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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:

A rip-roaring blood and thunder epic 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

Actor and co-Producer James Faulkner and his family were nearly injured when a helicopter had to make an emergency suddenly forced landing. See more »

Goofs

In several shots (most notable when the Zulus first come into view of the camp) it's obvious that many of the Zulu warriors are carrying fake shields: Instead of cowhide, the shields are obviously just painted on some sort of a plate, probably plywood. 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

Referenced in Inglourious Basterds (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Straightforward recounting about the British defeat at the battle of Isandhlwana by Zulu warriors
10 October 2008 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This historical epic is a spectacular retelling of the deeds leading a bloody battle where a regiment was massacred by a force over thousands Zulus commanded by Cetschwayo(Sabela) at Zululand. In command of British force is General Lord Chelmsford well played by Peter O'Toole and an excellent Burt Lancaster plays Colonel Durnford as a tough and veteran officer. Extraordinary secondary cast formed by prestigious British actors, such as Simon Ward,John Mills, Peter Vaughn,Ronald Lacey, Michel Jayston, James Faulkner(also producer), among others. The battle scenes are magnificent with deployment of the vast forces, and exciting combats when the army try to defend from attack by thousands of Zulu warriors.Stunning cinematography with colorful landscapes and martial musical score by the master Elmer Berstein. The picture is well directed by Douglas Hickox who translates perfectly the outstanding battles. This is a prequel about 'Zulu'(1963,Cy Endfield) depicts the electrifying battle of Roarke'Drift where little more than hundred soldiers made a valiant stand against thousands Zulu warriors.

Adding more details over the largely depicted on the movie, the incidents happened of the following manner : Zulu victory over British forces 22 Jan 1879 about 160 km, north of Durban.A column led by Lord Chelmsford seeking the Zulu army camped at Isandhlwara, road to Ulundi while patrols went out to scour the district. A report was received and Chelmsford moved out with half his strength, leaving the camp occupied by six companies of the 24th Regiment, two guns, some colonial volunteers and some native contingents: about 1800 troops in all. Late in the morning , an advance post warred of the approach of a Zulu army. Then a mounted patrol found thousands of Zulus concealed in a ravines as the patrol rode to warn the camp, the Zulus followed. The camp commander spread his troops around the perimeter of the camp, but the Zulus broke through, the native contingents fled but were chased and killed. The 21 officers and 534 soldiers of the 24Th Regiment were killed where they fought , there were no wounded , no prisoners and no missing. Only about 50 Europeans and 300 Africans escaped. The invasion of Zululand was temporarily halted until reinforcements were received from Britain. Despite the defeat, the Zulus were humiliated and crushed at Roark's Drift battle.The battle of Isandhalwana was recorded in history as the worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops. In Parliament upon the downfall of his government, British Prime Minister , Benjamin Disraeli, asked the question: 'Who are these Zulus ,who are these remarkable people who defeat our generals , convert our bishops and who on this day have put an end to a great dynasty?


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