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Zulu

original film poster
Directed by Cy Endfield
Produced by Stanley Baker
Cy Endfield
Written by John Prebble
Cy Endfield
Narrated by Richard Burton
Starring Stanley Baker
Jack Hawkins
Ulla Jacobsson
James Booth
Michael Caine
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Stephen Dade
Editing by John Jympson
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (non-US)
Embassy Pictures (US)
Release date(s) 22 January 1964 (UK)
Running time 139 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget US$2,000,000[1]
Followed by Zulu Dawn

Zulu is a 1964 historical war film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War. Although the film was portraying reality, many historical features are inaccurate.

Contents

Background

The film was directed by blacklisted American screenwriter[2] Cy Endfield and produced by Stanley Baker and Endfield, with Joseph E. Levine as executive producer. The screenplay is by John Prebble and Endfield, based on an article by Prebble, a historical writer. The music is by John Barry and the cinematography by Stephen Dade. The film stars Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, in his first starring role, with a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Nigel Green, Paul Daneman, Glynn Edwards and Patrick Magee. The opening and closing narration is spoken by Richard Burton. The film was made by Diamond Films, Stanley Baker's newly-formed production company,[2] and distributed by Paramount Pictures in all countries except the United States, where it was distributed by Embassy Pictures.

The film was compared by Baker to a Western movie, with the traditional roles of the United States Cavalry and Native Americans taken by the British and the Zulus respectively. The film acknowledges the Zulus' bravery. Director Endfield showed a Western to Zulu extras to demonstrate the concept of film acting and how he wanted the warriors to conduct themselves.[2]

Most of the characters in the film were based on actual participants of the battle, but their behaviour is mostly fictional – something that has provoked disapproval: in an interview on the DVD, the descendants of Private Hook object to his negative portrayal in the film (he is depicted as a thief and malingerer, though his character acts bravely near the end of the movie during some desperate fighting). Indeed, Hook's elderly daughters walked out of the film's 1964 London premiere, angry at the way their father had been depicted.

A prequel, Zulu Dawn, about the Battle of Isandhlwana which immediately preceded the Battle of Rorke's Drift, was released in 1979. It was also written by Cy Endfield, and starred Burt Lancaster and Peter O'Toole.

Plot

In 1879, a communiqué from British South Africa to the government in London, narrated by Richard Burton, details the crushing defeat of a British force at the hands of the Zulus at the Battle of Isandhlwana. The first scene shows a grassy landscape with many dead British soldiers, while victorious Zulus gather their weapons.

A mass Zulu marriage ceremony witnessed by missionary Otto Witt (Jack Hawkins), his daughter (Ulla Jacobsson) and Zulu King Cetshwayo (Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi) is interrupted by a messenger who informs Cetshwayo of the great victory earlier in the day.

A company of the British Army's 24th Regiment of Foot, depicted as a Welsh regiment, is using the missionary station of Rorke's Drift in Natal as a supply depot and hospital for their invasion force across the border in Zululand. Upon receiving news of Isandhlwana from the Witts and that a large enemy force is advancing their way, Lieutenant John Chard (Stanley Baker) of the Royal Engineers assumes command of the small British detachment, being senior to Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine). Realising that they cannot outrun the Zulu army, especially with wounded soldiers, Chard decides to fortify the station and make a stand, using wagons, sacks of mealie, and crates of ship's biscuit. When Witt becomes drunk and starts demoralising the men with his dire predictions, causing the soldiers of the Natal Native Contingent to desert, Chard orders him and his daughter to leave in their carriage.

As the Zulu impis approach, a contingent of Boer horsemen arrives. They advise Chard that defending the station is hopeless before they flee, despite Chard's desperate pleas for them to stay. Zulu sharpshooters open fire on the station from a neighbouring hill. Over the next few hours, wave after wave of Zulu attacks are repulsed. The attackers succeed in setting fire to the hospital, leading to intense fighting between British patients and Zulu warriors as the former try to escape the flames. Malingering Private Henry Hook (James Booth) surprises everyone by taking charge in the successful breakout. Attacks continue into the night, finally forcing the British to withdraw into a tiny redoubt built from supply crates and mealie bags.

