Friday, April 19, 2024
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A tale of two Zulu war films  


ONCE again the epic 1964 film Zulu is in the line of fire. The movie, depicting the January 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa, when 141 British soldiers repelled 4,000 Zulus besieging them at a mission station, was a big box office hit and made a star of a young Michael Caine. 

But in today’s age of wokery it has been assailed by allegations of racism, and in December 2020 – in the wake of the Black Lives Matter disturbances – a painting of the battle in the Royal Collection had its description altered to show its ‘links to colonialism and imperialism’. 

Now the Government’s shambolic anti-terrorism Prevent scheme has reportedly added its two pennyworth, apparently putting the film on a list of works that may incite extremism. Zulu is said to be seen as a ‘key text’ for ‘white nationalists and supremacists’. 

Caine, 89, has branded the listing ‘the biggest load of bull***t I have ever heard’. And, since Prevent also claims that the TV comedy Yes, Minister, the 1955 war movie The Dam Busters and even The Complete Works of Shakespeare are possible encouragers of extremism, we can but heartily agree.  

Strangely enough, though, there appears to be no Prevent warning for another film about the Anglo-Zulu War – Zulu Dawn, released in 1979.

It depicts the Battle of Isandlwana, which preceded Rorke’s Drift by a few hours, when 20,000 Zulus wiped out 850 British soldiers and more than 400 of their African auxiliaries. The Zulus lost about 2,000 warriors, but they were mainly armed with spears against rifles and cannon.  

So why doesn’t Prevent warn that Zulu Dawn may be a key text for black nationalists and supremacists? If the Zulu depiction of Rorke’s Drift can be labelled as possibly inciting white supremacy, surely Isandlwana – a stunning victory over imperialist forces – can be flagged as an encouragement for black supremacy. 

Or is it just that in today’s world turned upside down by wokery, the British must always be the bad guys? 

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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