Zulu Dawn (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

Zulu Dawn (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A prequel to Zulu, Zulu Dawn depicts the events prior to a devastating battle that occurred in 1879 in which 1,500 British soldiers were killed by Zulu warriors. This film portrays the growing tensions between the Zulu tribal factions and the British colonists. With Peter O'Toole and Burt Lancaster.

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Burt Lancaster
as Col. Anthony Durnford
Peter O'Toole
as Lord Chelmsford
Simon Ward
as William Vereker
John Mills
as Sir Henry Bartle Frere
Nigel Davenport
as Col. Hamilton-Brown
Michael Jayston
as Col. Crealock
Ronald Lacey
as Norris Newman
Denholm Elliott
as Lt. Col. Pulleine
Freddie Jones
as Bishop Colenso
Ronald Pickup
as Lt. Harford
Donald Pickering
as Maj. Russell
Anna Calder-Marshall
as Fanny Colenso
James Faulkner
as Lt. Melvill
Peter Vaughan
as Quartermaster Sergeant
Graham Armitage
as Capt. Shepstone
Bob Hoskins
as Sgt. Maj. Williams
Dai Bradley
as Pvt. Williams
Paul Copley
as Cpl. Storey
Patrick Mynhardt
as Maj. Harness
Simon Sabela
as Cetshwayo
Midge Carter
as Lt. Cavaye
Phil Daniels
as Boy Soldier Pullen
Ken Gampu
as Mantshonga
Ray Davies
as Sgt. Murphy
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Critic Reviews for Zulu Dawn

All Critics (8)

Rides the line between being a pure artifact of a bygone era-one that depicts a romanticized, unrealistic version of the time-and a modern, revisionist take that strives for a more accurate portrayal of historical reality.

July 9, 2020 | Rating: C | Full Review…

A simple two-act story: Prelude to war, and the war. The former is concerned with a lot of British derring-do and priggish behavior. The latter consists of battle scenes with a lot of kinetic energy but not as much emotional punch as they should have.

February 28, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/5

A rousing visual spectacle that's a prequel of the Cy Endfield directed Zulu (1964).

September 16, 2010 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Seen today, it's not only a startling indictment of British imperialism, but it seems a remarkably forward-thinking work.

March 7, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Zulu Dawn


Considering the epic magnitude of the screenplay and the diverse cast, this should have been much, much better. Directorialy flat and unimaginative.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


This film must be the most under-rated film of its time. It is a very accurate depiction of the battle of Isandhlwana and the massacre of the British Soldiers. The casting was brilliant, Burt Lancaster and Simon Ward were outstanding in the lead roles. The film following the lives of very different people through a very short timespan was very well done baring in mind the amount of people the film focused on, from a native south african messenger, to an arrogant British General. The film was fair to both armies that fought on that day and deserves to be recognised as a movie epic.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Zulu Dawn Quotes

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