Cy Endfield and Anthony Story
SCRIPT APPEARS ON BLACK SCREEN:
One hundred years ago the British Colony of Natal in Southern
Africa was surrounded by a vast and independent Zulu Kingdom.
In 1879, a battle took place that was forever to alter the
course of colonial history: ISANDHLWANA.
Four Zulu's are seen in silhouette herding cattle up a hill.
LONG SHOT - Two Zulu's are seen in silhouette high on a
Seven Zulu's are seen walking in silhouette against the
The sun fills the screen as the sound of many running feet
and Zulu drums are heard.
EXT. ZULU KRAAL. DAY
A large regiment of Zulu warriors carrying shields and
assegais (stabbing spears) are seen running into the Kraal
whilst the sound of tribal singing, chanting and drum beating
Inside the camp a group of Zulu's are seen grappling with a
bull as they struggle to bring the animal to the ground.
They are watched by a vast circle of warriors all shouting
An elaborate tribal dance ensues. It appears to be some sort
of Fertility Rite. The females stand opposite the men in
rows, chanting as they move in closer.
CETSHWAYO, the great Zulu King emerges into the throng. He
is tall, beautifully fat, with a big intelligent face and
superb dignity. He surveys his subjects with interest as
they stand unanimous, thrusting their assegais into the air
whilst shouting their allegiance.
EXT. HIGH COMMISSIONER'S RESIDENCE, PIETERMARITZBURG, NATAL.
BARTLE FRERE (V.O.)
(Reading aloud the
BARTLE FRERE (V.O.)
(he has just written)
Cetshwayo's Zulu army to disband and
the warriors permitted to return to
SWITCH TO INTERIOR. FRERE is seated at his desk whilst LORD
CHELMSFORD is seen in the background standing on the veranda.
(He continues to read
Present military system to be
abandoned. New regulations concerning
the defence of the realm worked out.
CHELMSFORD enters the room, sits and studies two sheets of
All who do not submit will be dealt
with as enemies of the Crown. We
will not permit the arbitrary killing
(FRERE pauses as he
underlines a certain
and unjust oppression which the Zulu
people have suffered from their own
Pausing, FRERE looks up as if to meet his comrade's gaze.
CHELMSFORD, however, continues to read, turning the page.
You'll see from the letter that this
ultimatum is our decision alone. Her
Majesty's government seems to prefer
a negotiated settlement.
CLOSE UP of CHELMSFORD's letter:
Her Majesty's government
confidentially hope that by the
exercise of prudence and by meeting
of the Zulus in a spirit of
forbearance and reasonable compromise
it will be possible to avert the
very serious evil of a war with
Return to BARTLE FRERE. As he melts some sealing wax over a
(Referring to the
letter he has just
Does this do what we both know to be
It does Sir Henry,
(He folds the papers
neatly in half)
The pair exchange glances as BARTLE FRERE applies the wax to
CLOSE UP of stamped seal.
EXT. CHELMSFORD'S CAMP PIETERMARITZBURG. DAY
Activity everywhere, the incessant movement of an army in
the final stages of its formation. Huge ox-wagons are being
hauled into the camp.
CHELMSFORD and CREALOCK are on horseback in full regalia as
they ride into the centre of the Camp.
Squads of Basuto-infantry -- tall, rangy bodies, naked except
for a loincloth and neck ornaments -- are being drilled by
foul mouthed, bullying European NCO's.
LT. MELVILL, young, dapper, inspects the Martini Henry rifles
of a company of REDCOATS who are lined up near the BASUTOS.
A CSM (SGT. WILLIAMS) stalks behind MELVILL.
ONE REDCOAT, young, thin, gangling, turns his head slightly
to peek at the Basutos, and the swift eye of SGT. WILLIAMS
detects the disaffection. The young redcoat (PTE. WILLIAMS)
turns, guilty at being caught out of the 'Attention' position.
The CSM (SGT. WILLIAMS) leans forward until his face is one
inch from that of his quavering prey.
(With more restraint)
You moved. Go and tell the NCO of
that black shambles that you love
'im more than you love me.
PTE. WILLIAMS blinks, swallows then runs over to the Basuto's
(Addressing the Basutos)
You're not fit to be in the British
army you different coloured articles.
STRAIGHTEN UP! You're like a load of
bloody herd boys!
(He suddenly becomes
aware of PTE.
I'm to tell you Corporal, that I
love you more than my Colour Sergeant.
The Basuto's NCO walks up to PTE. WILLIAMS.
That's frightening... Get out of my
bloody sight lad. And put your rifle
over your head and double round this
until you drop bloody dead. Now move,
get on with it, at the double.
The Basutos, laughing, raise their shields into the air in
general amusement as PRIVATE WILLIAMS runs past.
Shut up! Get back in the ranks you
shower of animals.
CHELMSFORD, still on horseback, surveys the encampment. He
salutes to SGT. WILLIAMS. CREALOCK, as always, is in
(Facing the ranks)
Company Shoulder arms...
(LT. MELVILL joins
LT. MELVILL turns standing to attention, saluting as
Two BOERS ride into the camp, passing two SUTLERS wagons. We
see SGT. WILLIAMS' dismissed COMPANY hurriedly crowding round
one of the SUTLER'S wagons, shouting for cigars and gin.
The two BOERS, one an elderly man, one a boy of sixteen,
have dismounted. SGT. WILLIAMS strides over to them.
You passing through?
We've come to fight the Zulu.
We aren't at war yet.
(Referring to the boy)
Bit young 'in he?
He's my nephew... he can shoot, track
and speak Zulu and fight like hell...
he's got Assegai marks to prove it...
He gestures to the boy to show SGT. WILLIAMS. The YOUNG BOER
pulls up his shirt, showing an horrendous white scar across
his stomach. SGT. WILLIAMS stares in amazement. Coming to,
commanding the attention of a BOY-PULLEN in the ranks.
Take 'em to the orderly officer.
SGT. WILLIAMS departs.
(Standing to attention --
Addressing the BOERS)
The BOERS follow as the PTE. leads off.
A TROOP OF SIKALI HORSE under the command of COL. DURNFORD
ride into the camp. He is a tall, thin-haired man with
handsome sunburnt features, intelligent and sensitive eyes
and an over-length moustache. He has only the use of one
arm, his left arm being completely paralyzed and held
immobile, tucked into a special pocket he has sewn into his
tunic. COL. DURNFORD and SGT. MAJOR KAMBULA (A powerful and
intelligent African radiating authority) pull up as the troop
With the SIKALI in the foreground, PTE. WILLIAMS is seen in
the background, still running, his rifle above his head.
The same NCO seen previously addresses the BASUTOS:
(The BASUTOS comply)
SIKALI are seen cantering as if a pre-ordained manoeuvre is
about to commence.
