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Garrison Cap

Review Of The Film "Zulu"

The 1964 film "Zulu" tells the story from the defence of Rorke's Drift by the small garrison of Brit squaddies who had been assaulted by in excess of 4,000 Zulu warriors. The infantrymen held out while the conflicts raged in to the night of 22/23 Jan 1879. In the daybreak, the Zulus had brought an end point to the attack.

The movie stars Stanley Baker along with Michael Caine with Richard Burton narrating and was a follow up to "Zulu Dawn". This film said to the tale of the Battle of Isandlwana that took place previously that day. The opening scenes begin with the result of Isandlwana while Richard Burton recounts the telegram by Lord Chelmsford updating the government of the disaster of Isandlwana. Zulus are shown amassing weapons belonging to the dead Brit troops.

Before the battle, Rorke's Drift was a mission station run by Swedish missionary Otto Witt. As Lord Chelmsford brought the men over the Buffalo River and into Zululand from Natal, a company of the 24th Regiment remained behind to man the mission station that was being employed as a hospital and a supply depot by the English. The 2 commanding officiers were Lieutenant John Chard with the Royal Engineers performed by Stanley Baker along side Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead of the 24th played by Michael Caine. This was Caine's very first starring role.

The picture shows Chard as well as some troopers creating a bridge on the Buffalo Brook. Bromhead comes back from a hunting outing and the two talk temporarily just before scouts arrive informing the officials of the disaster at Isandlwana. Chard is seen to think overall command as he was commissioned one or two months earlier than Bromhead and though this is standard procedure, it irks Bromhead. They take a look at their options with Lieutenant Joseph Ardendorff of the Natal Native Group (NNC) who had been one of the few survivors coming from Isandlwana. Ardendorff is portrayed by Gert Van den Bergh. The Afrikanner talks about the Zulu "Horns of the Buffalo" Strategies. Bromhead thinks they should leave but Chard comes to a decision to stand and fight on ground of their choosing.

The Reverand Otto Witt and his adult girl are also in the mission station and try to have the infantrymen to run away to attempt to avoid a conflict. Witt swayed soldiers of the NNC to abandon Rorke's Drift. At this point, Chard orders Witt and his girl to go out of the mission station in their cart. At the same time, shielding lines of mealie bags and vans are being lined out to boost the lines of defence by joining the store room and the hospital. This is carried out under the watch of CSM Frank Bourne portrayed by Nigel Green.

As the Zulu warriors approached, Boer horsemen show up at Rorke's Drift. Regardless of requests from Chard, the Boers leave the Brit garrison. Instantly the fight begins with ranks of Zulu warriors facing up to the Brit defences. The Zulu warriors are mown down by concentrated fire from the soldiers of the 24th and they finally fall back. Following that, Zulu sharpshooters in the hillsides start shooting down into the mission station and the British suffer their first dead and wounded.

The Zulus continue probing with their attacks and in due course get into the hospice, setting fire to the roof in the midst. Private Henry Hook, who has so far been characterized as a good for nothing layabout, just takes over of the eventuality within the infirmary where he aids with an escape of the unwell by hacking through the walls of the infirmary. The survivors escape the burning hospital across to the final defensive position close to the store house as the battles continued through the night.

By morning, the Zulus started a war song ready for a last attack. The troops of the 24th reacted by singing "Men of Harlech". The last assault see the Zulus charge into a hail of Brit rifle fire as 3 ranks of troops fire volley after volley down into the onrushing Zulu warriors. Due to such significant losses, the Zulus eventually withdraw. The UK begin to regroup and CSM Bourne takes a role call. The Zulus come back on the hillsides looking down on the mission station however as an alternative to attacking, they sing in salute of the "fellow warriors".

The film concludes with Richard Burton narrating. He reads out the names of the 11 blokes that were awarded the Victoria Cross for the Battle of Rorke's Drift. The men who won the Victoria Cross were:

- Corporal William Wilson Allen

- Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead

-. Lieutenant John Rouse Merriot Chard

- Acting Helper Commissary James Langley Dalton

- Non-public Fredrick Hitch

- Private Alfred Henry Hook

- Non-public Robert Jones

- Non-public William Jones

- Surgeon Major James Henry Reynolds

- Corporal Christian Ferdinand Schiess

- Personal John Williams

Additionally, 5 men were also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal:

- Color Sergeant Frank Bourne

- Private John William Roy

- Second Corporal Michael McMahon

- 2nd Corporal Francis Attwood

- Wheeler John Cantwell

As with most videos primarily based on a true event, there are lots of discrepancies. Some are for creative licence although others will be oversights for a number of different reasons.

The film shows the 24th Regiment of Foot as a Welsh regiment. Although, it was not named the South Wales Borderers until 1881, 2 years after Rorke's Drift. There had been a big number (about 25%) of men from Wales in B Company, 2nd Corps, 24th Regiment of Foot but the bulk came from Britain.

The Swedish missionary Otto Witt was shown in the movie that his daughter was a grown-up. However , his 2 kids were both infants. Additionally he wasn't the pacifist the film indicates and had made it obvious he did not oppose the British intervention with Cetshawayo.

The Brit weapons were the Martini-Henry which fired a significant .45 round. It was sort of capable of causing huge harm on the body. In the flick, the injuries on shot Zulus are little. In one scene in the infirmary, a Zulu warrior who was battling hand to hand with Private Hook was shot in the back and Hook was unscathed. At such close range, the round from the Martini-Henry would have easily gone thru the Zulu and finished Hook too.

Recently Rorke's Drift is a tourism destination for visitors who would like to learn more about the Anglo Zulu War of 1879.

Michael Caine's performance in "Zulu" helped to jump start his film career. He gave an amazing performance in the story of the famous defence of Rorke's Driftduring the Anglo Zulu War.

Garrison Cap
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