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Cast:Cy Raker Endfield, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson

Stiff-upper-lip bravery in a fight against overwhelming odds is celebrated in director Cy Endfield's widescreen extravaganza Zulu, based on the real-life story of a small group of British soldiers in 1879 who defended a mission station in Natal, Africa against an attack by 4000 Zulu warriors. There are some nice performances here, including Michael Caine in his breakthrough role as a smug, aristocratic British officer, and Stanley Baker as a gutsy British engineer who takes command of the small outpost. The Zulu tribe, however, is represented only by a vast number of warriors, never introduced individually. This portrayal of the Zulus as a faceless enemy has lead to criticism of the movie as a romanticized depiction of British imperialism, and it's a valid point, as the film steadfastly ignores any political issues involving the history of the British presence in Africa. But despite the film's Anglocentricity, it splendidly captures the spectacle of the Zulu army -- the magnificence of their dress, battlefield rituals, and chants. Moreover, the choral grandeur of the native African music that is sung during an extended opening scene of a Zulu wedding simply overwhelms the typically Western musical score that follows. By the time the surrounded soldiers start singing "Men of Harlech" in response to the chanting of the Zulu warriors, Zulu takes on layers of irony that may indeed have been unintended, but are powerful and thought provoking nonetheless. Gregory Baird

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