DURNFORD and S.M. KAMBULA are surveying their troops.
Shall I give the order Sir?
S.M. KAMBULA rides offscreen.
The SIKALI gather together. S.M. KAMBULA's voice is heard
above the throng:
Sikali Horse Forward!
The SIKALI ride full pelt, charging at the BASUTOS.
The troop continues almost into the first line of the BASUTOS,
which consists of their European NCO's.
The European NCO's of the BASUTOS stare at the SIKALI troop
as they wheel and once again come galloping at them.
COL. PULLEINE, LT. MELVILL & LT. COGHILL are seen outside
the Officer's Mess amused at the commotion.
CLOSE UP. COL. DURNFORD laughing.
The NCO's edge away, unsure, prepared to take to their heels.
The BASUTO infantry watch, admiring, clapping.
The troop skillfully turns their horses, as if on a penny,
inches from the BASUTO NCO's then ride away, whooping, in
LORD CHELMSFORD & COL. CREALOCK, having watched this
exhibition, ride forward to meet COL. DURNFORD.
Splendid horsemanship. Who are they?
Sikali Horse, My Lord. Christians
all. I know each one by name.
They come well recommended do they?
My Lord, they rode for me at Bushman's
Oh... indeed. Crealock, we should
see that Colonel Durnford has an
Officer for his hard riders. Perhaps
a subaltern from the Twenty Fourth.
I thought it might be more effective
to find someone who speaks Zulu.
CHELMSFORD & CREALOCK exchange glances.
Yes. I see you've issued each of
them with a Martini Henry Carbine.
Our quota for Native contingencies:
one rifle to ten men and only five
rounds per rifle.
But will they make good use of them?
They're as good marksmen as horsemen.
There's no doubting their horsemanship
CHELMSFORD & DURNFORD salute.
DURNFORD exits offscreen.
We must think how to make best use
of Colonel Durnford's African
Through the smoke of the field kitchens enters the Honourable
WILLIAM VEREKER, aristocratically aloof on a fine stallion,
his servant following on an equally fine horse. He rides
purposely towards COL. DURNFORD as if he has been seeking
Colonel Durnford... William Vereker.
I hear you've been seeking Officers?
Good ones, yes, Mr Vereker. Gentlemen
who can ride and shoot.
DURNFORD waits for a reaction. VEREKER, cool, looks into
DURNFORD's face and takes out his rifle. Cantering some
distance away, VEREKER turns, spurs his horse vigorously
and, on reaching DURNFORD, throws his rifle up into the aim.
He fires one-handed at the half carcass of a cow being hung
up near the field kitchens without veering his galloping
horse. The half carcass shudders under the impact of the
PTE. WILLIAMS has been jogging wretchedly on. On hearing the
bullet he throws himself to the ground believing he has been
shot. Two of the kitchen hands help him to his feet.
CLOSE UP of SGT. WILLIAMS.
(Shouting across the
Private Williams. You've stopped.
PTE. WILLIAMS regains his composure and, once more lifting
his rifle above his head, continues to jog. SGT. WILLIAMS
looks on with smug satisfaction.
As VEREKER approaches, DURNFORD commands the attention of
Mr. Raw. Take Mr. Vereker to the
Store and see he's issued the
necessary equipment. And then show
him to the Mess and explain to him
how an Officer is expected to behave.
RAW salutes and leads VEREKER off left, as DURNFORD watches
INT. OFFICERS' MESS TENT. DAY
CLOSE UP. A scorpion is being removed from a specimen jar
with a pair of tweezers. It is lifted out of shot to be
examined under a magnifying glass revealing LIEUTENANTS
COGHILL & MELVILL seated at an impressive green baize table.
There are African servants, white-jacketed. SERGEANT MURPHY,
a short, broad humorous, coarse-faced man, supervises the
CHELMSFORD sits alone at a corner table reading his newspaper.
Other Officers are seated around the main table drinking
claret and smoking the obligatory cigars. COLONEL PULLEINE
is writing a letter whilst LT. HARFORD sits with his tins
around him classifying his specimens.
As SGT. MURPHY refills their glasses COGHILL & MELVILL gossip
covertly in half whispers so that their voices don't carry
to the table of their commander.
Our good Colonel Durnford scored
quite a coup with the Sikali Horse.
Um. There are rumours that my Lord
Chelmsford intends to make Durnford
Second in Command.
Well that's typical of Her Majesty's
army. Appoint an engineer to do a
(He continues writing
without looking up)
Now, now Mr. Melvill, less of your
COGHILL & MELVILL smile at one another before their attention
is drawn to LT. RAW and VEREKER entering the Mess.
(Addressing the Mess)
Stranger in the Mess, gentlemen.
The officers and Vereker survey each other.
VEREKER spots CHELMSFORD in the corner.
Good day Frederick.
Good day William.
(Folding his newspaper,
he stands to shake
Pleased you could join us.
The OFFICERS turn, a bit startled, to look at this newcomer
who is somehow on first-name terms with the Lord General.
It was either that, or join the Zulu.
(Removing his glasses)
Join the Zulu? Oh yes, you're right
in the thick of it aren't you? Talked
to your father before we sailed...
he said you'd taken to farming near
Zulu land. Sent his regards... Should
I meet up with you.
That was nice of the old boy.
I think you'd better call out who
VEREKER turns to address the Mess. CHELMSFORD sits.
Bring drinks for the stranger. Allow
me to introduce the Mess: Colonel
Pulleine. Messers. Melvill, Coghill...
With the exception of PULLEINE & MAJOR RUSSELL the Officers
stand as they are introduced.
During the introductions, SGT. MURPHY selects a large, silver,
chalice-like receptacle from a trophy table in another corner.
He takes it to the head of the table.
Jackson, Milne, Major Russell
How do you do?
Harford... and Harford's best friend.
HARFORD raises a glass jar containing one of his prized
specimens in acknowledgement. Meanwhile MURPHY has collected
a bottle of claret from a tray brought by another black
servant. He pours the contents into the trophy.
Don't leave your gin around, Vereker,
or Harford will have it full of
preserved butterflies. A damned waste,
if you ask me.
HARFORD chuckles as he replaces the lid on his jar.
Oh, I doubt if I'll leave much of
that around. There's quite a shortage
where I've been.
(Puffing on his cigar)
They fight with spears don't they? I
mean it doesn't seem quite fair
against the Martini Henry.
You didn't really have to chose
between your country and the Zulu
Um. And a damn close thing it was
(Taking the freshly
filled trophy from
Ah, well done Murphy.
(He presents it to
(The Officers sit)
Down it in one and we will share
your Mess bill for a week.
