Zulu (1964) Script

[Actor Mr. Richard Burton narrates] The Secretary of State for War has today received the following dispatch from Lord Chelmsford, Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces in Natal Colony, South Africa.

"I regret to report a very disastrous engagement which took place on the morning of the 22nd of January between the armies of the Zulu King, Cetewayo, and our own Number Three Column, consisting of five companies of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot, and one company of the 2nd Battalion, a total of nearly 1,500 men, officers and other ranks.

The Zulus, in overwhelming numbers, launched a highly disciplined attack on the slopes of the mountain of Isandlwana..."

[drumbeat] [chanting]


[singing continues in distance]

[singing continues]

[high-pitched trilling]

[muted dialogue]

What did he ask, Father?

Whether a man of God, like myself, was pleased to see so many warriors married to so many maidens at one time.

How can he imagine it would please anyone?

Well, do you think I said it pleased me, daughter?

I told him I was unhappy to see so many brides who may soon become widows.

That was a very good answer, Father.

[singing continues]

[singing continues]

[singing, chanting]

Why do they have those little spears? The girls, I mean.

It's a symbol of their chastity, Daughter.


[faster drumbeat] [chanting]

It's splendid, I know, but it's quite horrible too, isn't it?

The Book says, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see?

A man clothed in soft raiment?"

Yes, Father.

[chanting] [trilling]


You must understand these things if you are going to stay in Africa, Margareta.

That's why I brought you here.

They are a great people, Daughter.

[Margareta] But how can they let themselves be married in droves like this?

Young girls to... to old men.

In Europe, young women accept arranged marriages with rich men.

Perhaps the Zulu girls are luckier.

Getting a brave man.


[speaking Zulu] [drumbeat, chanting stop]

[speaking Zulu]


Margareta. [screams]


All right.

Wait! Wait, Margareta!

[speaking Zulu]


Oh, Lord in heaven. What is it? Father?

A thousand British soldiers have been massacred.

While I stood here talking peace, a war has started.


Ishiwan? Did you say Ishiwan...?

Yes, it's their name for our mission station at Rorke's Drift.

They're going to destroy it. But why?

Because there are British soldiers at Rorke's Drift.

But only a handful. Come.

It is a hospital. Father, tell him!

Do you think he will listen? We must get back!

[man yelling] [screams]

Father! Father!

[speaking Zulu]

[Margareta screams]

All right, Corporal Allen. Sir. Corps, let go!

[shouting in Zulu]

[chanting in Zulu] [chanting response]

[chanting continues]





[man shouting orders]


[gunshot] colour Sergeant Bourne?

What's that shooting? A rifle, Hughes.

Hey? If you're sick in hospital, I suggest you go and lie down. Yes, colour sergeant.

Hey, Hookie, who's doing all that shooting? Eh?

Who do you think? Who do you think?

Flaming Bromhead shooting flaming defenseless animals for the flaming officers' flaming dinner.



Wish he'd bring us some fresh meat.

Wonder what they're cooking for supper?

Same as usual. Horse meat and axle grease.

Which one's got the bullet?

[man] ♪ She was as beautiful as a butterfly ♪

♪ She was as beautiful as a butterfly ♪

♪ And as proud as a queen ♪

♪ Was pretty little Polly Perkins of Paddington Green ♪ Shut up, you cripple!

♪ She was as beautiful as a butterfly ♪

♪ And as... ♪ Ooh! Ah!

Come on, make your mind up. It's turning blue.

Yeah, yeah, very pretty. Lovely. Which one?

Under that one.

The boy's clever. The boy's good.

How about putting some money on now.

[man shouts]

Independent! Fire!

Stuff me with green apples!

You know, if a dog was as sick as him, they'd shoot him.

Five rounds! Independent!


Shut up, you rotten, sick sergeant!

Shut up! Shut up! Why don't you leave him alone!

He's sick enough! You'll kill him!

Wouldn't bother Hookie, would it? Wouldn't bother Hookie at all.

Wouldn't matter if Maxfield was dead. [laughs]

I don't care if you're all dead. Blimey!

Rorke's Drift.

Take an Irishman to give his name to a rotten, stinking, middle-of-nowhere hole like this.