The next morning, at dawn, the Zulus withdraw several hundred yards and begin singing a war chant; the British respond by singing "Men of Harlech". In the last assault, just as it seems the Zulus will finally overwhelm the tired defenders, a reserve of soldiers Chard had hidden behind a final redoubt emerge, form into three ranks, and pour volley after volley into the stunned natives. They withdraw after sustaining heavy casualties. Later, the Zulus sing a song to honour the bravery of the British defenders and leave. The film ends with a narration by Richard Burton, listing defenders who received the Victoria Cross, including Private Hook. Eleven were awarded for the actual fighting at Rorke's Drift, the most ever for a regiment in a single battle in British military history.

Cast

Production

Zulu was made at Twickenham Film Studios, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK and on location in South Africa, at Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, and the national parks of KwaZulu-Natal. The Super Technirama 70 cinematographic process was used.

Michael Caine, who at this time in his career was primarily playing bit parts, was originally up for the role of Private Henry Hook, which went to James Booth. According to Caine, he was extremely nervous during his screen test for the part of Bromhead, and director Cy Endfield told him that it was the worst screen test he had ever seen, but they were casting Caine in the part anyway because the production was leaving for South Africa shortly and they hadn't found anyone else for the role.[2]

Caine's performance in Zulu won him praise from reviewers, and his next film role would be as the star of The Ipcress File in which he was reunited with Nigel Green.[2]

Reception

Zulu received highly positive reviews from critics, earning a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, and Pablo Villaca of Cinema em Cena gave the film three stars. Dennis Schwartz of Ozus Movie Reviews praised Caine's performance, calling it, "one of his most splendid hours on film" and graded the film A.

Awards and honours

Zulu received no Academy Award nominations, but Ernest Archer was nominated for a BAFTA Award for "Best Colour Art Direction" on the film.[2] In 2004, however, the magazine Total Film named Zulu the 37th greatest British movie of all time, and it was voted eighth in the British television programme The 100 Greatest War Films.[3] Empire Magazine named Zulu #351 on their list of the 500 greatest films.

Rights

In the US, Zulu officially lapsed into the public domain, meaning there have been several issues of the film on home video/LaserDisc/DVD in North America — most notably an LD release by the Criterion Collection which retains the original stereophonic soundtrack and taken from a 70mm print.

An official DVD release (with a mono soundtrack as the original stereo tracks were not available) was later issued by Embassy's successor-in-interest, StudioCanal (with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer handling video distribution). StudioCanal (the current owner of the Embassy theatrical library) had acquired US control of the film in 2000 after its copyright was restored. Sony Pictures Television owns TV and digital rights to the film in the US.

Outside the USA, the film has always been owned by Paramount Pictures.

Merchandising

  • A soundtrack album by John Barry featuring one side of film score music and one side of "Zulu Stamp" music was released on the Ember Records in the UK and United Artists Records outside the Commonwealth
  • A comic book by Dell Publishing was released to coincide with the film that features scenes and stills not in the completed film
  • Conte toy soldier playsets decorated with artwork and stills from the film were produced.
  • Though not advertised as a film tie in, in the United States in the mid 1960's, a child's toy blowgun the size of a ball point called a "Zulugun" was produced that shot plastic sticking darts that reportedly were often inhaled and swallowed.[4]

In popular culture

  • The Battle of Helm's Deep sequence in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was filmed in a manner deliberately reminiscent of Zulu, according to Jackson's comments in supplemental material included in the special extended DVD edition of The Two Towers.
  • The Germanic war chant in the battle scene at the beginning of Ridley Scott's film Gladiator is the Zulu war chant from Zulu. In the video commentary, Scott revealed that Zulu was one of his favourite movies.
  • The Battle of O'Rourke's Ford in S.M. Stirling's science fiction novel On the Oceans of Eternity is a recreation of the movie premise, right down to a malingering Private Hook.
  • In the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000, made by Games Workshop, there is a battle very similar to the one featured in Zulu. The only major difference was that the British soldiers were replaced with Praetorian Imperial Guard, and the Zulu forces with Ork hordes.