And if I don't?
Then a bottle of good claret to each
member of the Mess is charged to
If it's too much we can have the
bill forwarded to your father... in
the House of Lords. Oh, no offence
No offence taken, Melvill.
(Taking the trophy
To men who aren't afraid to speak
Good luck, Sir.
VEREKER begins to drink. Gradually, the officers join in
with cheers of encouragement until the entire Mess is chanting
"Down, down, down". They bang their fists on the table in
time with the chants.
Gulping back the liquid, VEREKER stops as if he has
accomplished his task. The Officers applaud. General ad.
lib. "Well done". Etc.
Turning the trophy upside-down, he pours a small amount of
liquid onto the floor. Appearing slightly intoxicated, his
lips stained red with the wine, he smiles:
The bottles of claret, are on me
General calls of "Here, here".
(Standing, he raises
his glass to propose
(Still smiling, he
wipes the remaining
wine from the corners
of his moustache)
EXT. ZULUKRAAL. DAY
A tall, bald imposing Zulu named MANTSHONGA enters the camp.
He makes his way through a large regiment of young Zulu braves
and older INDUNAS (officers). They surround two young Zulu
warriors who are tautly circling. Their shields are held at
the defensive, their assegais poised for underhand thrust.
CLOSE SHOT - The two warriors fighting.
LONG SHOT - The vast crowd encircling the warriors.
The crowd cheers as CHIEF CETSHWAYO watches from his throne.
MANTSHONGA, spotting CETSHWAYO, walks purposefully towards
I bring greetings from your friends,
the British, and from the Great Lord
(Still watching the
And what do your Masters say?
They are angry and send these demands.
They say you rule in old ways that
are wrong, that you kill your people
without trial. The Great White Queen
herself cannot kill her lowliest
subject though she rules forty lands,
each greater than all of Zululand.
Kill the Traitor, Father!
(Gesturing to his son
to calm down)
I do kill, under the customs of the
Zulu, and I shall not depart from
that. Do I go to the country of the
white man and tell him to change his
laws and customs?
The British say your armies grow
larger and they demand that you
disband your Impis of War.
Tell the British I will not cross
the river which divides our lands.
But ask Lord Chelmsford if he would
disarm his warriors in the face of
CLOSE UP. The two Zulus are now in ferocious combat.
SWITCH back to alternate CLOSE shots of CETSHWAYO &
I will ask him, but his answer will
be to start war against your 30,000
My armies will defend this land.
General uproar as one of the fighting Zulus falls to the
ground. Standing, CETSHWAYO gives the signal to kill. The
triumphant Zulu drives his assegai into the other's heart. A
group of warriors converge upon the body as MANTSHONGA turns
EXT. GARDEN. DIOCESAN MANSION. DAY
A garden party is in full swing. There are tables and chairs
dotted about a spacious garden. Stringed music is playing
and there is an air of English civility. There are ladies
with parasols, children playing and Officers present.
FANNY COLENSO -- 25, her cheeks aflame, her manner excitable,
is engaged in a sedate game of cricket with some children
and officers. She bats the ball some distance away near COL.
COL. DURNFORD, engaged in conversation with an Officer and a
lady, turns on hearing his name. He spots the ball.
(Handing his hat to
Picking up the ball, he gives it to a little girl who has
run to collect it.
(Smiling at FANNY)
Well batted. Well batted.
FANNY curtsies in mock recognition. Her eyes flash to his
and we sense their secret feeling for each other.
VEREKER & two other officers ride along the drive to the
mansion. Dismounting VEREKER hands the reigns of his horse
to a well-dressed black groomsman and steps forward extending
his hand in greeting to the black butler.
Joseph, how are all the Colenso girls?
They are all in the garden, Sir. And
they will be glad to see you, I'm
VEREKER walks down the slope of the lawn, past a young girl
on a swing, her maid is in attendance. Removing his hat, he
spots FANNY being bowled to by LT. MILNE. Creeping up behind
her, VEREKER indicates to MILNE to bowl high.
(catching the ball
MILNE has just bowled)
You tipped it! You tipped it! Out!
I did not...
You cheat, you.
Me cheat? Same old Fanny.
(He kisses her on the
(With genuine affection)
Welcome. Welcome back.
Taking his arm, FANNY & VEREKER walk across the lawn. VEREKER
throws the ball back to the cricketers.
DURNFORD, still engaged in conversation, turns smiling. His
smile fades as he spots FANNY with VEREKER.
Excuse me, Ladies.
Leaving them, he makes towards FANNY & VEREKER.
Did you get your farm going?
Yes, I did.
Oh. How was it?
I've never been so happy.
Stopping, FANNY addresses him earnestly.
I'm sorry you had to leave.
DURNFORD approaches them.
You've met the... Honourable William
Vereker, I believe.
Yes Anthony, we were childhood
Your childhood friend shot a dead
cow at the gallop the other day.
He wasn't impressed.
SWITCH TO MANSION VERANDA.
CHELMSFORD watches the threesome as BARTLE FRERE approaches
him, puffing on a cigar.
There is a Mrs. Durnford, is there?
She exists... but er... nothing's
been heard of her, the eight years
Durnford's been in Africa.
Although much is spoken of her now,
These three walk along the veranda.
I, er, recommended him to you...
because he knows Africa so well.
Oh, indeed. His ability to recruit
native contingents is proving
invaluable to His Lordship.
How do you rate him as a soldier?
It is widely held that he has great
courage and he's an excellent
(Walking down the
Shall we join the guests?
The DEWITT sisters, both in their whites, are seen playing a
game of tennis. They are being watched by LTS. MELVILL &
COGHILL (They are both seated). One of the ladies moves off
court to fetch the ball that has gone out of play. She glances
up at COGHILL.
Do you think she might be interested
Well that one. The one who keeps
looking at me.
It could be you flatter yourself
Coghill. It's that odd eye.
Lt. Raw approaches.
They must have locked all the good
BARTLE FRERE, CHELMSFORD & CREALOCK have now joined a
selection of the guests at some tables on the lawn for
Do you find our Border Country
congenial, My Lord?
The landscape, most congenial Ma'am,
but the Border, vulnerable.
Do you really think Cetshwayo will
DURNSFORD, VEREKER & FANNY have also joined the party.
The intention of the Zulu Impis and
their King concern me deeply, Ma'am.
Cetshwayo has no intention of
attacking Natal, Mrs. Pretorious.
Unless he's given no option. He has
no quarrel with us.
(Sitting next to FANNY)
It's very rare to meet a young lady
interested in tactical matters, Miss
Colenso. Is it not, Sir Henry, most
You are talking of a violent and
murdering barbarian who commands an
army of 30,000 warriors just across
My father has known and lived with
the Zulus for many years.
