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Michael Caine may not like it, but Zulu shows the power of cinema in rewriting history

There is an urban legend about a scene in Zulu in which a British officer in a red tunic is horribly stabbed in the throat by three consecutive spears: after a stunned silence in the cinema, a man is said to have shouted from behind: “One hundred and eighty!” (Other versions of the story have one more person screaming on the spot – then fired – or even the star himself, Michael Caine.)

Now the film grapples with the furious Sir Michael Caine. knowing that Zulu, the 1964 film about the battle of Rorke’s Drift that made him an international star, was operated by the Research Communications and Information Unit as part of Containment. government counterterrorism, naming something that might encourage far-right sympathies .

As to troll Sir Michael and others, the unit includes The Four Feathers on its roster, The Great Escape and The Dam Busters – d probably because of the name Wing Commander Guy Gibson gave his dog.(To quote David Brent, “That was before racism was bad.”) But the list also includes works by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson, Kipling and Edmund Burke as well as The Thick of It, Yes Ministry and The Great British Railroad Journeys by Michael Portillo. (We’ll probably leave them at the end.)

But is Prevent really trying to abort Zulu and all other messages? Or does it just document the (perhaps naughty) way in which far-right groups solemnly refer to these as test stones?

And could it be that Prevent’s silly list is making people revisit Zulu, prompting a new generation to watch Stanley Baker, the lion of British cinema who played Caine’s commanding officer, Lieutenant John Chard, and of course Caine himself, playing a classy stiff guy for the first and last time? There is also Jack Hawkins as an alcoholic civilian missionary who is evacuated in a van and shouts, “You all die! You don’t realize? You can not see ?

This is certainly a refined watch, with the concept of empire being revisited.The Battle of Rorke’s Drift took place during the Anglo-Zulu War, caused by the British invasion of Zululand in 1879. You could say equal numbers of soldiers on both sides, but the British had guns, loaded rifles and Gatling Gun. The Zulus are defending an unprovoked attack on their territory by an invader with advanced weapons. But the movie Zulu affirms the weak position of the British by focusing on a specific event in which only 150 British soldiers held back about 4,000 Zulu warriors. The film emotionally imagines the final battle in which the British and the Zulus
sing to each other, imbued with respect for each other’s chivalry: the Zulus lament at the funeral and the British Men of Harlech chorus.Did director Cy Endfield consider a football match between them in no man’s land?

The film doesn’t exactly provide general context: it was part of a catastrophic defeat for the British, due to the earlier Battle of Isandlwana – of which Rorke’s Drift is a footnote – in which they were defeated despite weapons advantage. . In addition, after the Rorke Drift, several Zulus were hanged with specially crafted gallows. The film is supposed to be part of a veiled myth that begins almost immediately: the capture and inflation of a relatively unimportant event.

Undoubtedly, Zulu’s look and feel inspired an as-yet-unreleased film Containment: Advance Khyber, the famous satire of British colonialism.Perhaps the Information and Communication Research Unit could organize a dual poster of these films at the Ministry of the Interior.

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