Zulu: with some guts behind it

Legend has Christopher Soames MP taking a DVD copy of Zulu with him whenever he is invited to stay!

Sheldon Hall’s near 500 page book really is the last word on that classic 1964 film, from John Prebble’s original 1958 article to the 2014 anniversary screening. This remarkable book celebrates a remarkable film. The casting alone makes for fascinating reading – if the bar at the Prince of Wales theatre had been shorter, the world might never have heard more of Michael Caine. He was up for the role of Private Hook (eventually played by James Booth) but learned it had already been cast. On his way out he was asked if he could “do posh”, and the result if cinema history.

On location, one of the film’s stars pointed out to a visiting journalist he should interview the young Caine “He’s the best thing in this film”. Equally striking was Nigel Green as RSM Bourne responding to the frightened soldier as they face the Zulu mass “Why us?” “Because we’re here lad – nobody else. Just us”. It is an engrossing read, unimaginably detailed, with detailed budgets, location reports, cast interviews, publicity and promotion… but even the author balks at the criticism that Michael Caine’s teeth should have contained gold fillings! All in all, a mighty book in recognition of a mighty film.