Cetshwayo massacred 20,000 of his
own people to make himself King.
The English Tudor Kings did no less.
Much later in our nation's history,
I might add, and the French much
That may well be, Your Grace, but be
that as it may, my duty is clear the
defence of all this...
Yes, well, it's difficult to stand
against that position. If you speak
(Leaning forward &
looking him in the
And what does our good Colonel
(Walking around the
tables to join VEREKER)
If the people of Natal wish to feel
safe, let them persuade their husbands
and sons to volunteer. We need both
Officers and men.
We do Colonel, good point.
I cannot be brought to believe that
Cetshwayo wants a war with Britain.
Every Zulu is raised to be a warrior
Without a war there'd be no Zulu
Nobody is really safe, are they Your
JOSEPH has appeared at BARTLE FRERE's side. He whispers
something into his ear.
Mrs. Dewitt has four daughters, Henry,
and I fear she feels for them all.
VEREKER has wandered away from the tables. He is watching
MELVILL & COGHILL chatting to the two DEWITT girls who were
previously playing tennis.
Your daughters may indeed be in some
danger Mrs. Dewitt, but not at the
moment from the Zulus, I fear.
The parties' attention is drawn to the four on the lawn.
CLOSE UP of MRS. DEWITT as she laughs politely.
As the camera swings back to the four on the lawn we see
MANTSHONGA in the background. The camera follows him ending
in CLOSE UP as he strides forward to meet BARTLE FRERE. BARTLE
FRERE looks grave as if he is already aware of the news he
is about to hear.
SWITCH, LONG SHOT to where BARTLE FRERE, CHELMSFORD, CREALOCK
& MANTSHONGA are now standing. BARTLE FRERE addresses the
entire garden party.
Ladies and gentlemen, your attention,
LONG SHOT of lawn. The guests move forward.
The camera closes in on the four on the veranda. With one
arm behind his back, a cigar in his other hand, BARTLE FRERE
I think I should inform you that I
am obliged to issue a state of war
between Her Majesty's Government and
the Zulu King, Cetshwayo...
SWITCH to CLOSE UP of VEREKER & COLENSO. General background
noises of dismay as BARTLE FRERE carries on.
on his non compliance with the
ultimatum made on him urging
CLOSE UP of FANNY & DURNFORD. He drops his head, averting
CLOSE UP of BARTLE FRERE. He continues:
and redress for violations of British
The guests applaud as CHELMSFORD & BARTLE FRERE shake hands.
CLOSE UP of FANNY & DURNFORD.
Why? Why do men think of nothing but
(She touches his
disabled arm lovingly)
Tucking his hat under his arm, he looks into her eyes and
kisses her hand.
Walking away, he replaces his hat and reaching the top of
the veranda steps, turns. They exchange desperate, painful
CLOSE UP OF COLENSO
This wonderful land we are privileged
(Removing his glasses)
(hanging his head)
there should be room for all of us.
EXT. CHELMSFORD'S CAMP. PIETERMARITZBURG. NIGHT
ASSORTED CLOSE SHOTS TO COVER THE MOVE TO RORKE'S DRIFT --
WAGON WHEELS CREAKING AS THEY TAKE THE FIRST STRAIN OF
MOVEMENT, OXEN HOOVES STARTING FORWARD ON RUTTED DIRT
SURFACES, WAGONEERS FLICKING WHIPS, PACKS GOING ONTO BACKS
OF SOLDIERS, BARE FEET OF NATIVE LEVIES, OFFICERS MOUNTING,
THEN SIMILAR DETAILS TO SHOW RHYTHMIC FORWARD PROGRESS,
MARCHING, ROLLING DARK SILHOUETTED FORMS. TORCHES.
THREE OFFICERS stand watching:
There goes Number Two Company.
Q.S.M. BLOOMFIELD CUTS ACROSS SHOT he is studying a list
attached to a clipboard. He is about to walk past a tent
when he hears a call of "I'll see yer" coming from within.
Suspecting gambling, he moves to investigate.
Pulling back the tent flap reveals a group, including BOY-
PULLEN playing a game of cards.
Do I believe what me eyes see? The
whole bleedin' Army movin' off to
meet the murderin' heathen and what
goes on in 'ere? A game of Brag.
I'm sorry, Quartermaster.
You'll be more sorrier still when
the Zulu ask Lad... "What 'ave you
got to offer me not to slit your
gut?" and you say
(Pointing to the cards
in BOY-PULLEN's hand)
ah, the Knave of Hearts, Sir, the
Knave of Hearts.
The rest of the group chuckle.
Offering BOY-PULLEN a coin, BLOOMFIELD gives the order "Move!"
Taking the coin BOY-PULLEN leaves the tent.
SWITCH to BANDSTAND. A band is playing "Men Of Harlech".
CHELMSFORD & BARTLE FRERE move into CLOSE UP in foreground.
For a savage as to a child,
chastisement is sometimes a kindness.
Let us hope then, that this will be
the final solution to the Zulu
EXT. COLUMN ON THE MOVE. NIGHT
BOY-PULLEN moves against the traffic towards the back of the
moving column. He passes squads of torchlighted marchers,
artillery units, riders, wagons, until he comes to the
THREE SOLDIERS ENTER SHOT and surreptitiously help themselves
out of the back of the moving wagon. Noticing, BOY-PULLEN
seizes his chance and grabbing a bottle out one of the
soldier's hands, makes a dash for it.
'Ere! Come back 'ere you thievin'
MOVING SHOT. CHELMSFORD, on foot salutes an officer as
DURNFORD approaches from behind on horseback.
I've prepared a list of ideas for
you to see.
(He removes a paper
from his tunic)
Excellent. Thank you.
(He continues to walk
Give them to Crealock, would you?
This list was prepared for you. I
don't think another can understand
its true value.
(Taking the list)
Thank you Colonel Durnford.
(He exits as DURNFORD
CHELMSFORD joins his group of officers. He mounts his horse
and then addresses them:
Gentlemen, within ten days we shall
cross the Buffalo River and British
soldiers will then be in Zululand.
Colonel Durnford will remain down
CLOSE UP of DURNFORD. He looks agitated by this remark.
Undeterred, Chelmsford continues:
where he will be responsible for the
defence of the Natal border.
Turning his horse and without looking at DURNFORD he leads
his Party off.
BLOOMFIELD is joined by BOY-PULLEN.
Will you hear "Last Post", Sir?
I listened extra careful to your
"Stand To" this mornin', Boy. It was
perfect. I couldn't've done it better
meself, not even when I was Bugler
to The Duke Of Wellington... now
tell me, where did you get that black
From the Cook, Sir. They saw me dip
your shaving tin in the tea-water
this morning, made their tea taste
of Lifebuoy toilet soap, they said.
