ZULU (Diamond Films, 1964)—Empire film. Director: Cy Endfield; Producers: Stanley Baker and Cy Endfield; Script: John Prebble and Cy Raker Endfield; Cinematography: Stephen Dade; Music: John Barry; Cast: Stanley Baker (Lieutenant John Chard), Jack Hawkins (Reverend Otto Witt), Ulla Jackobson (Margereta Witt), James Booth (Private Henry Hook), Michael Caine (Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead), Nigel Green (Color Sergeant Fred Bourne), Glynn Edwards (Corporal William Allen), Patrick Magee (Surgeon Major James Henry Reynolds), Richard Davies (Private William Jones), and Richard Burton (Narrator).
While John Barry's music is often associated with the James Bond series, his exciting, ominous score for Zulu is possibly his best as it perfectly captures the enormity of the challenge facing the 105 soldiers of the South Wales Borderers who successfully combated 4,000 Zulu warriors in January 1879 at Rorke's Drift in Natal, Africa. In this film, almost the last “celebration of the Empire” films, the “Welshness” of the soldiers is emphasized through their dedication to song, and the film includes a stirring rendition of “Men of Harlech” from the Welsh soldiers in response to the intimidating chant from the approaching Zulus.
The unit comprises standard British military archetypes—from the stolid bridge builder Lieutenant John Chard, thrusted into leadership when he is separated from his regiment after being despatched to build a bridge at Rorke's Drift; the aristocratic Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, who is more concerned, initially, with a neat uniform and shooting impala than military matters; and the down-toearth Color Sergeant Fred Bourne, who acts as a “fatherly” bridge between the officers and his more inexperienced soldiers; to the malingering Private Henry Hook, who redeems himself sufficiently in battle to win the Victoria Cross. Although the Zulus are not similarly differentiated, the film is careful not to depict them as savages but as warriors—the villain is the Reverend Otto Witt, who conspires to weaken the morale of the soldiers while lapsing into drunkenness as the battle approaches.