Zulu Dawn – 1979 | 117 mins | Action, War | Colour
The supposed epic prequel to the Wales/Zululand face-off Zulu. Zulu Dawn purports to put the Zulu side of the story but still conforms to Battle Of Britain-style romantics. Telling the story of the 1879 battle of Isandlwana.that was the worst defeat imperial Britain ever suffered, there’s plenty of impressive cinematography, but you never really root for the uptight home side (who are, after all, attempting to steal their adversary’s country). Made in 1979, from a script part-written by original director Cy Endfield, this is half starched company buffers (Peter O’Toole, John Mills, Denholm Elliott) mishandling diplomatic relations with the Zulus and one half exciting action epic as the red-coated officers (Simon Ward, Michael Jayston, Christopher Cazenove, Nicholas Clay) and men (Bob Hoskins, Peter Vaughan) in the field clash with Catewayo’s fearsome Zulu nation. Burt Lancaster reprises his grizzled scout role from Ulzana’s Raid as the old bush hand who knows nothing good will come of this.
Douglas Hickox directs the people, but you can bet that all the good stuff was done by second-unit ace David Tomblin. A subject that’s yet to be successfully tackled, the performance from Peter O’Toole as General lord Chelmsford is, however, a worthwhile triumph of manners over flies and sweat.
Douglas Hickox: Director
Peter Williams: Art Direction
James Faulkner: Associate Producer
Ousama Rawi: Cinematography
Malcolm Cooke: Editing
Elmer Bernstein: Music
Nate Kohn: Producer
John Rosewarne: Production Designer
Cy Raker Endfield: Script