Handing him the bottle of gin he purloined earlier.
So, you got it in the line of dooty...
(Taking a swig from
the bottle & handing
it back to BOY-PULLEN)
BLOOMFIELD gets up onto a wagon as BOY-PULLEN gulps from the
Will we be fighting the Zulus soon,
he jumps up onto the
front of the wagon)
(He shouts for the
wagon to move out)
Across the river into Zululand.
(They share the bottle
They might just be waiting there for
us to show up.... them stabbing
assegais pointing right at our
You afeared of the Zulus then,
One Zulu is only one man... and I'm
afeared of no one man... but the
Zulu, they come in the thousands...
like a black wave of death... in the
thousands... and them assegais...
The BOY-PULLEN doesn't answer. He stares into the darkness,
contemplating the prospect of the morning as described by
Back in the centre of the camp, VEREKER rides past the
bandstand to meet DURNFORD.
Your orders, Mr Vereker?
I'm to take the Sikali with the main
column to the river.
Lord Chelmsford seems to want me to
stay back with my Basutos.
I think Chelmsford wants a good man
on the border. Why he fears a flanking
attack and requires a steady Commander
The wrong side of the river! The
(DURNFORD glares at
VEREKER, who realizes
he has hit a raw
Does he wish me to fight the Zulu,
or merely observe their natural
Sensing his cue to exit, VEREKER salutes and saying "Sir"
turns his horse to join the Sikali who are leaving the camp.
DURNFORD walks his horse a few paces forward as he watches
the troop leave.
God go with you, Mr Vereker.
(He turns his horse
about as the band
music swells to its
THE CAMP AT RORKE'S DRIFT. THE BORDER WITH ZULULAND. DAY
THE THREAT OF THE BACKLIGHTED LANDSCAPE BEFORE THEM, THE SUN
GLARE MAKING CLARITY OF VISION DIFFICULT. CAMERA PANS UP
RIVER. THE MOUNTED INFANTRY CROSS TO THE FAR BACK, THE UNION
JACK HELD PROUDLY ALOFT.
Two punts, carrying redcoated soldiers are being hauled across
the water by rows of Basutos on the opposite bank. As they
unload, the soldiers immediately form into columns.
The first ox-wagon is driven out of the river, with much
shouting and encouragement from the drover and watching
soldiers. There is general activity everywhere.
LOW SHOT. The wheels of the wagons and the Basuto's feet are
seen trudging through the slop of mud.
LONG SHOT OF CAMP. A column of Basutos is seen walking towards
the camp. The white tents are dominant in the background.
SWITCH to CHELMSFORD, seen mounted on horseback. He surveys
the proceedings through a pair of binoculars.
CAMERA PANS to discover VEREKER, on horseback, leading the
troop of SIKALI HORSE across the river.
CAMERA PICKS UP a calm LT. RAW as he crosses amidst the
CLOSE UP of VEREKER. With gritted determination he spurs his
horse onward up the bank.
SGT. WILLIAMS is seen seated upon a covered wagon about to
enter the water.
PTE. WILLIAMS is on foot trying to instruct the animals.
(Pushing one of the
animals from the
Come on ox.
Out! Not the ox's arse, you bloody
(PTE. WILLIAMS returns
to pushing the side
of the wagon)
Get 'em in line!
PTE. WILLIAMS loses his footing, slipping into the water. He
is fully immersed.
Serg' ah, I'm drowning Sergeant.
(He stands and we see
that the water only
comes up to his knee)
Williams, what the bloody 'ell do
you mean by 'aving the same name as
(He struggles onward
through the water)
COGHILL & MELVILL are seen crossing.
More oxen cross.
A column of redcoats carrying rifles are seen striding onward.
The SIKALI HORSE ride past in the foreground.
WIDE ANGLE. Both sides of the river are seen. Redcoats climb
the hill in the foreground. Everywhere seems more settled.
CAMERA again picks up the SIKALI HORSE. They ride across
screen in CLOSE FOREGROUND to reveal a stationary VEREKER on
NORRIS-NEWMAN rides towards him. He has a red claret-and-
port-drinker's face and is wearing civilian bush-clothes
including a huge bush-hat.
Do you think Cetshwayo will send a
party to greet you, Mr Vereker?
(Calmly stroking his
Oh they're here alright. We just
have to make sure they don't get
back to announce us.
You mean you've seen them?
Without answering, VEREKER turns his horse towards the hills.
Breaking into a gallop, he shouts the command:
NORRIS-NEWMAN watches through his binoculars, then turns his
horse back towards the camp.
EXT. RIVERBANK OPPOSITE RORKE'S DRIFT. DAY
CLOSE UP of CHELMSFORD. We see the view through his
He is watching NORRIS-NEWMAN enter the camp.
CREALOCK approaches on horseback. They exchange salutes.
What's that strange name the newspaper
Er, called Noggs, Sir. Actual name
is Norris-Newman. He presented
credentials from "The Standard".
Our runners bare his dispatches, do
Of course, Sir.
They exchange knowing looks and turn their horses about
EXT. SWITCH TO RIVER. CLOSE TO CAMP - RORKE'S DRIFT. DAY
A long line of NATAL NATIVE COMPANY is transporting wooden
boxes of ammunition on their shoulders across the river.
V.0. of a brusque NCO is heard:
Come on lads, it's only a river!
(The NCO is seen in
CLOSE UP in the
LIEUTENANT COLONEL HAMILTON-BROWN, a rough kishman, and old
campaigner joins in:
Come on you piss-arse lot, get these
bastards across. It's only water.
Come along you idle scum, let's 'ave
HAMILTON-BROWN rides away as we see a native fall into the
water under his burden.
CHELMSFORD and his Company cross the river.
NATAL NATIVE COMPANY is seen again, still struggling across
The NCO's VOICE is heard:
I'll 'ave your guts fer garters!
On the far bank CHELMSFORD and his Company are seen riding
to meet NORRIS-NEWMAN.
An historical moment, Gentlemen.
Excuse me, My Lord.
Norris-Newman, of "The Standard", My
I saw you lead our Cavalry sir.
Indeed I did, My Lord. It was one of
the first to cross.
Were they in good heart as they
entered enemy territory?
They spurred onto high ground, My
Lord, full of spirit and looking for
the Zulu. Full of sport they were,
Tell what you see. Write it well,
Sir, and make sure you get it right.
If I've got it right, My Lord, you
lead an invasion into Zululand, for
I see it all around me, but "why?"
is the question my readers will ask.
Do not confuse yourself of why? We
must strike a heavy blow. This cannot
be a war of manoeuvre.
