Thursday, July 21, 2016


I watched this classic last night, and though mostly forgotten today, I can whole heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in an old style action/war flick.

This was Michael Caine's first major movie roll, and he is excellent in it.  The narration is by Richard Burton. The Zulu king is played by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the actual grandson of the character in the film. The score by Michael Barry is so good I found it on the internet and have it on my iTunes library.

Colour Sergeant Bourne stiffens the line.

Also, it presents a refreshingly positive view of the native Zulu tribesmen, who, fresh off a big victory against British regulars, think they'll have easy pickings of only 150 soldiers holed up at Rorke's Drift, a missionary station.  4000 bad ass Zulu Impis cocky from their recent shellacking of the Redcoats vs. 150 assorted Brits expecting to die looked like great odds.

I'll leave it there, but both sides come out quite honorably.  I could watch this movie over and over.


  1. It is a great movie. There were a number of Victoria Crosses awarded as well.

  2. I have both of the Zulu movies. My sons and I watch them about every six months, also the Man who would be King and Gunga Din. We love the old stuff.


  3. One of my favorites. An extraordinary tale of valor.

    On both sides.

    1. Yeah, both sides. Very different cultures, but in a way, very similar in the military tradition of bravery.

  4. The movie based a lot of history on "Washing of the Spears" by Donald Morris (former CIA case officer who worked in S. Africa), who I know. I think that he died a couple of years back. RIP, but he was wrong on many accounts --- none of which diminish the valor of the men who held the drift. If you want a TRUE historical account read the books by Col. Mike Snook

    How Can Man Die Better
    Like Wolves on the Fold: The Defense of Rorke's Drift

    Both of those books are HIGHLY recommended.

  5. Excellent movie, also see Michael Cain in "The Man Who Would Be King", it's just as good.
    We lived in South Africa for several years and visited the battlefield.
    We also knew many Zulus and they all know of the battle and speak of it.
    Interesting historical note, the Zulus were never conquered and Kwa-Zulu Natal is a semi-autonomous province within South Africa.

  6. The immediate reaction to news of the impending battle caused the chief engineer (also senior officer) to set up low makeshift walls around the mission perimeter as an encumbrance to charging Zulus.
    One of the huge tactical disadvantages the Zulus faced against the slow firing single round Martini Henry rifles (some got off only 1 close in shot) was that while rushing men who were reloading was generally productive using the short assegai melee weapon, this time they were attacking men, behind a low wall, armed with a 50" firearm deploying a 17" bayonet with a greatly superior reach to their own short spears. The Zulus were often impaled before they could reach the Brits and Tommy stacked up dead and dying Zulus in piles before the walls which made it even more difficult to reach the Brits.