- 2 hr 19 min
Zulu, released in 1964, is a historical war film set in South Africa. The movie is loosely based on the Battle of Rorke's Drift, which occurred on January 22-23, 1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War. The movie's director, Cy Endfield, who was also one of the writers, tried to make the movie as historically accurate as possible, though there are some minor inaccuracies.
The movie revolves around the Battle of Rorke's Drift, where a small unit of British soldiers, led by Lieutenant John Chard (played by Stanley Baker), fight off an attack by a vast Zulu army. The story is told through the eyes of Lieutenant Chard and his colleague, Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (played by Jack Hawkins), who are both trying to prove their worth as commanding officers.
The movie's primary focus is the interplay between the two Lieutenants, who while having different personalities and priorities, are forced to work together to defend the mission station at Rorke's Drift against the much larger Zulu army. The two menâs personal issues with each other, at first, make it difficult to work together to defend the station. However, once the fight breaks out, they put their differences aside and fight side by side. Both actors, Stanley Baker and Jack Hawkins, give convincing performances, and the audience can feel the tension and fear coursing through them as they try to prevent the mission station's destruction.
The movie's supporting cast also gives an excellent performance, with special mention to Michael Caine, who made his film debut with this movie, and Ulla Jacobsson, who played a Swedish missionary named Margareta Wittstock. The scenes between Jacobsson and Baker are particularly noteworthy as they provide an intimate glimpse into the personal lives of two strangers in dire circumstances.
The movie's sound design is masterfully done, with the haunting sound of Zulu war chants creating an ominous atmosphere through much of the film. The battle scenes are well-choreographed, giving the audience an excellent portrayal of the chaos of war. The violence is intense, but not gratuitous, and it gets the audience to understand the scale and horror of the fighting.
The movie does not shy away from the brutality of the British Empire's colonization of Africa, and the soldiers are portrayed as flawed and imperfect human beings, with different motives for being there. The Zulu people's conflict is also given substantial attention, though not as much as it should have, considering its historical significance.
Despite being a war movie, Zulu is also a movie about the human condition, exploring themes of bravery, sacrifice, and the futility of war. As a whole, the movie is a superbly crafted piece of cinema, combining excellent acting, sound, and cinematography to create a compelling story. While some might criticize the movie for its historical inaccuracies or for having a mainly white cast in a movie about an African conflict, the fact remains that Zulu is a classic movie that has stood the test of time. It is a film that should be seen both for its entertainment value and its artistic merit.
Zulu is a 1964 action movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 19 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7 and a MetaScore of 77.