Have you watched the classic Zulu fight movie and wondered where it was filmed? Well, the classic movie is based on a real battle that took place on January 22, 1879 at a remote mission station in Natal, South Africa. The battle the film is based on is the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. It lasted ten hours and by the end 15 soldiers were dead and two others were seriously injured. On both sides of the border, it was a wonderful story of bravery. However, the fight was a very small matter which had little impact on the Anglo-Zulu War. Without this film, it would have been just a small chapter in the history books.
This is exactly why war and historical films are so popular and important. They remind us of our ancestors and how they fought for our safety and our land. The films give us a better idea of what must have happened and the problems the warriors faced. We often tend to forget our history and the number of important battles fought there. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift was one of them.
The film was one of the biggest box office hits of all time in the home market when it was first released in 1964. It continued to circulate in theaters for the next 12 years before making its first appearance at television. Now, let’s dive into the details of where Zulu was filmed.
Also Read: Filming Locations, Sets and Plot of The Sheepman
What is Zulu about?
The film is about a huge Zulu force that seeks to capture the small British base of Rorke’s Drift after crushing a British garrison at Isandlwana. The film follows Lt. John Chard as Commanding Officer. He never saw combat but must organize 120 soldiers against 4,000 Zulu warriors.
There is also a second in command called Bromhead. He is very snobbish and proposes that Chard resign from the station. However, Chard refuses. Despite huge casualties, the British troops hang on against all odds and even earn the respect of their enemies. The troops immediately disagree on how to prepare for the attack. This film is based on a true and authentic story.
Where is ‘Zulu’ filmed?
The filming of the film Zulu was carried out in South Africa. He succeeded with the help of Chief Buthelezi, who also plays his ancestor Cetewayo in the film. Due to apartheid laws and regulations in Africa, none of the actors who played the “Zulu Warriors” were allowed to attend the premiere of the film.
One of the main filming locations included Rorke’s Drift, as well as Buffalo River. However, the locations had changed beyond recognition, so the film was then shot some 90 miles to the southwest, 10,000 feet above Durban. It’s in the Royal Natal National Park in Southeast Africa, with the country’s longest mountain range, the Drakensburg Mountains, as a backdrop.
When the producers decided to shoot the film in South Africa, still under apartheid at the time, they had to control their political opinions. The degree of freedom given to cast and crew was governed by strict, legally enforced guidelines. Assistant editor Jennifer Bates opened up about such an unfortunate incident with John Marcus, who was one of the film’s black stunt performers. She invited him for a drink in the crew canteen and was told that the law did not allow him to socialize with white people.
Background to the film ‘Zulu’ and its filmmakers
Back when Zulu was created, the group of creators who created it were far from established writers or personalities. John Prebble, who was the film’s screenwriter, was a former Communist Party member who had volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The film’s co-writer, Cy Endfield, had left Hollywood in the early 1950s after being accused of being a communist. Stanley Baker, a longtime Labor Party supporter, was Endfield’s producing partner and the film’s main star.
These three men were all progressive activists. However, their motivations for creating the film were not political. The film is neither an anti-Imperial polemic nor a celebration of Colonial victory. The main purpose was commercial, but the creators also saw it as an opportunity to pay homage to their Welsh homeland. Honestly, who would have remembered the bitter struggle that took place in the story if it hadn’t been for Zulu, a memorable classic?
Most Zulus were also Zulus in real life. Even the troops were played by real soldiers. About eighty national military personnel have been invited to join the South African National Defense Force film. Additionally, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a direct descendant of King Cetshwayo, was given the minor but important role of King Cetshwayo in the film. Her mother, a tribal historian, choreographed the wedding dance. The dance was supervised by stuntman Simon Sabela. He then became South Africa’s first black director.
Also Read: The Man Who Would Be King Filming Locations and Premise