So attack is your defence. Well let's
hope Cetshwayo will offer his Impis
My only fear is that the Zulu will
avoid the engagement.
He turns his horse about and his Company follow as NORRIS-
NEWMAN looks on in amazement.
CAMERA PANS to follow CHELMSFORD and his Company as they
ride to the foot of the hills.
We see the view through CHELMSFORD's binoculars. He spots
VEREKER with the SIKALI HORSE.
NORRIS-NEWMAN has caught up with CHELMSFORD:
I have it, My Lord, we attack for
sport -- or is it reputations?
Enough of your politicking, Noggs.
I know your views on the usefulness
of the Press, My Lord, but the
Englishman back home wants to know
what his Regiments are doing.
(Resuming his gaze
through the binoculars)
Then I trust you will tell him exactly
what you have observed.
QM BLOOMFIELD pulls a drowned Basuto from the river onto the
bank. He removes the man's ammunition belt.
LT. HARFORD approaches. He is on horseback.
Look at that waste. Five rounds ruined
Mr. Haiford. Each round has to be
(Referring to the
It's terrible. Quite dreadful.
Something must be done.
If they'd been put back in their
(moving towards Harford)
boxes banded and screwed down proper
like, as His Lordship ordered, nothing
would have happened to them, Sir.
I'm talking about our drowned Natives,
Natives is not on my invoices, Mr
Harford... ammunition is, and 'as to
be accounted for and the brass
cartridge cases returned.
In disgust, LT. HARFORD turns his horse about. He meets
HAMILTON-BROWN at the top of the bank.
Several of our Natives went under.
Shouldn't we have a roll call,
Not practical, lad... we haven't had
time to make up the rolls yet.
Besides, I'm not sure how many we
had before the crossing.
HAMILTON-BROWN canters away.
LT. HARFORD follows reluctantly, not enthralled by this show
A Zulu recognisance party is seen atop the ridge. They view
the scene below.
VEREKER and the SIKALI HORSE ascend the ridge.
The infantry -- the Twenty Fourth Foot -- fan out in sections,
alert to possible attack, and make for the high ground.
CHELMSFORD's party rides by below.
One of the Zulu's fires a warning shot into the air.
VEREKER halts his company, as does CHELMSFORD.
The guilty Zulu's voice booms out from above:
Why do you come to the land of the
LT. MELVILL turns about in his saddle to address CHELMSFORD.
May I answer, Sir?
By all means, Mr. Melvill.
(Moving his horse
forward a few paces,
he bellows a reply)
We come here by the Orders of the
Great Queen Victoria. Queen of all
There is a moment of silence:
(Gives the order)
MELVILL turns to face his Redcoats.
Turning to a member of his party:
Major, send the troops.
There is a steady advance up the hill. The Zulus turn,
scrambling through the undergrowth.
The SIKALI approach. One of the Zulus turns and stands his
ground. He thrusts his assegai at his foe dismounting the
SIKALI from his horse. In a second the Zulu jumps astride
the horse but his escape is prevented by an offending shot
from another SIKALI.
More SIKALI advance. They bring down several more Zulus.
A group of four Zulus converge on one SIKALI. They pull him
off his horse into a crop of rocks. One Zulu manages to mount
the horse and rides away encouraged by the others.
VEREKER notices this. Slowly and deliberately he removes his
rifle from his saddle, takes aim and then fires. The dead
warrior falls to the ground.
A group of LANCERS track one ZULU. The lead LANCER approaches,
guiding his horse expertly. He feints with the downstroke of
The ZULU lowers his shield.
The LANCER, on the ZULU now, uses the up-stroke to impale
the ZULU to a tree.
NOGGS rides near the incident.
CHELMSFORD has surveyed the incident through his binoculars.
Well done, Sir. Did you see, that
Noggs? He deceived him with the up
and took him with the down.
(Studying the deceased
Zulu from his horse)
Well, well. This one's a grandfather.
At least if he'd been a Zulu in his
prime, I'd have given odds against
your Lancer, Mr. Melvill.
CHELMSFORD returns his binoculars to their case.
Well, Gentlemen, first blood to us
and a rousing good report in the
newspapers to satisfy the politicians,
EXT. CAMP AT RORKE'S DRIFT. DUSK
Camp-fires are seen and the sound of neighing horses are
heard as the CAMERA follows a small troop of horsemen and
wagon cross the river. The CAMERA pans towards the sunset as
the "Last Post" is heard.
EXT. CETSHWAYO'S KRAAL. FIRST DAWN
The ROYAL IMPIS squat as they listen to their King. Huge,
powerful, glowering. He holds the royal trident spear in his
hand as he strides before them.
My warriors, our people are hungry.
We must gather the crops that will
feed us through the Winter. But first
we must defend our lands... from
those who would steal the fruits of
our labours. The British have broken
their promise... and crossed the
Buffalo River into our homelands. We
must fight to survive.
A huge hissing sound comes from the multitudes. Assegais
thrust to the sun red sky. CETSHWAYO points westward.
We must kill!
Usutu... Usutu... Usutu...
Black outlines against the rising red sun, assegais and
shields rattling, the Zulus hail their King, pledging loyalty
to the death.
LONGSHOT. EARLY MORNING
The full splendour of the mountain can be seen through the
mist. The country, wide-rolling, is beautiful, but empty.
The camp is silent. ALL men's eyes are towards the mountain.
CHELMSFORD, seated, views the sight through his telescope.
CREALOCK & PULLEINE are close by.
MELVILL approaches on horse-back. He addresses PULLEINE:
We're ready to move out, Colonel.
My Lord, we're prepared to move armour
Your destination, Colonel?
(He has difficulty
pronouncing the word)
Isandhlwana. Four miles further than
that tallest hill. Follow the track
and it will lead us to the slopes of
(Leaning away from
THE ARMY PREPARES TO MARCH INLAND FROM THE RIVER.
CHELMSFORD'S army, with ox-wagons seven-abreast, comes to
life and proceeds to lumber noisily toward the peak.
MELVILL'S company of REDCOATS, guarding the left flank of
the wagons, marches, rifles at the ready. Platoons move
tactically, one section of each platoon is always in a
Tension everywhere. Drovers glance anxiously upwards. Empty
of visible signs of the enemy, the hills are no less
MELVILL (on horseback) approaches the lead wagon driven by
BLOOMFIELD & BOY-PULLEN.
I want your wagons in an extended
line, Quartermaster, but not too
extended, or my Company can't protect
them. No more than fifty feet between
MELVILL RETURNS TO THE FLANK
If they're too close together, the
stupid things'll walk into each other
and you can sit on your arse for a
good four hours.
Turning about on his seat he addresses the train under his
Come on lads, keep them wagons moving.