Historical inaccuracies

Historical picture of Zulu warriors from about the same time as the events depicted in Zulu

Although writer Cy Endfield consulted with a Zulu tribal historian for information from Zulu oral tradition about the attack,[2] a number of historical inaccuracies in the film have been noted:

The regiment

  • The 24th Regiment of Foot is described as a Welsh regiment: in fact, although based in Brecon in south Wales, its designation was the 24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot. It did not become the South Wales Borderers until 1881. Of the soldiers present, 49 were English, 32 Welsh, 16 Irish and 22 others of indeterminate nationality.[5][6][7]
  • The song "Men of Harlech" features prominently as the regimental song; it did not become so until later. At the time of the battle, the regimental song was "The Warwickshire Lad". There was no "battlefield singing contest" between the British and the Zulus.[8 ]
  • The British infantrymen of the Anglo-Zulu War did not wear sparkling white pith helmets. They were stained a tan colour (with tea or coffee) without helmet plates.[9]

Chard and Bromhead

  • Gonville Bromhead was partially deaf, a disability not mentioned in the film. All the characters in the film pronounce Bromhead's name as it is spelt. In reality it was pronounced 'Brumhead'. He was also significantly older than portrayed and like many Victorian gentlemen of the period sported substantial facial hair.He was also of stocky build and dark-haired,unlike Caine who is taller and fair-haired.
  • John Chard, portrayed by Baker as a cleanshaven man with combed back hair, actually sported a large handlebar moustache and more traditional sideparting in his hair.
  • The seniority of Chard over Bromhead (measured by their dates of commission) was three years, not three months as in the film. Also, there was no dispute over command. Lieutenant Chard was left in charge, due to seniority, by Major Henry Spalding well before the battle. Spalding rode off to get reinforcements, but his motives have been questioned.[10]
  • Both Chard and Bromhead are portrayed as being intelligent and able officers. In reality, Chard was widely regarded as inefficient and had a reputation for laziness.[11] Bromhead was a popular officer within the 24th, acquiring the nickname "Gunny." However, he never seems to have been trusted with any meaningful responsibilities (possibly because of his deafness). It was for this reason that his company was selected to guard Rorke's Drift, a position it was never imagined would be attacked.
  • The building of defensive ramparts and initial defence of Rorke's Drift was organised by Acting Assistant Commissary James Langley Dalton. His distinction was rewarded with the Victoria Cross, presented a year after the battle. The film gives most of the credit to Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead. The real Dalton had retired in 1871 as a Quartermaster Sergeant after 22 years of service in the 85th Regiment of Foot of the British Army before volunteering for the Commissariat and Transport Department. The film, however, portrays Dalton as something of an effete character, who does little that might be called heroic. This makes his award seem something of a mystery. In reality, much of the credit for the defence of the mission station must in fact go to Dunne and Dalton of the commissariat department.
  • During the period when the mission station is fortified, the wagons used in the barricades are seen to be tipped over onto their sides. In reality, they remained upright, and the gaps between were plugged with biscuit boxes and mealie bags (Chard had placed them this way so that the Zulus would have to climb over the wagons to engage the British soldiers standing behind them, thus giving the defenders more time to shoot).

The Witts

There are several errors concerning the Swedish missionaries, the Witts. In the film, Witt is depicted as a middle aged widower, a pacifist and drunkard, who has an adult daughter called Margareta. In reality, Otto Witt was aged 30, and had a wife, Elin, and two infant children. Witt's family were at Oscarberg 30 km away at the time of the battle. On the morning of the battle, Otto Witt, with the chaplain, George Smith and Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds had ascended Shiyane, the large hill near the station, and noticed the approach of the Zulu force across the Buffalo River. Far from being a pacifist, Witt had cooperated closely with the army and negotiated a lease to put Rorke's Drift at Lord Chelmsford's disposal. Witt made it clear that he did not oppose British intervention against Cetshwayo. He had stayed at Rorke's Drift because he wished "to take part in the defence of my own house and at the same time in the defence of an important place for the whole colony, yet my thoughts went to my wife and to my children, who were at a short distance from there, and did not know anything of what was going on". He therefore left on horseback to join his family shortly before the battle.[12]

