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Hawkwind


Joined: 02 Sep 2005
Posts: 8
Location: Bristol
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Wow so much hate towards Zulu Dawn whilst all the praise for Zulu. Bit hypocritical to swipe Zulu Dawn so much for accuracy, when Zulu was just as much if not more innacurate.

Especially when you consider the scale of Zulu Dawn. Personally although Zulu is more 'polished' and tight, I much prefer Zulu Dawn. A lot of this hate seems almost irrational!

People don't give it not nearly enough credit for the amount of diversity it showed in the final battle and camp!!

Am really looking forward to watching the fan edit though!!.

Just in defense of the soundtrack, the orignal Zulu Dawn one is fantastic! really surprised to see how much it has been slated in this thread
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Mel

Yes, my experience of ZULU when it was released was virtually the same as yours - from cinema almost directly to the public library (where I latched onto Furneaux's The Zulu War and Binns' The Last Zulu King , both virtually as new as the film) so I certainly take your point on a film's "introductory" value. Yours is the most positive commendation of Braveheart I've ever heard - by some way. I know nothing about it, other than that an American played a Scot and history itself was apparently ignored. Did the American manage to perfect the Highland (or Lowland?) accent (it would probably be a first if he did!) or did it end up something like Dick van Dyck or Lancaster? Funny you should mention Scargill - I nearly invoked his name instead of Kinnock's!

Hawkwind

I don't hate ZD. I wouldn't say I hated any film. And I readily admit that ZULU departed from the facts in many ways as well. I'd also agree that ZD had a much more difficult job to do, firstly in setting the scene, then in constructing a battle on a vast landscape which they couldn't be expected to get to match the actual Isandlwana ground. I'll allow them all that! And their shortage of funds. But they deliberately opened themselves up to ridicule by departing from reality at almost every stage of the film. In the case of ZULU, millions have picked up their initial knowledge of Rorke's Drift from the film, whether as children or adults, and then - some of them - have gradually learned about the discrepancies. Even if they hadn't, they'd still have got a rough idea from the film, as the "plot" was straight forward. But imagine if someone saw ZD as their introduction to Isandlwana! (Which must have happened in some cases). It would take a lifetime to re-educate them and there still wouldn't be enough time. And all unnecessarily. It is very difficult to see in the film where it resembled - even mildly accurately - the battle of Isandlwana anywhere. I do think the invasion crossing was done well, though, and the move off from RD towards Isandlwana. Even the scenes at PMB in the beginning were quite attractive - if only they hadn't been so silly.

As a result the film is not at all highly regarded, but if they'd made a film purely for entertainment, why not just have a fictional battle if it is all going to be made up anyway? If I ever sit down to watch it right through, I promise I'll relax and treat it merely as entertainment - I've always seen it as fiction anyway.

Peter


Last edited by Peter Ewart on Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Hawkwind


Joined: 02 Sep 2005
Posts: 8
Location: Bristol
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Hi Peter,

Just focusing on the actual battle, its not so innacurate surely?. Forgetting the the rifles and artillerys types and some uniforms. Surely it ticks most of the boxes?? When you think of all the events that happened in the battle i think it covers a hell of lot!

Even has the rockets although granted does not show them getting there and the manner in which they were led off to destruction.

I think Zulu Dawn really does deserve a lot of credit for trying (very hard)

Today with the technolgy available i think you are right, there can be no excuses for at least trying to get accuracy right. But I'm still amazed everytime i watch it at how much Zulu Dawn does manage to protray (i mean with the camps and wagons, and battle related scenes)
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Rock Savage


Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 25
Location: UK
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I do not not wish this thread to be derailed into a general and hyperbolic discussion about film authenticity but Peter, you protest too much! ...and that coming from someone who admits to having only watched 10 minutes of Zulu Dawn: The FanEdit.

Every historical movie since the inception of film has had fictional attributes, revisionist aspects and historical inaccuracies. The test is if the film is entertaining and well-made as is the case with ZULU (1964).

Zulu Dawn (1979) is a faulted movie whether it be script, casting, direction, budget and casting. Those faults, whether minimized or not, will translate into any re-working of the source material.

It was remarkable to me, in re-editing the battle sequences, how much good footage was actually captured by the first and second units during the making of Zulu Dawn.

It is better for Zulu War enthusiasts, like myself, to have the movie Zulu Dawn than not at all and now there is an alternative version with Zulu Dawn: The FanEdit.

