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The film focuses on the Battle of Rorke's Drift, an early conflict in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The opening scene depicts a communiqué from British South Africa to the government in London, narrated by Richard Burton, outlining the crushing defeat of a British army at the hands of a Zulu army at the Battle of Isandhlwana. The first scene depicts a sea of dead British soldiers, while victorious Zulus gather their weapons. The film's emphasis immediately shifts to the missionary station of Rorke's Drift in Natal, being used by the British army as a supply dump and hospital for their now-defeated invasion force across the border in Zululand. The commanders of the supply depot, Lieutenants John Chard and Gonville Bromhead, receive news that the invasion force has been destroyed at Isandhlwana and that a huge Zulu army is heading towards Rorke's Drift. Realising that they cannot outrun the Zulu army, especially with wagonloads of wounded soldiers, the commanders decide to fortify the station and hold out until reinforcements arrive. Using wagons, sacks of mealie, and crates of ship's biscuit, the small garrison fortifies the post and awaits the Zulu assault. As the Zulu impis approach, soldiers of the Natal Native Contingent and British settlers flee the site. Zulu warriors arrive, and distracting the British garrison with war dances, allow Zulu sharpshooters to open fire on the station from a neighbouring hill. Over the next few hours, Zulu warriors launch waves of attacks against the fortifications, which are repelled, and succeed in setting fire to the hospital, leading to intense scenes as ill, delirious, and panicking British soldiers grapple with Zulu warriors as they try to escape the flames. Zulu attacks continue into the night, and the British withdraw into a tiny redoubt built from supply crates, which they successfully defend against attacks. During a lull in the fighting, British troops emerge from the redoubt and using a co-ordinated manoeuvre, unleash a devastating hail of fire against a fresh Zulu attack. Having sustained horrific casualties, the Zulus withdraw several hundred yards and begin singing a frightening war chant, prompting the British defenders to retort by singing Men of Harlech. After a last failed assault, the Zulus withdraw and sing a song to honour the bravery of the British defenders, and finally leave. The film ends with a narration by Richard Burton, listing defenders who received the Victoria Cross.

Starring ... Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Michael Caine, Ulla Jacobsson,
James Booth, Nigel Green

Director: Cy Endfield

Producers: Stanley Baker & Cy Endfield

Year Released - Jan. 1964

Length - 139 minutes

Music Composer: John Barry

Movie Distributed by Paramount Pictures

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Zulu Theme - MIDI

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(Isandhlwana, 1879)

Zulu: Men Of Harlech
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