Review of Zulu Dawn

Zulu Dawn (1979)
3 July 2008
"Zulu" (1964) was an absolutely brilliant battle-epic: tightly directed, solidly photographed, well edited, with strong performance from all (including a young Michael Caine). Despite it's violence (more than half the film is the battle), it never lost sight of its primary themes - the remarkable courage of common men, the profound differences between the two cultures in conflict.

"Zulu Dawn" is a weak follow-up. In "Zulu" the characters were richly delineated; in "Zulu Dawn" we never get to know any of them, to the point where we feel little sympathy for them. It is also remarkable that the strongest acting comes from those playing very brief roles as Zulus - the Zulu Chief, the warrior who escapes to fight again, etc. All the white actors look poorly directed. And Burt Lancaster's accent is atrocious.

Beautiful photography, exciting final battle sequence, and an historically accurate narrative that is allowed to unfold its own themes; but too diffusely directed, and ultimately feeling incomplete.
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