Weaponry

  • The officers are shown using Webley Mk VI .455 revolvers which were not introduced until 1915 (36 years after the events depicted in the film) instead of the Beaumont-Adams revolvers that Bromhead and Chard actually used. However, the British officer of the time was allowed to use any sort of sidearm he wished, as long as it fired .455 ammunition. Officers often privately purchased Webley top-break revolvers (in 1879 not yet officially adopted for service) somewhat similar in appearance to the Mk VI Webley. These Webley models had been put on the market during the 1870s - such as the Webley-Green army model 1879 or the Webley-Pryse model. So, whilst the Webley model Mk VI was not yet developed when the film was set, the design is typical of Webley revolvers of the period and can be seen as an example of artistic licence.
  • Several men can be seen using Lee-Enfield Mk. I bolt-action rifles instead of the historically correct Martini-Henry.[8 ] Apparently, they ran out of .450/577 blanks during filming - close observation shows that, in many cases, the actors are simply dry-shooting the empty Martini-Henrys and simulating the recoil, with the gunshot sound effect dubbed in later.
  • None of the rifles used by the Zulus were taken from dead British soldiers after the Battle of Isandlwana, as NNC Lieutenant Adendorff in the film suggests. The Zulus attacking Rorke's Drift were largely older and married regiments. Their assignment at Isandlwana had been to cut off retreat and they had not been on the battlefield itself. Most of their firearms were obsolete Brown Bess muskets, purchased decades earlier from traders, including James Rorke.
  • Colour-Sergeant Bourne is depicted as wielding a standard triangular spike-bayonet. However, noncommissioned officers at this period were issued the P1860/75 sword-bayonet. This may be artistic licence however, suggesting he picked up a spare rifle with ordinary bayonet rather than his own- especially considering sword-bayonets were notoriously cumbersome and unwieldy weapons.

The men of the regiment

  • Many of the men had full beards at the time of the battle. The film depicts them as largely clean shaven, with some sporting carefully-tended moustaches or sideburns.
  • Surgeon Reynolds is played by Patrick Magee as a middle-aged Irishman. In actuality Reynolds was thirty-five at the time of the battle. During the Battle of Rorke's Drift, Reynolds went round the barricades, distributing ammunition and tending to wounded there, something that is not shown in the film.[13] During the closing voiceover, he is also incorrectly referred to as "Surgeon-Major, Army Hospital Corps"; Reynolds was of the Army Medical Department, and was not promoted to the rank of Surgeon-Major until after the action at Rorke's Drift.[14] The pacifism apparent in Magee's portrayal is also somewhat anachronistic and not based on the historical Surgeon Reynolds.
  • Private Henry Hook VC is depicted as a rogue with a penchant for alcohol; in fact he was a model soldier who later became a sergeant; he was also a teetotaller. While the film has him in the hospital "malingering, under arrest", he had actually been assigned there specifically to guard the building.[15] The filmmakers felt that the story needed an anti-hero who redeems himself in the course of events, but the film's presentation of Hook caused his daughters to walk out of the film premiere in disgust.[16]
  • Conversely, Corporal William Allen is depicted as a model soldier; in fact, he had recently been demoted from sergeant for drunkenness.
  • Colour Sergeant Bourne (1854-1945) is depicted as a big, hardened, middle-aged veteran; in fact, he was of smaller stature and, aged 23, the youngest colour sergeant in the British Army.[17] He was called 'The Kid' by his men.[18] Sergeant Bourne would not have worn medals on his duty uniform. Moreover, Green's costume has the chevrons on the wrong arm.
  • The role of Padre George Smith ["Ammunition" Smith] is completely ignored.[19]
  • The real Sergeant Maxfield, as in the film, was delirious with fever. However, he was too weak to leave his bed and was stabbed to death by Zulus while the other sick and injured were being evacuated from the room.
  • Private Cole was assigned to defend the hospital, not the perimeter. He was killed when he ran out of the hospital alone, possibly due to claustrophobia. Since he was killed by a bullet to the head, his last words in the film are unlikely to be authentic.
  • Corporal Christian Ferdinand Schiess was significantly younger than the actor who portrayed him. At the time of his death in 1884 – five years after the battle – he was 28 years old.[20]
  • Private Hitch was shot through the shoulder, not the leg, as Allen is in the film.
  • Sergeant Windridge, played by the film's stunt co-ordinator Joe Powell, described as The Sergeant with the Muscles, would not be able to carry two mealie bags on his shoulders, as seen in the fortifying of the post. The mealies were described as big, heavy things, weighing about 200 pounds each. For the film, the mealie-bags were filled with wood-shavings.

