Friday, August 29, 2014

Zulu Dawn (1979)

Synopsis: The British Army has one of those really shitty days (Yorktown, Cartegena de las Indias, Singapore, etc…) it doesn’t like to talk about. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “… 1939 GONE WITH THE WIND … 1962 HOW THE WEST WAS WON And now a Rip-Roaring BLOOD AND THUNDER EPIC!” [Seriously? Leaving aside the all-caps text, is it really a good idea to compare this film to two of the greatest movies ever made?]

What Did I Learn?: 1) “Difficulty never deterred a Zulu commander.” 2) “A good commander never willingly splits his force, especially in an enemy's country, before knowing their dispositions.” 3) There is no British Army medal for modesty. 

Really?: So wait – did the local colonial Governor, Sir Henry Bartle Frere really say: “Let us hope, General, that this will be the final solution to the Zulu problem”? If he didn’t, that’s some extremely heavy-handed dialogue. 

Rating: Zulu Dawn is essentially a prequel to Zulu, as it deals with the massive defeat of the British Army’s main column of 1500 men at the battle of Islandlhwana. While Zulu works because it has a tight storyline, Zulu Dawn is a sprawling film with a few too many characters (only Burt Lancaster’s Colonel Durnford and Simon Ward’s Lt Vereker are at all likeable). Still, Zulu Dawn’s production values are top-notch, and it boasts an impressive cast. 7/10 stars.

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