Now hopefully we can move on ....if Peter will allow.

Hawkwind,

Hawkwind wrote:
Wow so much hate towards Zulu Dawn whilst all the praise for Zulu. Bit hipocritcal to swipe Zulu Dawn so much for accuracy, when Zulu was just as much if not more innacurate.


I could not agree more.

Hawkwind wrote:
A lot of this hate seems almost irrational!


I agree.

Hawkwind wrote:
Am really looking forward to watching the fan edit though!!


Good to hear!

Hawkwind wrote:
Just in defense of the soundtrack, the orignal Zulu Dawn one is fantastic! really surprised to see how much it has been slated in this thread


Elmer Bernstein is a great composer to be sure and I understand your point of view but my own personal opinion is that the score of Zulu Dawn is regressive in that the heroic music is reserved for the British while music normally associated with the "Red Indian" is used to "compliment" the Zulu. This is in direct contrast to the use of John Barry's music in ZULU (1964) which used the heroic orchestral music for both sides.

With the addition of various and rearranged music by John Barry for Zulu Dawn: The FanEdit, the more ominous yet heroic main theme plays over the British and Zulus respectively.

The intentions of making Zulu Dawn: The FanEdit are discussed in greater detail at http://zuludawnfanedit.blogspot.com/
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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A little clarification is required. Hate? I haven't mentioned the word hate, save to emphasise, when that word was raised, that I harbour none - and certainly not for a film. In fact, I made a point of saying I wasn't even cross, and used some cheerful little emoticons to illustrate this. I accept my lighthearted tone may have been disguised by the odd adjective in capital letters (a breach of "netiquette" - sorry) but I made allowance for the film makers' difficulties and praised it where credit was due.

I have not criticised the FanEdit itself - which has received very positive comments here from members whose opinions I value - other than to express my bemusement at the lifting of a lengthy scene from a different film. I suggest most would be puzzled at that. I did, however, express pessimism at what I thought were the chances of any effort to rescue this particular film. And I do admit to not scrolling down to read the explanation of the aims and possibilities, as well as descriptions of the alterations made, until a few days later. Had I done so, I would have seen exactly which adjustments had been made (most of which I heartily agree with). I intend to extend my coverage to more than 10 minutes or so when I can! I did lament the fact that only an overhaul of the whole script would start the ball rolling, as it were, and I see some cuts to the script have been made - all sensible, but I remain convinced that the whole film would need overhauling in this respect to rescue it's reputation, but I can readily understand that would involve a remake rather than a FanEdit.

Obviously, I stand by my earlier descriptions of much of the original film: ridiculous, awful, hilarious etc., mentioning this here - perfectly relevantly - to emphasise what a difficult, if not impossible, task any FanEdit would have in a damage limitation exercise on this production. Since the film was released, ZD has been described in far worse terms than that (including on this forum) so I break no new ground there. I would also disagree with the claim that it is necessarily better to have the film ZD than not at all. If it was considerably less bad, I might agree. And the "test that the film is entertaining and well made"? Are we to be entertained, then, by films in which some of the acting is appalling, the script excruciating and the often complete departure from the historical thread which the film purports to follow?

Of course we can move on, with or without me. I will get to the rest of the FanEdit and certainly wish it well. I have little doubt that most of the changes will improve it. One or two changes prompt comment. For example, the apparent adding to the Zulu numbers in places will add realism, although in the film some of the thickly bunched "masses" already fail to reflect the very thinly spread skirmishing order in which the Zulu advanced in many parts of the early battlefield. And, although I haven't seen it yet, it appears the eclipse has been introduced with strong effect, ignoring the fact that not a single survivor of the battle has been recorded as even noticing an eclipse, or its effect - with the possible exception of a single Zulu. OK, so they were rather too busy! Elsewhere, (Mangeni, R/Drift, Wood's column) only two, possibly three Europeans (out of thousands) are recorded as having noticed anything at all. (Whereas at Umsinga they were all out there ready with smoked glass!) Science tells us that any darkening of the sky at Isandlwana as a result of the annular eclipse was so slight as to have been almost imperceptible to anyone not expecting it. So there's one myth which ZD did manage to avoid - a battlefield darkened by an eclipse.