Hold that pont!

Corporal Allen? Sir.


Get some men in the water. Sir!

[men laughing]



You heard that officer of engineers. Get it!

Heave! Put a bit more weight on that rope, you men!

He's even got a voice like a corporal.

Yeah. Sort of like a female hippopotamus in labor.

[both laugh]

Hot work? Damned hot work.

Still, the river cooled you off a bit though, eh?

Who are you? John Chard, Royal Engineers.

Bromhead, 24th.

That's my post out there.

You've come down from the column?

That's right. They want a bridge across the river.

Who said you could use my men?

They were sitting around on their backsides doing nothing.

Rather you asked first, old boy.

I was told their officer was out hunting.

Uh... yes.

I'll tell my man to clean your kit.

Don't bother.

No bother. Not offering to clean it myself.

Still, a chap ought to look smart in front of the men.

Don't you think?

Well, chin chin. Do carry on with your mud pies.

[man singing]

You. [stops singing]

What's your name?



Are you supposed to be here? Yes, sir.

Uh, well, uh, not exactly, you see, uh...

Sir, only, uh, you got my solo tenor out there.

I've got your what? 612 Williams, sir.

We were gonna practice this afternoon with the company choir, but you've got my only solo tenor working out there in the cold water.

Well, I hope he sings better than he works.

Oh, indeed, sir. He does.

Every piece of wood in this blistering country is eaten by ants.

Ah, the heat and the dust, sir, very nasty on the larynx.

[clears throat]

Mr. Bromhead lets you have a choir, does he?

Well, every Welsh regiment has a choir, sir.

Mr. Bromhead is English, but he is a proper gentleman.

There's no doubt of that.

And what do you sing? Me, sir? Baritone, sir.


I can find work for baritones as well as tenors.

See what you make of that.

Over there, below the escarpment.

Two riders.

Gallopers from the column, sir.

Very wonderful things these are, aren't they?

Corporal Allen? Sir!

Get your party ashore, at the double. Sir.

All right, you heard that officer of engineers.

Make fast, and back to the bank! Move!

Come on, lads.

[speaking Zulu]

[Allen] Trouble, sir? [Chard] Could be.

[Allen] I can anchor the ponts midstream, sir. With six riflemen I could...

This is a situation you think an engineer officer can't handle?

No, sir. Beg your pardon, sir. Fall them in.

We ain't finished the bridge, sir.

Fall them in, corporal. Sir.

All right. Get fell in, you men.

Squad... shun!

By the left, turn.

By the left, quick march!

Left! Left. Get on!

Left! Left! Left, right, left!

Left! Left!

[men shouting]

Hey! Hey, you! What's going on down there?

They're building barricades for something.

What's that?

Ride like hell! Tell them they can't get here too soon!

Corporal, I want all these people out of here.

Douse these cooking fires and turn the boilers over.

But they've got soup in them, sir.

Pour it on the fires and get a rifle.

A rifle, sir? But I don't...

Mr. Chard? Mr. Chard.

Commissary Dalton, is it? That is correct.

Mr. Chard, you've just asked this man... To pour the soup on the fires.

See that he does it, and all these bags of maize inside the perimeter.

I don't want these tents providing cover for the enemy.

Does he know what it's like to make soup for 100 men in this heat, Mr. Dalton?

Does he, sir? Now don't distress yourself, my dear fellow.

There's your own officer over there, you go and speak with him.

Yes, sir.


This is Adendorff, Natal Native Contingent from Isandlwana.

Bromhead, 24th Foot.

You've come from there?

All right, man.

Is it true?

Beg pardon, sir. About the soup, sir...

What about the soup? Well, this gentleman, sir, said to put it on the fire.

He did? We have thatched roofs here, Bromhead.

No need to make the Zulus a present of fire.


Then get on with it.

There's a good fellow. Well, am I to take a rifle too, sir?

The entire column.

It's damned impossible. Eight hundred men.

Twelve hundred men. There were 400 native levies also.

Damn the levies, man, more cowardly blacks!

What the hell do you mean, "cowardly blacks"?

They died on your side, didn't they?

And who the hell do you think is coming to wipe out your little command? The Grenadier Guards?

