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They don't like it up 'em
Member Name: buttonman
Date: 06/02/01, updated on 15/03/01 (582 review reads)
Advantages: True and inspiring
Disadvantages: Body count
A true classic that needs little introduction,seeing as everyone on the planet has statistically seen it eight times.OK,that's a lie but as it's on most bank holidays few people can of missed at least a snippet of this historical masterpiece.
Set on a remote outpost in Natal province in the 1870's the film tells the true story of the hundred or so soldiers who stood firm against an attack by 4000+ Zulus.The film opens with Richard Burton reading an army communique detailing the rout of a large British base with the loss of 1200 men.A Swedish missionary,played with vigour by Jack Hawkins,hears of the Zulu leader's plans for the Rourke's Drift outpost and rushes to tell them.
At the base the men are oblivious to the impending attack and are attempting to bulid a bridge and hunt down the dinner.News of the Zulu advance soon filters through and after sorting out who'se in charge battle lines are drawn.To the missionary's dismay they plan to stand and fight despite their weak strength and the fact that many of them are hospitalised.
The attacks come slowly at first with the Zulu leader allowing his men to get shot up so he can guage the outpost's strength.The Zulu's are mostly armed with spears but also have rifles taken from the bodies of their previous victims.Slowly the attacks increase and soon the Zulus threaten to overwhelm the base.Despite his training as an engineer Stanley Baker's senior officer's tatics make the most of his few resources and soon the bodies are piling high - on both sides.
The attacks go on overnight and soon the fighting is taking place inside the compound with even the sick,the mad and the bad doing their bit.Individual acts of heroism are graphically dramatised and although not overly gory the losses and waste are not underplayed.In case you hav'nt seen the film I wont spoil the ending,but some live to tell the tale.The battle for Rourke's Drift saw the a
ward of twelve Victoria Crosses - the highest for a single engagement.
The film,made in the sixties is probably seen as un-pc nowadays with Britain's colonial record often the subject of scrutiny.The film dos'nt try to justify the outpost or indeed the army's existence in the Zulu's territory but it focuses on a great achievement in the face of great odds by a few brave men.The Zulu's are positivley portrayed as brave and resourseful and the only racist remark ("cowerdly blacks") is quickly questioned and ridiculed.
The cast are excellent and the film is usually remembered as Michael Caine's first starring role in which he plays the upper class second in command.I prefer Stanley Baker's commander with his focus and cunning.Other great roles are the caring but no nonsence Colour sargeant and the Welsh who have a sing off with the Zulus in a scene straight from 'Monty Python'.Even the bases' herd of cows does it's bit as they spear some Zulus when they escape.Now that's what you call a team effort!.
A great film full of sacrifice and derring do and straight from the 'they don't make them like that mould'.It's a fast two hours that will make your chest swell in pride, tempered slightly by the fact the the Empire now consists of two streets in Port Stanley!.Give it a chance next Bank holiday and you'll be there to the poingent end where Richard Burton reads the role call of Victoria Cross winners who comprise members of all ranks.Stiff upper lips all round.