No more than fifty feet. Keep 'em
moving. Keep 'em moving.
COGHILL, stationary, astride his horse watches the movement.
There Melvill, there stretched out
is my Lord Chelmsford's Army.
(Spurring his horse
What a wonderful adventure we
undertake. What a marvelous spree.
COGHILL & MELVILL break into a canter.
VARIOUS SHOTS OF THE INCESSANT MOVEMENT FORWARDS.
SHOUTS, COMMANDS, THE MOVE INTO ZULULAND has started with
EXT. ZULULAND EAST OF ISANDHLWANA. HOT SUNNY DAY
FANNIN, a short, fat English settler, in his thirties, gross-
featured, rides sleepily over sloping terrain. Behind him,
on foot, several black African retainers follow desultorily.
FANNIN snorts, sweats, appears generally fat and unhealthy.
He halts his horse and removes a bottle from his saddlebag.
He takes a large swig from the remaining liquid and discards
FANNIN reaches the top of an animal track at the top of a
ridge. Looking down he spots several ZULUS herding a small
group of cattle.
The ZULUS shout calls of alarm.
Turning around to give orders to his retainers, FANNIN spots
them scrambling down the slope away from the ZULUS.
As FANNIN returns to face front, he gapes as he notices that
the valley is black with ZULU IMPIS. They are run-marching
towards the west. No noise save the disciplined swish of
thousands of feet in the dust.
FANNIN hesitates, realizes he's been spotted, quickly, cruelly
jerks his horse's head round and spurs over the ridge into
the next valley.
UHAMA calls out and MBILINI, BAYELE & another, with UHAMA,
sprint up the ridge in pursuit of FANNIN. As they mount the
crest, they see FANNIN belting down the far side in search
of safety. UHAMA stops the other three momentarily from
continuing the chase.
Follow the white Man, let him see
you. He will lead you to the soldiers.
Then, let the white Soldiers take
you. When they think they have broken
you, tell them that the Impis are in
EXT. ZULULAND NEAR ISANDHLWANA. DAY
The three Zulus set off in pursuit of FANNIN.
Riding desperately, FANNIN, his mouth open in fear and his
shoulders heaving with effort, drives his tired horse over
the rough country.
FANNIN peers about. Huge pistol in his hand, he spots MBILINI
MBILINI 'dies' dramatically, but when FANNIN rides on, MBILINI
comes to life, grinning and joins the others to track FANNIN.
VEREKER and SIKALI appear beyond the next ridge. Spotting
FANNIN, VEREKER gives the signal to advance.
FANNIN reaches VEREKER's party.
FANNIN droops in his saddle, too tired to talk. He manages
(Offering a drink
from his hip-flask)
I'm ill... dozens of Zulus followed
me. I must have shot five, six, ten,
I lost count. They just kept coming.
Blood curdling swine.
VEREKER looks down the slope at the three Zulus who have now
been apprehended by the SIKALI. FANNIN drinks again. His
avid, greedy behaviour does not enamour his rescuers.
Why did they attack you?
I discovered their Army, Your Honour.
A valley full of them and beyond.
Army? What Army?
Beyond them hills, Sir, and coming
VEREKER surveys the area. The terrain is empty.
A concealed Zulu scout watches stolidly at the distance
reduced figures below.
THE CAMP AT ISANDHLWANA. 21, JANUARY. 6:00PM
CHELMSFORD's party ride into camp.
PULLEINE is seated at a table outside his tent. He is smoking
and studying a document as SGT. MURPHY pours red wine into
his tankard. VEREKER crosses in front of the table.
Officer Vereker, er, would you mind
me asking you to take a look at this
(Returning to the
By all means, Colonel.
The ELDERLY & YOUNG BOER seen earlier approach PULLEINE.
Your wagons, Colonel...
What about my wagons?
On an open slope like this, you must
bring your wagons round and form
them into a laager and do it
CHELMSFORD and his lancers arrive at PULLEINE's tent.
CHELMSFORD dismounts and addresses PULLEINE.
I hear you have prisoners, Colonel,
Good evening, William.
Thank you, Sir.
Good evening, Frederick. I think you
should hear this.
(To Elderly Boer)
You were saying your brother didn't
laager his camp right?
They had seventy-three in their party.
We found seventy-three skeletons six
(After a moment's
Boers require to laager with only a
few wagons, we have many. An
unassailable square of British
firepower is a defence which can be
turned in a moment.
The BOERS start to move away.
You're leaving us Master Boer?
The ELDERLY BOER turns.
I'm going to camp among the rocks
The BOERS exit.
My Lord, Mr. Fannin, er...
(Picking up and
referring to the map)
claims to have seen the Zulu Impis,
some few thousand or so, in this
CLOSE UP of map location.
(Using his riding
crop as a pointer)
most unlikely. It would mean taking
24,000 men over mountain tops. This
is not helpful. Have the prisoners
brought to my camp.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD ISANDHLWANA. EVENING
The three Zulu prisoners are tied to two wagons. A CORPORAL
is administering a serious beating to BAYELE.
(Indicating to cease
Alright Corporal. Anything?
No sir, no.
VEREKER turns to the prisoner at the other wagon.
Be sensible man, tell us.
The prisoner maintains his silence as VEREKER walks away in
REDCOATS and NATAL NATIVE SOLDIERS, in their separate
quarters, clean their rifles, carefully oiling the barrels
and working. VEREKER passes RUSSELL busy oiling the elevating
mechanisms on his rocket tubes.
(Referring to the job
Dirty work, eh?
INT. CHELMSFORD'S TENT.
CHELMSFORD is seated. PULLEINE and CREALOCK stand behind
him. FANNIN is standing to one side beside the desk. VEREKER
converses with two of the prisoners in Zulu.
What did they say?
Claim they're deserters from the
main Impis in the East. Followed
this way so they could give themselves
up, go home.
Do you believe that?
Oh, their bodies are well oiled.
They're fed regularly, but it's
unlikely they're the fugitives they
Have them questioned further.
VEREKER exits with the prisoners.
(Rising to address
FANNIN at the desk)
They claim the Zulu Impis are East
towards the Royal Kraal, and yet
this fellow says they are further
towards the North.
(He picks up the map)
Wherever they are, Your Worship,
there are sixty thousand or more.
They multiply, Mr. Fannin. You do
speak the Zulu tongue, do you?
And tomorrow I intend to find the
Zulu Impis, Mr. Fannin, and you will
Er, I'm no soldier, Your Honour, and
it's further into Zululand.
You will accompany me, Mr. Fannin,
or you will be arrested.
(He gives PULLEINE a
glance as an
indication to dismiss
This way, Mr. Fannin.
Crealock. We have scouts out in the
direction he claims he saw the Zulus?