The Africans

  • The attack on the mission station was not ordered by King Cetshwayo, as the audience is led to believe in the film. Cetshwayo had specifically told his warriors not to invade Natal, the British Colony. The attack was led by Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande, the King's half-brother, who pursued fleeing survivors at Isandlwana across the river and then moved on to attack Rorke's Drift.
  • Captain Stephenson, and his detachment of white cavalry, claim to have come from "Durnford's Horse" when they ride up to the mission station. In reality, they were members of the Natal Native Horse, mainly composed of black riders, who had survived the Battle of Isandlwana and had ridden to Rorke's Drift to warn and aid the garrison there. The story of the black Natal Native Contingent troops' desertion is true. However, as Witt had already left, he was not responsible for their departure. They left of their own will, with Stephenson and his European NCOs.[21] These deserters were shot at and one of the NCOs, Corporal Anderson, was killed. Stephenson was later convicted of desertion at court-martial and dismissed from the army. The uniforms of the Natal Native Contingent are inaccurate; NNC troops were not issued with European-style clothes.

Others involved

  • The column of British irregular cavalry seen briefly in the film was actually at Rorke's Drift. However, Chard ordered them to leave after finding that they had little ammunition of their own.[21]

Ending

  • The ending of the film is somewhat fictitious. There was no Zulu attack at dawn on 23 January 1879, which in the film led to the singing of "Men of Harlech". There was only sparse fighting with a few remaining Zulus. The Zulus did not sing a song saluting fellow warriors, and they did not depart peacefully. They departed at the approach of a British relief column.[8 ][15]
  • The film omits the killing of wounded Zulus by British soldiers after the battle. There has been speculation that many may have been bayonetted, clubbed or shot in the battle's aftermath. (This was common practice if a small force prevailed over a much larger one, as it would have been unable to guard all the prisoners.)

See also

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Hall, Dr Sheldon Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It: The Making of the Epic Movie 2005 Tomahawk Press

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Zulu is a 1964 film that chronicles a company of British soldiers defending the mission station at Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. It is based on historical events, and marked the first major role in the long film career of Michael Caine.

Directed by Cy Endfield. Screenplay by Cy Endfield and John Prebble.
Dwarfing the Mightiest! Towering Over the Greatest!

Contents

Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead

  • Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men, don't you think?
  • Do carry on with your mudpies...
  • You mean your only plan is to stand behind a few feet of mealie bags and wait for the Zulus to attack?
  • I'll lead the men up into the hills. I know exactly how to disperse them. Ambush, you see? We cut them down in the passes!
  • Right now, I wish I were a damned ranker, like Hook or Hitch.
  • That's a bitter pill! Our own damned rifles!
  • I knew it... I knew it! They're going to attack both sides at once!

Colour Sergeant Bourne

  • If you're sick in hospital, I suggest you go and lie down.
  • Clap your 'eads in afore they fall off!
  • All right, then! Nobody told you to stop working!
  • A prayer's as good as a bayonet on a day like this.
  • I shall be exalted among the heathen. I shall be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us.
  • Mister Witt Sir, be quiet now, will you? There's a good gentleman. You'll upset the lads.
  • Because we're here, lad. No one else. Just us.

Reverend Otto Witt

  • In Europe, young women accept arranged marriages to rich men. Perhaps the Zulu girls are luckier, getting a brave man.
  • You will all be killed like those this morning -- and now the sick in their beds!
  • Stay not to kill and be killed! The curse of Cain will be upon you! 'Am I my brother's keeper?' asked Cain. Yea, we are all our brothers' keepers!
  • Boy! Hear me, boy. Will you be Cain and kill your brother? 'Thou shalt not kill,' saith the Lord. You believe in the Lord's Word, don't you? Go to the others, boy. Go to the others...
  • You have made a covenant with death, and with hell you are in agreement! Death awaits you all! You're all going to DIE!

Private Henry Hook

  • Stuff me with green apples! You know, if a dog was as sick as him, they'd shoot him.
  • And what for? Did I ever see a Zulu walk down the City Road? No! So what am I doing here?
  • We're next, boys! This is the blind spot. Even if those flamin' officers haven't seen it, I'll bet the Zulus have.
  • Out you get, Hooky, you done your bit!
  • Where's me bloody Sergeant?

Surgeon Major Reynolds

  • Brandy's for heroes, Mister Hook. The rest of you will make do with flies in your meat, boils in your skin, and dysentery in your bellies.
  • Don't take it so badly, Mister Witt. Isn't this as good a place as any for a man to be when he's in pain?
  • It's all right, boy. You sleep now. I'm damned if I can tell you why.
  • Damn you, Chard! Damn all you butchers!

