What has “Ramblings with Clare Balding” got to do with the iconic 1964 film, Zulu? Not a lot one might think, and so I thought prior to my switching on the car radio and found myself listening to the latest episode of Clare Balding’s Radio 4 show, where each week she joins a group of ramblers, on one of their walks and pleasantly chats to them about their lives, interests and anything to do with the walk, while taking in the surroundings. This week we find Clare (who is better known these days as a capable sports commentator, and one who has learned her trade and commands respect), appropriately attired including wearing a pith helmet, joining “Team Zulu”, whose common interest was that film and its memorabilia, taking inspiration from a small, determined group that overcame great odds. These were the 150 British soldiers, some of which were sick and wounded in a field hospital, who fought against 4000 Zulu warriors, and won, in the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in 1879.
I was aware of the film and have watched it many years previously, but as I recalled it wasn’t a film that had made much of an impact, and it wasn’t one I had any particular desire to watch again, that was until listening to the ramblers and their peculiar obsession with the film, having memorized every scene and words spoken, who have watched the film many times. Thus inspired, I decided to watch. I was not disappointed. Often films do disappoint because they fail to meet expectations, lack depth etc., but not this film, on this occasion (how passing years changed one’s perceptions). As an accurate depiction of what happened, it was not entirely historically precise, although there was a lot of what was portrayed that did take place, as well as the producers license in inventing dialogue in accordance to what he thought took place and what he wanted to relate.
But heroic and human, the film was. The fact 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to soldiers taking part bears testimony to the heroism. As for the humanity, the film showed the differences in characters, which were portrayed to commendable depth, warts and all yet with sympathy and sensitivity, even if not with entire accuracy, who stood together with great resolve and against the overwhelming odds, and in the end they prevailed. It made me think yet again of the marvel, which is the human spirit when backs are up against the wall, with the most unlikely and ordinary achieving amazing feats, as happened when responding to the attack by Zulu warriors.
It is a good film that I am happy to recommend!