Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spot the mistakes in this shot from the film ZULU

A tense moment during the battle of Rorke's Drift
as portrayed in the film Zulu

The actors seen in the photo, L to R, are Nigel GREENE (with mutton-chop whiskers), Glynne EDWARDS (slumped figure centre) and David KERNAN (lying back against the bags).

Nigel GREENE (who appeared with Michael CAINE - also starring in this film - in 'The Ipcress File') is portraying Frank BOURNE. The actor is clearly much older than BOURNE would have been at the time. Frank Bourne was 5 feet 4 inches tall - played by Nigel Greene who was 6 feet 2 inches. Nigel Greene is showing wearing 3 white chevrons (on the left arm i.e. the 'wrong' arm) which indicates the rank of a Lance Sgt, something Bourne never was. Bourne, despite his age (23) was a C/Sgt and would have worn, on his right arm, three gold chevrons with crossed colours surmounted by a crown (in Full Dress Uniform) and in undress uniform no crossed flags but three gold stripes surmounted by a crown.

The medals worn by Nigel Greene, as seen in this photograph, are the King George V Coronation medal of 1912 and the Ashanti War Medal of 1896-7 - obviously, neither of these medals had been struck in 1879.

Glynne EDWARDS (who appeared as the barman at the Winchester Club in the TV series "Minder") is portraying Cpl ALLEN. The actor in 'Zulu' was about twice the height of Cpl ALLEN, a small feisty Geordie from Newcastle, not a Londoner as played by EDWARDS.

David KERNAN (a singer in the BBC show The Black and White Minstrels) is portraying Fred HITCH. No wound is visible, yet HITCH was shot in the right shoulder - 39 pieces of his scapula were later removed.

The tunics as seen here are in pristine order without a blemish after 9 months in the field.

The pith helmets are white - in service conditions these would have been stained with tea or mud to present a less easy target in the surrounding terrain.

The Shako plates -i.e. the badge on the front of the pith helmets - have not been removed from the helmets (as they would have been to prevent their glinting in the sun and presenting a target for the enemy).

The white webbing at the front of the uniforms is shown as straight rather than crossed in the front, as it should have been.

The unit badge (24th Regt) is not shown on the shoulder tabs.

The rifles are right - though for the film they were probably fibreglass copies of those used in 1879. The film itself (made in 1964) contains some glaring errors, a few are listed below:

Cpl Allen is shown as wearing chevrons on the wrong arm, and worse, wearing a post-1881 Silver sphinx on his collar; this should have been of brass.

In the film, BOURNE is asked by a hospital patient wearing a leather neck brace: "What's that shooting C/Sgt?" Reply: "A rifle, Hughes." Strange, since there was no person called HUGHES at Rorke's Drift.

Natives friendly to the British are not shown in the film wearing the Red Puggaree on their foreheads as would have been the case on January 22 1879. This is noticeable in the scene where they are pushing ponts on the river.

Pte HOOK is shown as a hospital patient: incorrect, he was the company cook and HITCH was the tea-maker.

In the sequence showing BROMHEAD about to shoot an animal this was a cheetah, but when we see the "dead" animal it becomes a leopard.

CHARD's helmet badge is of the Royal Monmouthshire Volunteer Engineers and silver - this should be a Royal Engineers badge and in gilt, as worn by officers.

It was Sgt MILNE (3rd East Kent Regiment, the "Buffs") that tied the ponts up midstream, not Cpl ALLEN and he did not kick Fred HITCH into the trickle of a stream which should have been the Buffalo River in full spate.

In the opening sequence of the film, CHARD is shown wearing a post-1881 full dress tunic, his collar should be decorated with a crown and not a flaming grenade, indicating he is a lieutenant. In 1879 his rank would have been shown on his collar but he is wearing it on his epaulette, his white cross belt is of Royal Artillery pattern. A Royal Engineer would wear a black cross belt with gold edging and gold centre zigzagging. Most likely, though, he would have been wearing a blue patrol jacket.

In 'Zulu', actor Ivor EMMANUEL says to Stanley BAKER: "every Welsh regiment has a choir." In 1879 the 24th Foot were the 2nd Warwickshire Regiment, an English Regiment. It is a commonly-found error to refer to the regiment as the South Wales Borderers, which in 1879, they were not.

Graham Mason, AZW Researcher


Steve Hayes said...

The most disturbing thing, when seeing the film, was the "establishing shots" of the Amphitheatre, which was a long way from the site of the battle, and disorienting to anyone who has been there.

Also, they sometimes showed clouds, suggesting a thunderstorm was on its way, and later showed clear skies.

Mole said...

Steve - you may already know but in case not - a new dvd available from Amazon:The Mystery of Zulu Dawn. www.amazon.com/Mystery-Zulu-Dawn-RETRO-BADGE/dp/B0095VSJHG
Relive the incredible true story of The Battle of Isandlwana. In 1879 at the battle of Isandlwana, the British suffered a degrading defeat at the hands of a much lesser army the Zulus. What could possibly have gone wrong? Was this momentous defeat that cost the lives of almost 1,500 British soldiers caused by the arrogance of an Empire that grossly underestimated its opponent? The Mystery Of Zulu Dawn uses a dazzling blend of stunning location filming, extraordinary reconstructions, computer graphics and more than a hundred Zulu extras to explain the enigma shrouding this forgotten battle. The British army was the most powerful army on Earth. They vastly outmatched the Zulus both in numbers and with their greatly superior weapons yet they were inexplicably and humiliatingly defeated. Startling new truths are unearthed which help explain why on this particular day, and in this particular place, the Zulus became almost superhuman. As seen on Channel 4.

Ginger fox said...

The zulus outnumbered the british by around 20,000 to around 1500...and only 800 of them were acctually british soldiers...rifles over heated and jammed...and caused blinding smoke ..ammo boxes were sealed shut ...the line was too thin and too open to hold back the zulu...you should watch the programme three or four times until you learn something...and without your anti british glasses on.

Mole said...

Not sure I get your drift but thanks for the comment anyway. There is so much controversy over the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift and so much has been published about both - some good, some bad - that there is a whole raft of literature out there for you to read. I won't attempt to address any points here. Keep reading and visiting.

Unknown said...

A strange error occurred in the film when Chard was injured - a Zulu assagai inflicting a deep cut to the left side of his throat. Following a visit to the surgeon ALL signs of this injury mysteriously vanished.

mr.black said...

The bigger question is how many VC's would have been awarded if Isandlwana never happened ? i suspect none .
It was a disaster for the British and as all good governments know smoke and mirrors to keep the public on their side . No doubt it was an heroic stand but not worthy of multi VC's . propaganda at its very best.