ZULUS AT WAR
1995. 30 mins. Series: History's Turning Points. Produced by Greg Lanning, Transatlantic Films and The Learning Channel
TOPICS: Zulu, History, War
USES: M, H, U, G
The young British immigrant Theopolis Shepstone and the Zulu Prince Cetswayo are the antagonist and protagonist in this film. The European settlers's hunger for land brings them into contact with the Zulu and armed clashes result. Cetswayo is captured and taken to Cape Town. He visits London and tries to persuade the British to return him to Zululand. Although he is eventually enthroned by the British, his nation is divided into thirteen groups, and Zulu power broken. Shepstone retires at the War Office in London.
This film portrays Shepstone as being caught up in the conflict between the Europeans and the Zulu. His grasp of African languages and customs earns him the respect of the Zulu; yet, he betrays Cetswayo whom he has come to know well. At the end of the film, Shepstone regrets his attack against the Zulu. The film features a re-enactment of the battle of Isandlwana (1879) at the actual site. Here, the Zulu slaughter the British by surprising them. The British rifles overheat and the soldiers run out of ammunition. The Zulu rush through the gap and crush the British.
The history as told by this video seems superficial, reductive and, at points, inaccurate. The British victory at Rorke's Drift, which followed Isandlwana, for example, is not mentioned. The visuals do not provide the viewer with any sense of the scale of the battlefields or the movements on them.
(Written Keyan G Tomaselli, 1996. Edited by Carmela Garritano, 1997)