Others

  • Margareta Witt: [watching Zulu mass-wedding ceremony] It's... splendid, I know. But it's quite horrible, too, isn't it?
  • Margareta Witt: Animals! All of you, animals!
  • Commissary Dalton: Now, don't distress yourself, my dear fellow. There's your own officer, over there. You go and speak to him.
  • Commissary Dalton: Careful! POT that chap, somebody! Good fellow. Good fellow.
  • Private Thomas: I thought I was tired of farming. No adventure in it. But when you look at it, this country's not a bit as good as Bala and the lake there. Not really green, like. And the soil... there's no moisture in it. Nothing to hold a man in his grave.
  • Private Jones-716: Well, there's a silly man, by damn! He's got himself into a private war.
  • Lieutenant Stevenson: Look at my men! If they're going to die, they'll die on their own farms. You're the professionals. You fight here if you want to.
  • Corporal Allen: You slovenly soldier.
  • Private Hitch: [after being shot] C-can I... undo me, me tunic now?
  • Private Owen: I think they've got more guts than we have, boyo!
  • Sergeant Maxfield: That's my boy, Hook! You're a soldier now! I've made a soldier of you!
  • Private Williams: Hooky, that's a flogging offense! For God's sake, man, get out!

Dialogue

(A visiting missionary figures out why the Zulus are so agitated.)
Mr. Witt: Oh, Lord in heaven...
Margareta Witt: What is it, father?
Mr. Witt: A thousand British soldiers have been massacred. While I stood here talking peace, a war has started.

Hughes: Hey, Hooky, who's doing all that shooting, eh? Who do you think?
Hook: Who do you think? Mister Flamin' Bromhead's shooting flamin' defenseless animals for the flamin' officers' flamin' dinner.
Hughes: Wish he'd bring us some fresh meat. Wonder what they're cooking for supper.
Hook: Same as usual - horse meat in axle grease.

Lieutenant Chard: John Chard, Royal Engineers.
Lieutenant Bromhead: Bromhead, 24th. That's my post up there. You've come down from the column?
Chard: That's right. They want a bridge across the river.
Bromhead: Who said you could use my men?
Chard: They were sitting around on their backsides doing nothing.
Bromhead: Rather you asked first, old boy.
Chard: I was told their officer was out hunting.
Bromhead: Oh... yes. I'll tell my men to clean your kit.
Chard: Don't bother.
Bromhead: No bother - not offering to do it myself. Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men, don't you think? Well, chin-chin. Do carry on with your mud pies.

Lt. Chard: Are you supposed to be here?
Private Owen: Yes, sir. That is... no, sir. Only you've got my only solo tenor out there working in the cold water.
Chard: Well, I hope he sings better than he works.
Owen: Indeed he does, sir.
Chard: So, your officer lets you have a choir.
Owen: Every Welsh regiment has a choir, sir. Mister Bromhead is English, but he is a proper gentleman.
Chard: Yes, he's certainly that.

Lt. Bromhead: The entire column? It's damned impossible! Eight hundred men?
Adendorff: Twelve hundred men. There were four hundred native levies, also.
Bromhead: Damn the levies, man, more cowardly blacks.
Adendorff: What the hell do you mean, "cowardly blacks"? They died on your side, didn't they? And who the hell do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? The Grenadier Guards?
...
Lt. Chard: Adendorff, are you staying?
Adendorff: Is there anywhere else to go?
Chard: Talk to our levies, will you? Tell them whose side they're on.

Surgeon Reynolds: You know what you've got there, my malingering Hector?
Private Hook: No, sir. Uh, Hook's the name, sir.
Reynolds: You've got a fine handsome boil, my friend. There's one glistening boil for every soldier in Africa. You may not win any medals on this campaign, but you'll certainly get more boils. For every gunshot wound I probe, I expect to lance three boils.
Hook: Uh, a spot of medicinal brandy would set me up, sir.
Reynolds: Brandy's for heroes, Mr. Hook. The rest of you will make do with boils in your skin, flies in your meat, and dysentery in your bellies. Now - this will hurt you a lot more than it will me, I'm happy to say.