What the deuce is the matter with him?


Are you staying? Is there anywhere else to go?

Talk to our levies, will you? Tell them whose side they're on.

Did the runner bring orders?

He brought orders to the commander of this post.

To do what? To hold our ground.

To hold our ground.

What military genius thought up that one?

Somebody's son and heir who got a commission before he learned to shave.

I rather fancy that he's nobody's son and heir now.

Who are they? The Witts.

Witts? The Swedish missionaries here.

This is their station. [wagon clattering]

They've chosen a damned odd time for a prayer meeting.

I think you'd better get them out of here.

You giving me an order, old boy?


Let's get one thing clear.

I'm no line officer, I'm an engineer.

I came here to build a bridge.

Jolly lucky for you, eh?

Otherwise, you'd have been chopped with the rest of the column, wouldn't you?

All right. What's the date of your commission?

Now, don't tell me. I suppose you have seniority.

1872, May.

1872, February.

Oh, well, I suppose there are such things as gifted amateurs.

Are you questioning my right to command?

Oh, not your right, old boy. Never mind.

We can... cooperate, as they say.

I'll be here, won't I? Bromhead.

Have you been here long enough to put a lookout on that hill?

Uh... not since we've been chatting, no.

Started the barricades, though.

I managed to think of that.

Who's the sergeant with the muscles?

[Bromhead] Sergeant Windridge. Good man.

Hook, not you again. Yes, sir, Surgeon Reynolds, sir.

It's me arm. The only trouble with your arm is you never do any work with it.

Pretty terrible pain, sir.

All right. Off with your vest.

Now, sir? Now, sir.

Yes, sir.

Ooh! Ooh! [moaning]

Cruel to bend, sir!

You know what you've got there, my malingering Hector?

No, sir. Uh, Hook's the name, sir.

You've got a fine handsome boil, my friend.

There's one glistening boil for every soldier in Africa.

You may not win many medals on this campaign, Hook, but you'll certainly get more boils.

For every gunshot wound I probe, I expect to lance three boils.

Uh, spot of medicinal brandy'd set me up, sir.

Brandy's for heroes, Mr. Hook.

The rest of you'll make do with boils on your skin, flies in your meat and dysentery in your bellies.

Now, then, this is gonna hurt you a lot more than it will me, I'm happy to say.


Mr. Bromhead, Cetewayo is coming with two impies to destroy you.

You must talk to Lieutenant Chard, Mr. Witt.

He commands here. Margareta.

Mr. Chard, I'm ready to take away your sick and wounded.

Please supply the wagons. Tell the men in the hospital to get ready.

One moment, Miss Margareta.

Mr. Witt, I don't suppose you hold the Queen's commission?

I am a man of peace, sir.

Then allow a Queen's officer to give orders to her soldiers.

Now, how do you know what Cetewayo is doing?

We have just come from his kraal, sir.

He is a member of my parish. Your parish?

Are you sure you're on the right side of the river, Mr. Witt?

I am here to do my duty. I expect your cooperation.

What's our strength? Uh, seven officers, including surgeon, commissaries and so on.

Oh, and Adendorff now, I suppose.

Wounded and sick, 36.

Fit for duty, 97.

And about 40 native levies.

Not much of an army for you.

[Witt] There are 4,000 Zulus coming against you.

You must abandon this mission.

Mr. Chard?

Adendorff sent his trooper to Helpmaker.

There's a relief column there. Cavalry?

There was, three days ago.

Mr. Bromhead, issue all our walking wounded with arms and ammunition.

You will all be killed like those this morning, and now the sick in their beds. All of you.

I don't think so, Mr. Witt.

The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day.

Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.

[Witt] Sir, the Book says, "There is no king that can be saved by the multitude of a host, neither is any man...." [Chard] Mr. Witt.

When I have the impertinence to climb into your pulpit and deliver a sermon, then you may tell me my duty.

It is not your duty to sacrifice the sick!

Are you a student of tactics too, Miss Witt?

Are you a Christian?

Sergeant Windridge! It is your duty to let us take those men away.

[Chard] Not that way, Miss Witt.

Sir. Come, Daughter.

Sergeant, put two good men on that hill and tell them to keep their eyes peeled.

