RANT: If history is uncomfortable, good. Let’s learn not to repeat it!


Sir Michael Caine hits out at ‘bull***t’ suggestion his 1964 movie Zulu incites extremism after it was included on list by government’s Prevent scheme for ‘encouraging far-right sympathies’
By Laurence Dollimore
Published: 08:03 EST, 9 March 2023 | Updated: 08:43 EST, 9 March 2023

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Sir Michael Caine has blasted the ‘bull***t’ suggestion his 1964 film Zulu incites the far-Right after it was included on a government list of works that may ‘encourage’ extremism. 

The epic war movie, which also starred cinematic greats Richard Burton and Stanley Baker, depicts the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu war, in which 150 British soldiers successfully held off 4,000 Zulu warriors. 

While the soldiers were awarded 11 Victoria Crosses for their efforts, the re-telling of their victory – released some 59 years ago – has previously come under fire for alleged ‘racist overtones’ and ‘factual inaccuracies’.

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But leader of the Zulu tribe Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, now 94, who played own his great-grandfather King Cetshwayo in the film, said it should not be viewed through a 21st century lens.

‘Even if the past is uncomfortable, and perhaps especially when the past is uncomfortable, it needs to be examined and unpacked rather than hidden away. Of course race is a central theme in the film’, he previously told The Times. 

He urged critics of the film to look beyond the view that Africans were depicted as ‘savages’ and praised the way the community recreated history.

He added: ‘When we filmed Zulu, both black and white were recreating a part of history that held tremendous meaning for all of us. Rorke’s Drift was only one battle.

‘It was preceded by Isandlwana, the greatest military victory of an African nation against the British, and it was followed by the Battle of Ulundi, where our nation was defeated and subjugated.

‘What followed was decades of hardship and sorrow. But the spirit of the Zulu nation remains unconquered, and we still thrive in 21st century South Africa.

‘There is still a king on the throne of King Cetshwayo and millions of black South Africans still honour our culture and traditions.

‘Whenever that past is remembered it should always be a celebration of our ongoing fight, and victory, against division. That is worth thinking about, as that is the present-day context of the film Zulu.’

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I’ve watch this move several times at different points in my life.  And, each time, I have taken away a different message.  Initially, it was what would make men die like that?  Im sure my high school teachers, mostly ex WWII marines, could have helped me make sense out out if.  I never was able to and hence went on my way.   Later in life, I watched it again and was shocked as “spears versus rifles” ensure a massacre.  Reminded my of the American Revolution and men would line up to be shot at.  And, it WWI where the same tactics rendered huge casualties.  Generals fighting the next war with the last war’s tactics.  Finally, just recently, I watched it again and felt the futility of just all that killing. Argh!

I was surprised in this article by: “The Zulus, known for their bravery and ferocity, were eventually forced to retreat with 350 of their number killed compared to 17 British.”  Watching the movie, you’d have thought it was much worse.  I guess that is “dramatic license”.


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Maybe we will learn someday?


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