

Made well before "Zulu Dawn," but Rourke's Drift took place after the events depicted in that flick.

I thought "Zulu" was a fairly honest attempt to depict history as it might have happened. Had I been a British soldier, I might very well have peed my starched trousers upon seeing all those waves of warriors heading for my position.

The numbers vs. firepower considerations this film never fails to conjure up makes me think of Napoleon's squares in Egypt, decimating hordes of Moslem cavalry. Another gut-check if you're a lowly musketeer.

Skata said...

George MacDonald Fraser has some interesting things to say about ZULU in his book HOLLYWOOD HISTORY OF THE WORLD.