Zulu: Special Collector's Edition (1964)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 2-Dec-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary-Sheldon Hall (Film Historian) & Robert Porter (2nd Unit Dir)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making Of Zulu: Role Of Honour
Featurette-Making Of-The Making Of Zulu: ...And Snappeth The Spear In Sunder
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 132:39
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Cy Enfield
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Stanley Baker
Michael Caine
Jack Hawkins
James Booth
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Italian
Portuguese
Hebrew
Greek
Croatian
Slovenian
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Zulu is a classic British film. Both a commercial and critical success, Zulu is the rousing true story of courage, determination, and victory against all odds.

    Zulu is the true story of the events that unfolded in South Africa, in January 1879. The story picks up immediately following the news that over 1700 invading British soldiers have been slain in battle by a highly organised and disciplined Zulu army at Isandhlwana, Natal, South Africa. The story behind this battle is told in the movie, Zulu Dawn (1979). The Battle of Isandhlwana remains one of the British army's greatest tragedies. However, this battle was followed by one of their greatest triumphs -- Rorke's Drift. The same Zulu Impis who just demolished and then massacred an entire British army, are now heading to a small British hospital out-post, at a place called Rorke's Drift. This small mission is guarded by just 150 British soldiers, with less than 100 of those fit for duty. Rather than retreat, these few soldiers followed their orders, to "stand firm", and they held out against a relentless attack by over 4000 Zulu warriors, that lasted for days, and which eventually degenerated into bloody hand-to-hand combat with spears and bayonets.

    Since the Victoria Cross was instigated by Queen Victoria in 1856 for "extreme courage and valour over and above the call of duty", only 1354 have been awarded. No less than 11 of those were awarded to survivors at Rorke's Drift, which is the highest number of VCs awarded for any single British military engagement. More VCs would probably have been awarded, but the posthumous VC only began in 1905. Two of those 11 VCs were awarded to the commanding officers, an engineer sent to build a bridge at Rorke's Drift, Lt. John Chard (Stanley Baker), and his second in command, Lt. Gonville Bromhead (Michael Caine).

    Zulu features an excellent script, which not only captures the human element of this drama, such as the terror of the soldiers in the face of what seems certain death, but it also manages to tease out realistic relationships and conflicts between the characters. The script also treats the Zulu people and their culture with a great deal of respect and understanding. The script also brilliantly manages to deliver a lot of important exposition, such as an explanation of Zulu battle tactics, without this ever appearing to be obvious. Zulu also features great performances by the aforementioned Baker and Caine, as well as from Jack Hawkins and James Booth. Richard Burton provides an opening and closing narration, and the South African politician, Chief Buthelezi, enjoys a small role as his ancestor, Zulu Chief Cetewayo.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Photographed on location by Stephen Dode, this movie features wonderful vistas that really capture the Natal landscape, and the feelings of loneliness and abandonment. (Note: John Sellars of HTV-LA, the colorist for the new Paramount/MGM restoration, informed me that the movie was “shot on 35mm 8perf horizontal (VistaVision) and ditributed in 70mm”). Considering the age of the source material, I was very impressed with the quality of the transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is great, but the shadow detail is poor in some of the darker scenes. For example, consider the lack of shadow detail at 30:20.

    The colour is wonderful and it is well saturated throughout.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts.

    The transfer suffers from severe aliasing throughout. Anything that can cause this does. Some scenes, such as grasslands, gain a shimmer across the entire background due to aliasing. This is the one major flaw with the transfer. There were also some rare examples of telecine wobble, such as at 3:47.

    A variety of film artefacts appear throughout, but they are mostly small, and I did not find them distracting. One large example appears at 11:23. There is also a few scenes which exhibited slight edge enhancement, such as at 85:10.

    There are 13 sets of subtitles present, and the English ones are simplified but accurate.

    This is a RSDL disc, with the noticeable layer change placed at 49:14.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Stereo-Surround, French Dolby Stereo, Italian Dolby Stereo, Spanish Dolby Stereo, and an Audio Commentary in English Dolby Stereo-Surround. Originally presented theatrically with 6-track magnetic sound (in some theatres), I had really hoped that this movie would be remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, as it could really benefit from it.

    The dialogue quality is generally very good, but the audio sync is sometimes slightly out, such as at 18:14.

    The musical score is credited to John Barry, and it is in his distinctive, dramatic style, which suits the movie well. The movie also features the stirring Welsh hymn, Men Of Harlech.

    The surround sound mix is very front-heavy, but the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and provide some ambience. For example the tribal festivities at 4:14 and Barry's score at 12:14.

    The subwoofer never made a noticeable contribution.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a number of extras.

Menu

    An animated menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Audio Commentary

    A very informative and interesting commentary provided by film historian, Sheldon Hall, and the 2nd Unit Director, Robert Porter.

The making Of Zulu: Role Of Honour (25:47)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround-encoded audio, this is a genuine documentary about the movie, largely composed of interviews and recollections by cast and crew members.

The making Of Zulu: Snapeth The Spear In Sunder (20:04)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround-encoded audio, this appears to be an expansion on the above documentary.

Theatrical Trailer (3:40)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital stereo, this appears to be the original 1960s movie trailer.

Easter Egg -- Theatrical Trailer (1:15)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital stereo, this appears to be the trailer for the movie's re-release in the 1970s.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Zulu was released on DVD in Region 1 in at least two different, bare-bones, versions, as it was here. There seems to be no release of this Paramount version yet.

Summary

    I have owned both the previous two DVD (Region 0) releases, one NTSC and the other PAL, and this is by far the best this movie has ever looked and sounded.

    Overall the video quality is good, despite the awful aliasing.

    The audio quality is good, albeit quite front-heavy.

    The extras are plentiful, and genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, November 30, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews
Web Wombat - James A

Comments (Add)
5.1 On Zulu - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!) REPLY POSTED
IS this sell-thru version better than the rental version I just watched? - REPLY POSTED
Dramatic improvement - REPLY POSTED