Top 20 British War Films – 1 Zulu

The Think Defence Top 20 British War Film Countdown

Chosen not on their artistic merit, historical accuracy or 100% Britishness but just because I think they are great and well worth a watch.

And so on to the Numero Uno

Details - Zulu

Cast; Stanley Baker Lt. John Chard R.E., Jack Hawkins Otto Witt, Ulla Jacobsson Margareta Witt, James Booth Pvt. Henry Hook

Certificate; Unrated

Release Date; Wed Jun 17 1964

IMDB Rating; 7.7

Runtime (Runtime in minutes); 138

Tagline (Branding slogan); Dwarfing The Mightiest! Towering Over The Greatest!

Writers; John Prebble (original screenplay) and, Cy Endfield (original screenplay) …

519BX3C9VAL Top 20 British War Films   1 Zulu

One of the last of the classic-era widescreen epics, Zulu was also one of the last war movies to celebrate the virtues of the famous British stiff upper lip.

At Rorke’s Drift in 1879 a handful of British soldiers, hopelessly outnumbered by 4,000 Zulu warriors, fought one of the most celebrated defensive actions in military history.

Zulu tells the story on an epic scale, bringing to life the heroism, courage, loyalty and sacrifice of those desperate hours. This is truly cast-of-thousands filmmaking, with vast action wonderfully captured in widescreen Technirama.

John Barry, who also scored Goldfinger in the same year, provides a telling musical accompaniment.



Wikipedia - Zulu

Wikipedia – The Battle of Rorkes Drift

Think Defence - Lieutenant John Rouse Merriot Chard,V.C. Royal Engineers

Watch it because…

Forget the outrageous slurs on the good character of Private Henry Hook (who was a model soldier and campaigning tee totaller) and Commisary James Langley Dalton (who was the most experienced soldier at the mission station and widely credited with initiating the defence)


Forget British War Films, this is the best War Film full stop, in fact, forget War Films, Zulu is without a shadow of a doubt, THE best film ever made

The best bits are far too many to list. Forget the numerous and glaring historical innacuracies there are some great quotes and for anyone from the UK required Christmas viewing, shortly after the Great Escape.

Lieutenant John Chard: The army doesn’t like more than one disaster in a day.
Bromhead: Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

Colour Sergeant Bourne: A prayer’s as good as bayonet on a day like this.

Pte. Thomas Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
Colour Sergeant Bourne: Because we’re here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.

Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Sixty! We dropped at least 60, wouldn’t you say?
Adendorff: That leaves only 3,940.

Colour Sergeant Bourne: It’s a miracle.
Lieutenant John Chard: If it’s a miracle, Colour Sergeant, it’s a short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber miracle.
Colour Sergeant Bourne: And a bayonet, sir, with some guts behind.

Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead: Now there’s a bitter pill. Our own damned rifles!

Bromhead: I’ll tell my man to clean your kit.
Lieutenant John Chard: Don’t bother!
Bromhead: No bother… I’m not offering to clean it myself! Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men, don’t you think? Well chin-chin… do carry on with your mud pies.

The final scene is, as the kids say, awesome

Zulu – Final Attack


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4 thoughts on “Top 20 British War Films – 1 Zulu

  1. Red Trousers

    Just finished watching this (3rd Jan) on Channel 4, so should be available on 4OD.

    Senior Trouserette was concerned that more individual South Wales Borderers appeared to get assegai’d than were in the company ranks at startex. I told her not to be so pedantic. Young William was very impressed overall, but had a Lego break midway through. I was impressed with the Zulu approach recce.

    “Men of Harlech, stop complaining,
    Wales was built for troops to train in,
    And it’s always fucking raining,
    Welsh girls have big tits”.

  2. x

    It taught me the importance of having a mobile reserve, violence of action, concentrating firepower, and a well defined perimeter.

    Still not sure why this is at number one and the Cruel Sea is at fifteen. Unless it is because it parallels modern times; jumped up under equipped under manned gendarmerie having its collective backside handed to it by a less technologically advanced Third World force trumps the importance of sea power, again.

  3. DavidNiven

    ‘Unless it is because it parallels modern times; jumped up under equipped under manned gendarmerie having its collective backside handed to it by a less technologically advanced Third World force trumps the importance of sea power, again.’

    I thought the marines did OK in Iraq and Afghan, considering its not their day job.

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