Lt. Chard: Did the runner bring orders?
Lt. Bromhead: He brought orders to the commander of this post.
Chard: To do what?
Bromhead: To hold our ground.
Chard: To hold our ground? What military genius thought up that one? Somebody's son and heir, who got a commission before he learned to shave?
Bromhead: I rather fancy he's nobody's son and heir now.

Lt. Chard: All right, what's the date of your commission?
Lt. Bromhead: Now, don't tell me... I suppose you have seniority. 1872, May.
Chard: 1872, February.
Bromhead: Oh, well, I suppose there are such things as gifted amateurs. If I may —
Chard: Are you questioning my right to command?
Bromhead: Oh, not your right, old boy. Never mind. We can... cooperate, as they say. I'll be here, won't I?

Mr. Witt: You will all be killed like those this morning - and now the sick in their beds! All of you!
Lt. Chard: I don't think so, Mr. Witt. The Army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day.
Lt. Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

Lt. Chard: What's our strength?
Lt. Bromhead: Seven officers, including surgeon, commissaries, and so on... oh, and Adendorff now, I suppose. Wounded and sick, thirty-six, fit for duty, ninety-seven, and about forty native levies. Not much of an army for you.

Adendorff: The classical attack of the Zulus is in the shape of a fighting bull buffalo, like this (he uses a bayonet to draw diagram in the dirt): the head, the horns, and the loins. First the head moves forward and the enemy naturally moves in to meet it - but it's only a feint. The warriors in the head then disperse to form the encircling horns, and the enemy is drawn in on the loins, and the horns close in on the back and sides. (He stabs the bayonet into the ground.) Finish.
Lt. Bromhead: It looks, uh, jolly simple, doesn't it?
Adendorff: Oh, it's jolly deadly, old boy.
Bromhead: Good show, Adendorff, we'll make an Englishman of you yet!
Adendorff: No, thanks. I'm a Boer. The Zulus are the enemies of my blood. What are you doing here?
Bromhead: You don't object to our help, I hope.
Adendorff: It all depends on what you damned English want for it afterward.

Lt. Chard: Now pay attention. Are there any walking sick without rifles?
"Dutchy" Schiess: Me!
Sergeant Windridge: You, Dutchy? You couldn't walk to the latrine.
Schiess: This is not my first action. Come on.
(Chard and Windridge exit. Schiess checks his rifle over.)
Jones-716: What's he going to do, Five-nine-three?
Jones-593: Oh, I think he wants to be a hero, Seven-one-six.
Schiess: Haven't you rednecks got names instead of numbers?
Jones-593: This is a Welsh regiment, man - though there are some foreigners from England in it, mind. I am Jones from Builth Cywyd. He is Jones from Builth Wells. There are four more Joneses in C Company. Confusing, isn't it, Dutchy? What's your name, then?
Schiess: It's Schiess - and I'm not Dutch! I'm Swiss.
Jones-716: Well, there's a silly man, by damn. He's got himself into a private war!
Schiess: I belong to Natal Mounted Police.
Jones-593: (sharp intake of breath) That true, then? He's a Peeler, Seven-one-six, come to arrest the Zulus.
Schiess: What do you know about Zulus?
Jones-716: Bunch of savages, isn't it?
Schiess: All right, how far can you rednecks march in a day?
Jones-716: Oh, fifteen, twenty miles, is it?
Schiess: A Zulu regiment can run - RUN - fifty miles, and fight a battle at the end of it!
Jones-593: Well, it's daft that is, then! I don't see no sense in running to fight a battle.

Mr. Witt: I was praying that your officer may turn to God's word.
Colour Sergeant Bourne: That's right, sir. A prayer's as good as a bayonet on a day like this.
Witt: Have you prayed?
Bourne: There'll be a time for it, sir.
Witt: What will you say?
Bourne: Oh, a bit of the Psalms, I suppose, sir. My father was a lay preacher. Great one for the Psalms, he was. There was one - well, it might have been written for a soldier.
Witt: Say it, man! Lift your voice to God.
Bourne: Now, sir?
Witt: Let them hear your voice. (He gestures toward the troops.)
Bourne: They'll know my voice when they hear it, sir.
Witt: Let them hear it now, in praise of the Lord. Call upon Him - call upon Him, man, for your salvation!
Bourne: Well, as far as I can remember, sir, it goes something like this: "He maketh wars to cease in all the world. He breaketh the bow and snappeth the spear in sunder." Do you know it, sir?
Witt: "I shall be exalted among the heathen, I shall be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us."
Bourne: That's it, sir. (to troops in work detail) All right, nobody told you to stop working! You leadbacks get sweatin'.

