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Zulu Dawn (1979)

A dramatization of the Battle of Isandlwana, where the British Army met its match against the Zulu nation.

Director:

Douglas Hickox

Writers:

Cy Endfield (original story and scenario), Cy Endfield (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Col. Durnford
Simon Ward ... Lt. Vereker
Denholm Elliott ... Col. Pulleine
Peter Vaughan ... Q.S.M. Bloomfield
James Faulkner ... Lt. Melvill
Christopher Cazenove ... Lt. Coghill
Bob Hoskins ... C.S.M. Williams
David Bradley ... Pte. Williams (as Dai Bradley)
Paul Copley ... Cpl. Storey
Donald Pickering ... Maj. Russell R.A.
Nicholas Clay ... Lt. Raw
Phil Daniels ... Boy Pullen
Ian Yule ... Cpl. Fields
Peter J. Elliott Peter J. Elliott ... Sentry
Brian O'Shaughnessy Brian O'Shaughnessy ... Maj. Smith R.A. (as Brian O'Shaunnessy)
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Storyline

In 1879 South Africa, the administrators of the British Cape Colony have designs to eliminate the Zulus as a hindrance to their colonial economy. To that end, the British present King Cetshwayo with an impossible ultimatum to provoke a war they are sure they can win easily with their rifles and artillery against native spears. However, that war proves more difficult than the arrogant British commander, Lord Chelmsford, expects as his overburdened army fruitlessly searches for the elusive enemy. However, in the shadow of a hill called Isandlwana, the overconfident British army learns to its sorrow just how badly they have underestimated the tactical skill and might of the Zulu nation. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The sun dawned bloodied...two great armies met face to face...and the earth trembled to the sound of the Zulu death chant! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Netherlands | USA

Language:

English | Zulu

Release Date:

15 May 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amanecer sangriento See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (as Dolby System Noise Reduction - High Fidelity)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There was some opposition to the casting of Burt Lancaster as Colonel Durnford, since, at sixty-four, he was much older than the character. See more »

Goofs

As Colonel Pulleine writes his last letter in his tent, he is holding the pen in his left hand. The shot switches to a view over his shoulder, and the pen is now in his right hand. Then as a Zulu bursts into the tent, Pulleine drops the pen from his left hand again to grab a revolver. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sir Henry Bartle Frere: [proofreading aloud the ultimatum he has just drafted] Cetshwayo's Zulu army to disband and the warriors permitted to return to their homes.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: One hundred years ago the British Colony of Natal in Southern Africa was surrounded by a vast and independent Zulu Kingdom.

In 1879, a battle took place that was forever to alter the course of Colonial history: ISANDHLWANA See more »

Connections

Follows Zulu (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Men of Harlech
(uncredited)
Traditional
Heard when the troops depart for Zululand
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Works Better As A history Lesson Than A Film
19 May 2002 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

ZULU DAWN lives in the shadow of ZULU . That's hardly surprising because ZULU is the much better film , however unlike the 1964 film DAWN does stick to historical accuracy . The British are portrayed rightly as being overconfident , arrogant and foppish and it's this hubristic attitude that has lost wars when a superpower looks down its nose at the fighting capabilities of a backward third world nation . The British almost repeated the same mistakes during the Boar war , and the French and Americans done it in south east Asia , and the red army did it in Afghanistan.

DAWN does chronicle in great depth the mistakes made at the battle of Isandlwana: Chelmsford split his forces , the army didn't reinforce the perimeter , they were spread too thinly , and the method of supplying ammo was totally flawed , but it's this that spoils the film , there is too much emphasis of what happened to cause this defeat . Despite having an all star cast ( Two of which won Oscars and a couple more who have been nominated ) there's little character focus and you care little for the people involved . The film would have worked much better if it concentrated on just Chelmsford and Bob Hoskins gruff Sgt Major instead of the many characters who drift in and out of the picture

ZULU DAWN isn't a complete waste of time though , despite the long wait the battle scenes are handled well ( But not as good as ZULU ) and like ZULU it shows that a lot of brave men died on both sides

Update March 2008 . Recent historical evidence suggests that ZULU DAWN is fairly inaccurate especially where mass ranks , or the lack of them are concerned . But still knowing what historians knew in 1979 it's still a serious attempt to portray the battle accurately at the time


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