Peter
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Rock Savage


Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 25
Location: UK
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My sources for the eclipse at Isandlwana come from the Ian Knight book, Zulu: Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift, 22-23 January 1879 (1992). He writes;

The Zulus burst through the line at about 1.30 p.m. At about that time the moon passed in front of the sun, and the same eerie darkness which gave Trooper Symons at the Mangeni a premonition of disaster spread over the battlefield. The eclipse reached it height at 2.29 p.m. and, in the adrenalin rush of terror or bloodlust, the gloom added an apocalyptic touch to the confused nightmare around the foot of Isandlwana.

Zulu: Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift, 22-23 January 1879 (1992), Ian Knight, Page 88/89

Also from the Ron Lock & Peter Quantrill book called Zulu Victory (2002). They write;

Technical details of partial eclipse at Isandlwana: 22 January 1879. Location: 2819'30"S" 30 39'10"E; 2 hours ahead of GMT; 1000m above sea level; eclipse begins: 13:10:07; eclipse ends: 15:51:53; sun's altitude 7339'; azimuth 29829'; eclipse maximum: 14:36:00; sun's altitude: 5532', azimuth 27615'; magnitude of eclipse: 0.650; moon's altitude 5523'; azimuth 27626'; size ration of moon to sun: 0.968; sun's altitude: 3852', azimuth 26644'.

Zulu Victory (2002), Page 212 and corresponding note on page 309.

Also:

A warrior of the uKhandempemvu told Mitford "...every warrior shouted "Usuthu!" ....and the sun got very dark like night with the smoke..."

A warrior of the uNokhenke stated "The sun turned black in the middle of the battle; we could still see it over us, or we should have thought we had been fighting till evening. Then we got into the camp, and there was a great deal of smoke and firing. Afterwards the sun came out bright again."
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Rock

In the intervening two decades since Ian Knight's earlier publications, two or three papers have appeared in which the eclipse has been studied in detail, these drawing also upon the calculations which explain the extent of obscuration. (See, for example, K.I. Smith: "The Eclipse", published in his Studies in the Anglo-Zulu War (2006). At least one other appeared, I believe, in the AZW Historical Society's Journal).

In Zulu Rising, his recent magnum opus, Ian Knight now describes the eclipse once more, referring again to the (very few) well known sources, and - although dwelling on the dramatic symbolism which a historian might naturally comment on retrospectively - confines himself, with regard to its extent, to the briefest of statements: "There was no dramatic reduction in the light levels." (My italics).

The figures quoted by Ron & Peter are also given elsewhere, but the maximum obscuration at any moment - that is at around 2.09 pm when the reduction in light was at its most for a minute or so - was only 56%, and of course much less than that during the rest of the eclipse. (IK gives 65% but still provides his statement on the lack of dramatic reduction in light). Of course, most of the defenders in the camp were either dead at the time of the eclipse's peak or engaged in their desperate flight. Of the two well known Zulu mentions, one is certainly ambiguous (altho' Mitford thought not, so I'll double my one Zulu to two!) and both also mention the smoke. Mansel and Symons appear to recall the atmosphere, eeriness and silence rather than any darkness, other than a shadow momentarily passing over the camp. A Zulu source further away also mentions the silence. Further north, Schermbrucker's and Booth's notes provided no clue as to obscuration. There were scores of British officers, a few NCOs and men, and many colonials who left accounts of that day, without once mentioning the eclipse or any strange darkness.

It seems there was very little loss of visibility and a certain dullness was all that would have been perceived, if anything. Of course, if a warrior noticed anything and did look up, he would have seen that the sun had, indeed, gone black or dark, as the moon obscured most of the centre of the sun for a minute or so. It even looks as if one of the Zulu had actually looked up at the sun and noticed. Include the eclipse in the fanEdit? Most certainly - but not to imply there was anything more than a rather dull period for a few minutes.

Peter
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Rock Savage


Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 25
Location: UK
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Peter Ewart wrote:
Include the eclipse in the fanEdit? Most certainly


Thank you. Zulu Dawn: The FanEdit does indeed include an eclipse.

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Rock

Brilliant!

Peter
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richard


Joined: 06 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
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just got around to watching the fan edit of ZULU DAWN. one word FANTASTIC. a lot better than the original. i have one question can i download this so that i can put it onto disc to watch at anytime, i have both the french copy and the arrow films release. please advise on this. thanks.
richard
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ZULU DAWN: The FanEdit
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