Mr. Bromhead, sir. Double up, damn it!

Carry on, Sergeant Windridge, there's a good fellow.

Sir. colour Sergeant Bourne! Mr. Bromhead.

You know, I had a calf like you once, back home in Merioneth. Hm.

I'll get you some milk, eh? I'll make you strong.

Would you like that, eh?

What the hell do you think you're doing at a time like this?

I was... Shut up!

♪ Men of Harlech Stand ye steady ♪

♪ It cannot be ever said ye ♪ Owen! Yes, sergeant?

Got a voice, haven't you? Yes, baritone, sergeant.

Well, get up on that hill and sing out if you see anything.

You, too.

And take your bendook, you dozy Welshman.

The classical attack of the Zulu is in the shape of a fighting bull buffalo, like this.

The head, the horns and the loins.

First, the head moves forward and the enemy naturally moves in to meet it.

But it's only a feint.

The warriors in the head then disperse to form the encircling horns, and the enemy is drawn in on the loins.

And the horns close in on the back and sides.


It looks, uh, jolly simple, doesn't it?

It's, uh, jolly deadly, old boy.

[laughs] Well done, Adendorff.

We'll make an Englishman of you yet.

No, thanks. I'm a Boer.

The Zulus are the enemies of my blood. But what are you doing here?

You don't object to our help, I hope.

[chuckles] It all depends on what you damned English want for it afterwards.

All right. Hospital, church, cattle kraal, stables, an outside perimeter joining the buildings here and here.

Now, we don't move out to meet the feint of the buffalo head, we hold the outside perimeter. If and when that collapses, we move back into this area here.

How high can you build a wall there, Bromhead?

Well, it should be about shoulder high, but if the fuzzies moved out of Isandlwana immediately, they could be here, well, now.

It's just a matter of time.

Then we'll have to make the time.

You mean your only plan is to stand behind a few feet of mealie bags, and wait for the attack?

That's right, we wait.

If 1,200 men couldn't hold a defensive position this morning, what chance have we with 100?

Listen, old boy, I'll take the company up into the hills.

I know exactly how to disperse them.

Ambush, you see?

We cut them down in the passes...

Bromhead, I want that line of boxes across here, from the cattle kraal to the outside perimeter.

If they get over this... redoubt.

And a final redoubt here.

[door opens]

That, put it in the middle. What are you doing in here?

This is a church.

Don't you realize this is an altar table?

I'm sorry, there's nothing larger, we need it now.

Damn it, no chloroform. Go to the hospital.

Tell the sick to be ready to leave.

I want water, cold water, lots of it.

A probe, a saw, some nitric acid.

Don't take it too badly, Mr. Witt.

Isn't this as good a place as any for a man to be when he's in pain?

Excuse me, sir.

Tuck your heads in afore they fall off.

Sorry, sir, I've orders to get these bags outside.

All right! Get on with it!

I was praying that your officer may turn to God's word.

That's right, sir.

A prayer's as good as a bayonet on a day like this.

Have you prayed?

There'll be a time for it. What will you say?

Oh, pick it up.

Bit of the Psalms, I suppose, sir.

My father was a lay preacher.

Great one for the Psalms he was.

There's one, well, might have been written for a soldier.

Say it, man. Lift your voice to God.

Now, sir? Yes, let them hear your voice!

They know my voice when they hear it.

Let them hear it now in praise of the Lord.

Call upon him. Call upon him, man, for your salvation.

Well, as far as I can remember, it goes something like this:

"He maketh wars to cease in all the world.

He breaketh the bow and snappeth the spear in sunder."

Do you know it, sir?

"I shall be exalted among the heathen.

I shall be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us."

That's it, sir.

All right. Nobody told you to stop working.

You lead backsided... get sweating!

[Hook] I've been sitting there thinking, I got it all sorted out.

[laughs] Company.

What are you doing here, miss?

Oh, yeah, he doesn't need any help.

I'll look after him.

Won't I? [laughs]

You are all to be evacuated soon in the wagons.

Who says? My father.

Well, that's nice, isn't it? Your father, eh?

You and me, Hookie. Mr. Chard's orders, in this room.

Here we are.

What are you talking about? I'm sick. I'm excused duty.

