Zulu (1964) 3.93/5 (2)
3.93/52

 

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Rating: The Good – 87.1
Genre: War
Duration: 138 mins
Director: Cy Endfield
Stars: Stanley Baker, Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson

Cy Endfield’s hugely impressive account of the battle of Rorke’s Drift where 100 British soldiers stood up against thousands of Zulu warriors and held their position. Among a top cast of wonderfully fleshed out characters, a debuting Michael Caine is excellent as the privileged and somewhat effete Lt. Bromhead who must cede authority to Stanley Baker’s more dynamic Lt. Chard. Baker for his part is tremendously stoic as the film’s centre of reason, a man caught between the rougher side of life’s tracks and the first world’s notions of civilisation. The movie sits philosophically on that divide and steadily chips away at the latter by asserting the former. An early sequence in which the young Zulu men and women are mass-married in front of the a religious missionary and his daughter capture this one-sided primal dissonance rather elegantly and the film, not to mention the nature of the actual battle, continue to tease it out until its inevitable conclusion.

Zulu is, thus, defined by the steadily built tension of the battle scenes and the desperate interludes of waiting that came between them. The execution of the battle sequences is simply sublime and out-muscles anything the modern CGI battle can offer. No flashy cuts or ridiculously close close-ups either. Just plain old-fashioned choreography and steel-handed camerawork. Speaking of the latter, Stephen Dade’s glorious cinematography works a treat and is amongst the most spectacular ever to grace a war movie. Moreover, when combined with the foreboding sound of the unseen Zulu forces it becomes truly captivating. In the end, it’s the sound of this movie that lingers longest, a piece of inspired production that fits hand-in-glove with John Barry’s seminal and rousing score and guarantees Zulu’s place in the echelons of classic cinema.

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