Of course, Sir.
The only reports of enemy activity
have come from the direction of the
Royal Kraal, at Ulundi.
CREALOCK exits as CHELMSFORD continues to study the map.
BOY-PULLEN stands on top of a wagon gazing at the sunset.
BLOOMFIELD is checking stores. BOY-PULLEN clambers down and
walks over to BLOOMFIELD.
Why don't the Zulus attack?
Zulu may not wear shoes or trousers
and the like but it don't mean to
say they got no brains. They'll watch
us and wait and find our weaknesses.
Studying his clipboard, BLOOMFIELD crosses into foreground.
Have we weaknesses, Quartermaster?
BLOOMFIELD does not answer. He strides forward out of shot.
BOY-PULLEN turns, places his bugle to his lips & plays "The
EXT. ZULULAND EAST OF BUFFALO. NIGHT
The camp is quiet -- but wakeful at the imminence of battle.
PTE. WILLIAMS is on sentry-go. There are men seated around a
camp fire, PTE. STOREY sits on the back of a wagon, smoking.
PTE. WILLIAMS stares into the black night. Insect noises, a
horse neighs. He hears something more alarming. His eyes
widen, his grip on his rifle tightens. He listens again. He
moves to the front of the wagon, convinced he has heard
Returning to the rear he addresses STOREY.
What was that, Storey?
What? Piss off. I never heard nothing.
(After a moment's
I don't think.
Well I did. Stand To.
(He positions his
rifle at the ready)
Tutting, STOREY throws his cigarette to the ground. He stands,
The others do not move.
(In a forced whisper
to the others)
Ignoring him, all but one remain seated. One other has lit a
torch from the fire.
This PTE. proceeds to SGT. WILLIAMS' tent.
Stand To, Colour Sergeant.
(From within his tent)
Who gave the order?
Private Williams, Sir
(Emerging from his
I've gotta see this.
SGT. WILLIAMS has reached the wagon. PTE. WILLIAMS is still
aiming his rifle into the blackness.
Did you call 'Stand To', Private
PTE. WILLIAMS nods, still listening.
I didn't hear nothing, Serg'.
SGT. WILLIAMS looks at STOREY. His face shows complete
contempt for PTE. WILLIAMS. Then he hears something also. It
is the approaching sound of horses hooves.
(With sudden urgency)
Well, Stand To, damn you!
PTE. WILLIAMS takes out his bayonet and attempts to fix it.
SGT. WILLIAMS lays a hand on his arm as if to replace the
bayonet back in it's scabbard.
No. You've done well fer once. Don't
push yer luck!
(He continues to attach
I heard 'em first
I'll get you a medal for modesty,
Private Williams, would you like
You never would, Colour Sergeant. A
There are loud noises of advancing bodies coming directly
FROM THE BLACKNESS:
Colonel Durnford here.
(To PTE. WILLIAMS)
As DURNFORD and his escort of fifty mounted BASUTOS approach,
SGT. WILLIAMS salutes.
Just follow the track, Sir, you'll
come to Lord Chelmsford's Head
(Spurring his horse
Get down, lads.
The line of sentries relax, unfix their bayonets and most
proceed to return to their sleeping bags.
PTE. WILLIAMS is deflated almost to the point of tears.
You done well. Keep it up, lad. Keep
A smile reappears upon PTE. WILLIAMS face. He resumes his
watch with renewed enthusiasm.
INT. CHELMSFORD'S TENT NIGHT.
CHELMSFORD is seated on his bed. DURNFORD stands before him
distressed, blinking at his commander's verbal assault.
You intended to bring your reserves
across the river?
I have received intelligence from,
sources of my own that the Zulu Impis
are moving North of here and threaten
Intelligence? Sources of your own?
Did it not occur to you they may be
native rumours? Rumours to draw you
off -- to leave the whole of Natal
open to a possible counter thrust
(After a beat)
Cetshwayo wants a head on battle. A
decisive victory, so that his people
can get on with the one battle that
is life and death for his Nation --
a delayed harvest
Are you dictating the strategy of
this war, Sir?
I'm explaining my reasons.
CREALOCK enters the tent.
A large party of Zulus have been
sighted in the direction of the King's
Getting up, CHELMSFORD moves over to look at the map on his
CLOSE UP of map as CHELMSFORD picks up a pair of dividers
and measures the distance between Isandhlwana and Ulundi.
CHELMSFORD turns to face the two men.
Tomorrow we will continue our advance
on Ulundi. Durnford, kindly return
to your unit Bring them here
immediately to support Pulleine. Mr.
Vereker will join you as ADC. Do you
understand me clearly?
And the threat of counter invasion
no longer exists?
Colonel, if on another occasion you
flout my direct orders I shall
reluctantly relieve you of your
DURNFORD exits in silence. CREALOCK walks over to the map.
Perhaps he has thought to conquer
Zululand on his own, My Lord.
CLOSE UP of CHELMSFORD as he nods in silent agreement.
THE CAMP AT ISANDHLWANA. 22ND, JANUARY. 7:00AM
Reveille is heard. CHELMSFORD emerges from his tent with
I trust you to keep me well informed
of Colonel Durnford and his men when
they arrive William.
CHELMSFORD mounts his horse.
Gentlemen, we move to find camp and
engage the enemy, and my nose tells
me that we may make early contact.
CHELMSFORD and his party move out. VEREKER looks on.
PULLEINE is stationary, astride his horse. MELVILL approaches
Mr. Melvill, until the reinforcement
arrives we will Stand To.
(Riding off, he
addresses a Bugler)
You there. Sound "Fall In".
As CHELMSFORD'S COLUMN moves out, the camera pans away up to
the hills to reveal a hidden Zulu Scout.
The rear units are half-a-mile from the camp.
Below, the camp prepares for immediate battle activity
everywhere. Redcoats line up, buckling on their packs and
PULLEINE, MELVILL & COGHILL, all on horseback, are engaged
Huge expanse to keep an eye on.
(Referring to Nqutu
Would you mind riding over to Stuart
Smith and asking him to bring his
Oh, Mr. Melvill, kindly send a
lookout. Tell him to call out the
instant he spies Colonel Durnford's
Column coming to reinforce us.
COGHILL arrives at STUART SMITH's area.
How quickly can you move your
Well, my horses are feeding, as you
may observe, Mr. Coghill. It'll take
a little while.
Well, fed or hungry, Pulleine wants
them in position immediately.
(Addressing one of
Bombardier, to me please.
CLOSE UP of a concerned looking PULLEINE.
Various shots of CHELMSFORD'S COLUMN moving forward.
CLOSE in on CHELMSFORD as he rides to meet NOGGS (NORRIS-
What o'clock is it, