Archive for the 'Colonial' Category



It’s now 1879 and the British Empire bestrides the globe.  Not content with giving people on every other continent reason to hate them, the British government has decided to make it’s presence felt in Africa.  In doing so, it has found that it’s colony in Natal borders the African equivalent of the Spartans: the Zulus.  Realising that continued expansion is threatened by the warrior civilisation, the British manoeuvre the Zulus into a war that they cannot win.

Lt Bromhead as 4,000 Zulus appear on the horizon: "Hang on a minute lads. I've got a great idea".

On 22 January 1879 a British column was engaged and destroyed at the battle of Isandlwana, and 4,000 Zulu reserves, denied glory in that victory, bear down upon the small British outpost at Rourke’s Drift, and it is this event which the film is based upon.  The defence of Rourke’s Drift is one of the most famous areas of British Army history, and this movie sought to honour the martial spirit of both sides.

"You're a big man, but you're out of shape. With me it's a full time job".

The film itself reeks classic, and as such has become a fixture on the Christmas programming list for planners wanting to set something running and go home early.  Probably.  Great acting across the board, but one has to mention Michael Caine’s signiature performance as young Lt. Bromhead (who in real life was much older).  The battle scenes set the pulse raising, as if the phrase “At one hundred yards! Volley fire, present! Aim! Fire!”  is somehow ingrained into the national psyche.  The frenetic close quarters fighting, rehearsed in detail by the cast, really looks authentically dangerous.

Desperate defence

Overall, a gripping tale of a clash of cultures, of defiance against staggering odds, and the practical application of a stiff upper lip.