The film Zulu
Released in 1964, ‘Zulu’ has become one of most iconic British films ever – directed by Cy Endfield, and starring Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins and Michael Caine. I joked here that we had held the World Premiere of this famous film in our lounge in Harrismith! Hey! Sorta true!
Now, fifty five years later, a new film, ‘Zulu and the Zulus’ is planned. Scheduled to be a ninety minute feature length documentary to be shot in England and in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa, the film will tell about the making of the classic war film ‘Zulu’, and – un-colonially – also tell the stories of the Zulu people involved in the making of that famous film.
Here’s a trailer of the planned movie:
Director Henry Coleman is sole owner of the only print of the making of ‘Zulu’. Shot in Natal in 1963, it contains 26 minutes of unique black & white behind-the-scenes footage showing cast and crew at work and play while making one of the most iconic and loved war films of all time.
Coleman and Producer Mark Tinkler, will take this Behind the Scenes footage back to KwaZulu Natal, screen it for the Zulu people and talk to them about this historic and well-loved film – Zulus who appeared in the original film as extras. Many rural Zulu people have no access to cinemas, and no electricity in their villages, and so would have not seen the film. The production team will travel out to the remote parts of KwaZulu and screen the film either in huts or on a portable screen outdoors using a generator, DVD player and screen, film the audience watching the film, interview them and draw out their stories on the making of the film in 1963. Some of them saw the film and rushes at special screenings organised by star & Producer Stanley Baker – as seen in this rare still of film extras watching themselves in the rushes:
But many of them have never seen it since, or indeed ever. ‘Zulu and the Zulus’ will examine the making of film to the Zulus, visiting the locations in Natal where the film was shot, a Then and Now sequence. They will also visit the original battle site at Rorkes Drift. It will be a fascinating journey.
It will be a very visual experience, with Zulu warriors watching themselves and their parents playing their ancestors. Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who became a minister in the first legitimate government of South Africa upon liberation in 1994, appeared in ‘Zulu’ as his Great Grandfather, King Cetshwayo ka Mpande. He has agreed to participate in this project and has given us his full support.
At the heart of ‘Zulu and the Zulus’ is 26 minutes of never-seen-before ‘making of’ footage. This original 16mm silent footage has been painstakingly restored in a top post-production house in London, and this unique footage not only features the film’s ‘famous’ cast and crew on set, it also includes the building of key sets in KwaZuluNatal as well as costume design, creation and fitting, stunt work, battle scenes and much more. But more importantly, it is an historical record detailing the extent of contribution from the local community in bringing the famous film ‘Zulu’ to life.
We have also found, and gained exclusive access to, another 40 minutes of colour home movie footage shot on set, giving us a unique insight into the production of Zulu.
Seven minutes of these forty minutes of ‘home movie’ footage were taken by Dad with his new Eumig 8mm cine camera when he and Mom went to the set in the Royal Natal National Park back in 1963. Sister Sheila had the film digitised, but I won’t be showing it here as Henry Coleman has asked to use it for his movie. Hopefully some of it will make it onto the big screen!
More from Henry: ‘Zulu and the Zulus’ will tell the behind the scenes story of the classic British Movie ‘ZULU’. We will be interviewing European cast and crew and for the first time, hear the tribal ZULU actors, stuntmen & crew stories from behind the scenes. We hear tales of the making of the film, what it meant to the Zulus, then and now, and the film’s legacy to Zulus today. Everyone knows the film, it’s iconic set pieces, and the lead European actors… but no-one has ever spoken to the hundreds of Zulu warriors who took part in the film, the Zulus of the title. This is a unique opportunity to get the Zulu peoples’ point of view on a classic film named after them, but whose voices we’ve never heard before – there will be stories we’ve never even imagined, illustrated, intercut with the rare footage of the making of Zulu.
An illustration of props, equipment and ‘stuff’ used on the remote location of the set of Zulu in 1963 (from Henry Coleman’s Zulu and the Zulus twitter feed), giving an indication of the challenging logistics: