Film Reviews, Short Review

Zulu (1964)

2/4

The story of the production of Zulu is arguably more interesting than the film itself. Screenwriter John Pebble and director Cy Endfield were both blacklisted from Hollywood for Communist sympathies, and leading man Stanley Baker was himself staunchly left-wing. Filming in apartheid South Africa, the cast and crew were legally unable to pay their mostly black extras fair wages, so they devised other methods of fair compensation, whilst also risking jail-time if caught fraternising with other races. The film itself has dated badly. Although it’s not outright racist, it does betray some slightly patronising attitudes towards the Zulu nation that are endemic to the way left-wingers saw the developing world fifty years ago: well-meaning in its intentions, but still somewhat muddled in its representation. Looking past that, both Baker and Michael Caine put in fine leading performances and the location cinematography is frankly outstanding, but the film is still derailed by awkward pacing, stodgy editing, and dull battle scenes.

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