6.6/10
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Zulu Dawn (1979)

A dramatization of the Battle of Isandlwana, where the British Army met its match against the Zulu nation.

Director:

Douglas Hickox

Writers:

Cy Endfield (original story and scenario), Cy Endfield (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Col. Durnford
Simon Ward ... Lt. Vereker
Denholm Elliott ... Col. Pulleine
Peter Vaughan ... Q.S.M. Bloomfield
James Faulkner ... Lt. Melvill
Christopher Cazenove ... Lt. Coghill
Bob Hoskins ... C.S.M. Williams
David Bradley ... Pte. Williams (as Dai Bradley)
Paul Copley ... Cpl. Storey
Donald Pickering ... Maj. Russell R.A.
Nicholas Clay ... Lt. Raw
Phil Daniels ... Boy Pullen
Ian Yule ... Cpl. Fields
Peter J. Elliott Peter J. Elliott ... Sentry
Brian O'Shaughnessy Brian O'Shaughnessy ... Maj. Smith R.A. (as Brian O'Shaunnessy)
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Storyline

In 1879 South Africa, the administrators of the British Cape Colony have designs to eliminate the Zulus as a hindrance to their colonial economy. To that end, the British present King Cetshwayo with an impossible ultimatum to provoke a war they are sure they can win easily with their rifles and artillery against native spears. However, that war proves more difficult than the arrogant British commander, Lord Chelmsford, expects as his overburdened army fruitlessly searches for the elusive enemy. However, in the shadow of a hill called Isandlwana, the overconfident British army learns to its sorrow just how badly they have underestimated the tactical skill and might of the Zulu nation. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The blood and thunder epic... a true story (dvd) See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Netherlands | USA

Language:

English | Zulu

Release Date:

15 May 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amanecer sangriento See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (as Dolby System Noise Reduction - High Fidelity)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The lack of ammunition due to boxes being "screwed down" was given as the main reason for the British defeat. This has been disproven by historical records and archaeological evidence. The ammo boxes were screwed down, but they were designed to be opened in a hurry by knocking off the center section of the lid. This is clearly demonstrated in a scene near the end of the battle where a rifle butt is used to knock out the panel. The real main reason for the loss of the camp was that the firing lines were too far out and spread, reducing the effectiveness of the British volley fire. Also, the Martini Henry rifles started to jam and misfire after prolonged firing, allowing the Zulus, who had suffered terrible losses, to close with the firing lines, and overwhelm them in mass charges. See more »

Goofs

The Queen's Colour (flag) of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment, is shown uncased and unfurled in the camp, and when Lt. Melvill tries to carry it to safety. In reality, the colour was kept cased - with a black leather sheath around the furled flag - and Melville carried it away cased. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sir Henry Bartle Frere: [proofreading aloud the ultimatum he has just drafted] Cetshwayo's Zulu army to disband and the warriors permitted to return to their homes.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: One hundred years ago the British Colony of Natal in Southern Africa was surrounded by a vast and independent Zulu Kingdom.

In 1879, a battle took place that was forever to alter the course of Colonial history: ISANDHLWANA See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.181 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Men of Harlech
(uncredited)
Traditional
Heard when the troops depart for Zululand
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

A black day for British colonialism depicted in a very good film
13 January 1999 | by sirdarSee all my reviews

The events leading up to and culminating with the 1879 battle of Ishandlwana are depicted very well in this exciting film. Although made some 15 years after the 1964 flim "Zulu", this film is actually the "prequel" to the other and should be viewed first in order for a better understanding of these two events in the British invasion of Zululand. The cast contains too many splendid actors and performances to single any out. Some historical errors do creep in but, on the whole, the film conveys the look and feel of the real thing. Very much worth the price of admission.


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