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?


PEACE: A good object lesson on the true cost of war; it was a meaningless one founded on deceit and lies


The Siege of Firebase Gloria
1h 37m

Wings Hauser as Cpl. Joseph L. DiNardo
R. Lee Ermey as Sargent Major Bill Hafner

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A tough, gritty, and seemingly authentic war movie

rsimanski18 March 2002

If you’ve never heard of this movie before, you’re in good company. Apparently, neither have Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert, or the editors of the “VideoHound Golden Movie Retriever.” Fortunately, the editor of VideoHound’s book on war movies had heard of it. Based on his favorable review, I taped and viewed the film recently. If you enjoy a good “battle” movie, be sure to catch this one–you won’t be disappointed.

“The Siege of Firebase Gloria” is a real film about real people in an unreal hell. Its apparently low budget was a blessing because it forced the creators to focus on plot and character development rather than on bombastic and meaningless special effects. Nevertheless, the battle sequences are believable and well-done.

This film is a sleeper that apparently did not get the exposure that it deserved. Then again, R. Lee Ermey and Wings Hauser, who played the lead roles, are not exactly box-office draws, and the other names in the cast were totally unfamiliar to me. However, Ermey, Hauser, and everyone in the cast do a solid job.

The action takes place during the Vietnamese Tet offensive in 1968, during a supposed holiday cease-fire, when the Viet Cong caught the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces by surprise with an all-out assault throughout South Vietnam. Ermey and his Marines are caught in the trap when they are ordered to help defend a small, meaningless outpost, Firebase Gloria, with virtually no help except, finally, from a small Air Cavalry unit. The Tet offensive was the beginning of the end for South Vietnam.

I never served in Vietnam, but this film has the feeling of being authentic. This is not a simplistic “good guys versus bad guys” film. The atrocities and inhumanities committed by both sides are not overemphasised but they are not glossed over either. They are just there as part of the fabric of the war.

Perhaps more importantly, they are shown in the context of a deadly, virtually unsurvivable siege and final battle. We sympathize with the Marines, of course, and we see them as ordinary, basically decent human beings. We may not condone some of the things that they do, but we understand why they may have seen no other alternative. It reminds me of the film “Zulu,” about British troops trapped in a similar situation a century ago.

For many of us, our image of R. Lee Ermey is as the over-the-top drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket.” His character in “Firebase Gloria” is more human and lower in key, yet you can see his character evolving into the drill sergeant following his tour in Vietnam. When you’ve walked through hell with your fellow battle-hardened Marines and been one of the few to come out alive, you know that you have to do everything in your power to prepare your green recruits to walk through that same hell.

Is “Firebase Gloria” on the same level of quality as “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket”? Not quite. I’d put it on a par with “Go Tell the Spartans,” which, despite a strong performance from Burt Lancaster, has also never gotten the exposure that it deserves. These films deserve to be seen, not forgotten.

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It’s a good object lesson on the true cost of war; it was a meaningless one founded on deceit and lies.

I have no idea how historically accurate it is.  I have no idea if the morals of the story are worth deciphering.  I have no idea of how strong a stomach for watching.  I have no idea if the Viet Cong were subsumed by Hanoi as a result of this, or any other battle. 

It certainly does a great job of tallying up the body count to the grunts on both sides.  How anyone could go through that and not come out with PTSD is beyond my comprehension.

It made me more a little L libertarian.

“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.” — character Sergeant Charles Zim in Starship Troopers, a book Robert A. Heinlein, author

The author that “made” me a little L libertarian and truly anti-war — no matter which faction is in the White House.