What are you doing?

Making loopholes, see.

Me and Hookie's going to fight in here. Aren't we, Hookie?

You're joking! I'm sick.

Nobody's got any right to ask me to muck around in a flaming battle.

I'm getting out. Private Hook!


Yes, sergeant.

I know you, Hook. Yeah, you ought to.

You're no good, Hook.

They gave us you because you are no good to anyone except the Queen and Sergeant Maxfield.

Thank you very much, the both of you.

Take this rifle, Hook, and get to it!

I'll make a soldier of you yet.

And what for?

Did I ever see a Zulu walk down a city road? No!

So, what am I doing here?

You are here because you were a thief.

Yeah. And you still are one...

Certainly. ...Hook, my lad.

And now you can be a soldier, like what they pay you for.

Look, you got me 28 days field punishment in Brecon, isn't that enough?

Pick up that bayonet and help Williams.

And put your tunic on!

Twenty-eight days field punishment, no pay.

Know what he did? Sent money to my missus.

What you do that for?

You hate him for it?

What do you want me to do, cry me heart out, give him a big kiss? [chuckling]

I thought you might pray for him.

Oh, she's a dry one, very cool.

You know what she needs...

[man] Play your cards right and she could be good for you. [laughter]

Can I help anyone?

There will be wagons soon to take you away.

He's dying. There's nothing you can do!


There must be.

Attention! Pay attention.

Are there any walking sick without rifles?

Me. You, Dutchie?

You couldn't walk to the latrine.

This is not my first action. Come on.

Are you expecting sick men to fight?

What's he gonna do, 593?

Oh, I think he wants to be a hero, 716.

Haven't you red-necks got names instead of numbers?

This is a Welsh regiment, man, though there are some foreigners from England in it, mind.

I am Jones from Bwlchgwyn. He is Jones from Builth Wells.

And there are four more Joneses in C Company.

Confusing, isn't it, Dutchie?

What's your name, man?

Schiess, and I'm not Dutch, I'm Swiss.

Well, there's a silly man, by damn.

He's got himself into a private war.

I belong to Natal Mounted Police.

[inhales] Is that true, then?

He's a peeler, 716. Come to arrest the Zulus.

What do you know about Zulus?

Bunch of savages, isn't it? [scoffs]

All right. How far can you red-necks march in a day?

Oh, 15, 20 miles, is it.

A Zulu regiment can run... run 50 miles and fight a battle at the end of it.

Well, that's daft, it is, then.

I don't see no sense in running to fight a battle.

What are you doing here at such a time like this?

Why don't you go? No, not until you've gone.

You know Cetewayo has a regiment of young girls, warriors, called "Ripen at Noon"?

There's pretty. Hey. Come on, come on.

Here! Here! Give us... Come on! Come on!

Just a little kiss, hey? Come on! [fabric tearing]


Hey. Hey, boys!

Take a look at this.

What is it, boy-o? Flaming dust, what else?

No, by damn, it's horses!

The cavalry! It's the relief column, you long-range sniper, you!

[laughter] [shouting]

colour sergeant?


Stephenson, Durnford's horse. Thank God you're here.

I'm surprised you're still here. Do you know there are 4,000 Zulus coming this way?

We know. Can you throw out your men in a screen to the south of here.

You know how the Zulus feel about cavalry.

I know how my men feel about Zulus.

We've only just got through them.

Stephenson. Bromhead, what price, this?

You know, your whole regiment's gone.

Bromhead, you know this man, tell him we need him!

I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Look at my men!

Stand fast! Stand fast, all of you! Where the hell are they going?

Get them back here! Let go of my bridle.

Get them back here!

If they're gonna die, they'll die on their own farms!

You're the professionals, you fight here if you want to.

We need you! Don't go!

Don't go! Stay!

We need you, damn you!

We need you!

You didn't say a single word to help, Bromhead.

Oh, when you take command, old boy, you're on your own.

The first lesson the general, my grandfather, ever taught me.

All right then!

Nobody told you to stop working!

[speaking in Zulu]

Brothers. Oh, brothers.

The way of the Lord has been shown to us!

Thou shalt not kill, sayeth the Lord!

Brothers. Oh, brothers.