Lt. Chard: You didn't say a word to help, Bromhead.
Lt. Bromhead: Oh, when you're in command, old boy, you're on your own. The first lesson the general, my grandfather, taught me.

Private Williams: I'm making a loophole, see? Me and Hooky's gonna fight in here, aren't we, Hooky?
Private Hook: You're joking - I'm sick! Nobody's got any right to ask me to muck around in a flamin' battle. I'm getting out.
...
(Sergeant Maxfield rises from his sickbed to chastise Private Hook.)
Sgt. Maxfield: I know you, Hook.
Pte. Hook: Yeah, you ought to.
Maxfield: You're no good, Hook. They gave us you because you are no good to anyone - except the Queen and Sergeant Maxfield!
Hook: Thank you very much, the both of you.
Maxfield: Pick up the rifle, Hook. And get to it! I'll make a soldier of you yet.
Hook: And what for? Did I ever see a Zulu walk down the City Road? No! So what am I doing here?
Maxfield: You are here because you were a thief. And you still are one. And now, you can be a soldier... like what they pay you for.

Colour Sergeant Bourne: Face to the front. Mark the orders. Mark a target when it comes. (softly, to Pte. Hitch) Hitch, do your tunic up.
Private Hitch: My tunic?
Bourne: Do it up! Where do you think you are, man?

Private Cole: Why does it have to be us? Why us?
Colour Sgt. Bourne: Because we're here, lad. No one else. Just us.

Lt. Bromhead: Reload! Independent - fire at will!
Pte. Owen: That's very nice of him.

Lt. Bromhead: Sixty! We dropped at least sixty, wouldn't you say?
Adendorff: That leaves only three thousand nine hundred and forty.

Surgeon Major Reynolds: Did you know this boy?
Orderly: Name of Cole, sir. He was a paper-hanger.
Reynolds: Well, he's a dead paper-hanger now.

(Outside the operating room, two of the wounded take over distributing ammunition after Commissary Dalton is shot.)
Corporal Allen: Can you move your leg?
Private Hitch: Not if you want me to dance.
Allen: I want you to crawl. Come on, you slovenly soldier. We got work to do.

(Early in the second day of battle, the Zulus are singing a war-chant.)
Lt. Chard: You think the Welsh can do better than that, Owen?
Pte. Owen: Well, they've got a very good bass section, mind. But no top tenors, that's for sure.

Lt. Chard: Well, you've fought your first action.
Lt. Bromhead: Does everyone feel like this afterward?
Chard: How do you feel?
Bromhead: I feel... sick.
Chard: Well, you have to be alive to feel sick.
Bromhead: You asked me, I told you. There's... something else. I feel ashamed.

(Colour Sergeant Bourne calls the roll at the battle's end.)
Colour Sgt.Bourne: Hitch. (pauses.) Hitch, I saw you. You're alive.
Private Hitch: I am? Well, thanks very much.
Bourne: So answer the roll.
Hitch: Yes, sir!
Bourne: All right. Now get back to the hospital, where you belong.
...
Colour Sgt. Bourne: Hughes.
Pte Hughes: Excused duty!
Bourne: No comedians, please.
Hughes: Yes, Colour Sergeant!
Bourne: Say "Sir". Officer on parade.

Colour Sgt. Bourne: Sir, sentries report the Zulus have gone. All of them. It's a miracle.
Lt. Chard: If it's a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a short chamber Boxer-Henry point-four-five caliber miracle.
Sgt. Bourne: And a bayonet, sir, with some guts behind it.

[Adendorff sees the Zulus re-forming on a hill.]
Adendorff: Damn you... God damn you!
Lt. Chard: Adendorff, what are they doing? Answer me!
Adendorff: Haven't you had enough? Can't you see your damned egos don't matter anymore? We're dead.
Lt. Bromhead: (shouting at Zulus) Well, what are you waiting for? Come on! Come on!
(The Zulus begin another musical war-chant.)
Bromhead: Those bastards! They're taunting us!
Adendorff: (laughing) No, you couldn't be more wrong! They're saluting you. They're saluting fellow braves!

Cast

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