Zulu [DVD] [1964]

For some time, the only way to see Zulu has been either to catch it on late-night television, in a badly cropped and edited form, or to put up with a substandard full-frame VHS release. Diamond Entertainment initially released a full-frame version of the movie on DVD, but later followed it with this widescreen edition. As with the full-frame edition, the DVD is a bare-bones release, with only a one-page piece about Michael Caine and a one-page Diamond promotional piece; there is no trailer. The widescreen transfer is non-anamorphic, and appears to maintain the original 2.20:1 aspect ratio of the Super Technirama 70 process in which the film was shot, rather than the 2.35:1 aspect ratio used for 35 mm prints. Considering the general quality of the transfer, however, it seems unlikely that it was made from a 70 mm print. Contrast is somewhat flatter in this transfer than in the full-frame version, with the result that the colors are subdued throughout -- even the British Army uniforms seem a little dull. There is an occasional bit of bleed on the brighter colors, but this is not too serious. Black areas are reasonably solid. There are some compression artifacts evident from time to time, and visible edge enhancement in a few scenes, with some moiré occurring in scenes with hatching or a lot of diagonals. The average bit rate is on the low side. The image is soft throughout, with some grain, but is watchable. Letterboxing makes a world of difference with Zulu thanks to Cy Endfield's smart use of the frame. The source print seems to have been fairly good. Sound in this edition is much improved from the full-frame edition. Most noise has been removed expertly, with the exception of some hum, and the stereo mix has been preserved -- unfortunately, during the transfer process someone managed to flip the channels (not an unusual event). There are a mere four chapter stops on the disc. Packaging is a translucent keep case.
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Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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Special Features

  • Fully restored and enhanced digital masters
  • Original graphics
  • Biography


Filmed on a grand scale, Zulu is a rousing recreation of the January 22, 1879, siege of Rorke's Drift in Natal, Africa. An army of 4,000 Zulu warriors have already decimated a huge British garrison; now they are on their way to the much smaller Rorke's Drift. A Royal Engineers officer (Stanley Baker) is determined to stand his ground, despite having only a skeleton garrison at his command. His steamroller tactics are constantly at odds with those of a by-the-book lieutenant (Michael Caine), who feels that a retreat is called for, but it becomes clear that if the garrison is to survive, they'd better pay heed. Jack Hawkins and Ulla Jacobsson are also on hand as an idealistic missionary and his somewhat more pragmatic daughter. Richard Burton provides the narration for Zulu, closing the film with the observation that 11 of the 1,344 Victoria Crosses awarded since 1856 were bestowed upon the survivors of Rorke's Drift. Zulu was followed in 1979 by a "prequel," Zulu Dawn. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Stanley Baker
    Stanley Baker - Lt. John Chard
  • Jack Hawkins
    Jack Hawkins - Rev. Otto Witt
  • Ulla Jacobsson
    Ulla Jacobsson - Margareta Witt
  • James Booth
    James Booth - Pvt. Henry Hook
  • Michael Caine
    Michael Caine - Lt. Gonville Bromhead

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