God's love is peace.

[shouting] [Witt] Go in peace.

Stay not to kill and be killed.

Go, I say!

[speaking Zulu]

The sin of Cain will be upon you.

"Am I my brother's keeper?" asked Cain.

"Yea, we are all our brothers' keeper."


The nations are but a drop of the bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance.

Bring him along. [shouting]

Mr. Witt, I'm getting you off this post.

Sir, they've all hopped it, all of them.

Give me those wagons and I will save the sick.

You want the wagons?

Mr. Bourne, Windridge, get those wagons in. Sir.

God loves a sinner come to his understanding.

Hey, we're in luck!

Hey, looks like that old parson got Chard to let us go! [laughs]

[man] Heave!


Oh, Lord God, give me strength!

Oh, God. God, forgive me!

I have the strength of thousands, for the spirit of God is with me. colour Sergeant Bourne. Sir.

[sobbing] Oh, God, forgive me.

Get him away from here.

Leave him alone! Leave him alone!

Miss Witt!


All of you! Animals!

Sergeant Windridge. [screams]

We shall not go.

If you send us away, we shall come back.

Lock him in the store room, put a man on the door.

Sir. All right, you men, get back to work.

And you...

Put Miss Witt in the church with Surgeon Reynolds. Sir.



Ah, sad, you know, and sick, and the battle coming.

Animals are very sensitive to noise, you know.

Why worry about a calf?

I thought I was tired of farming. No adventure in it.

But when you look at it, well, this country's not a bit as good as Bala and the lake there.

Not... not really green-like.

And the soil.

There's no moisture in it.

Nothing to hold a man in his grave.

[thumping in distance]


One of my men, Hook, do you know him?

No. In the hospital, malingering under arrest.

He's a thief, a coward and an insubordinate barrack room lawyer.

And you've given him a rifle.

What? In Queen's regulations, it specifically states...

[thumping in distance]

Damn funny.

Like a...

Like a train in the distance.

[thumping in distance]

You were saying, about Hook?

Mr. Bromhead, sir. Sentries come in from the hill.

They say... Sir. colour sergeant.

You have something to report? Sir.

Then tell me.

Very good, sir. The sentries report Zulus to the southwest, thousands of them.

All right, colour sergeant. Stand to.

Stand to!

[plays fanfare]

Look to your front. Mark the orders.

Mark your target when it comes.

Look to your front. Mark your target when it comes.

Look to your front.

Mark your target when it comes.

Mark your target. Look to your front.

Hitch, do your tunic up.

My tunic? Do it up!

Where do you think you are, man?

Look to your front. Mark your target when it comes.

Look to your front. Mark the orders.

Mark the target when it comes.

Look to your front. Mark your target when it comes.

Look to your front.


Boy? Hear me, boy.

Will you be Cain and kill your brother?

"Thou shalt not kill," sayeth the Lord.

You believe in the Lord's word, don't you?

Obey the word, boy. Obey the Lord.

Go to the others, boy.

Go to the others.

He says...

Mr. Witt says... Never mind him, boy.

Now you cut along back to the ramparts with your mates.

Yes, sir.

Mr. Witt, sir. Be quiet now, will you.

There's a good gentlemen. You'll upset the lads.

You know, my father was at Waterloo. He was?

Got his colonelcy after that.

Did he?

And my great grandfather, he was the johnny who knelt beside Wolfe at Quebec.

Did they make him a colonel too?

No, you... you don't see what I'm driving at.

You're telling me that you are the professional, I am the amateur.

No, what I mean is...

I mean, I wish right now I were a damned ranker like Hook or Hitch.

You're not, are you?

You're an officer and a gentleman.

[thumping in distance]


That damned train again.

[thumping in distance]

He breaketh the bow and snappeth the spear in sunder!

I will be exalted among the heathen.

I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us.

I hope so.

As I live and die, I hope so.

Company will fix bayonets!



Atten... tion!

[bayonet clatters]

You slovenly soldier.



[all chanting]

[all continue chanting]


[all shouting]

[shouts in distance]

[chanting call] [chanting response]

North rampart, stand fast!

South rampart, at 100 yards...

...volley fire!


[Zulus chanting]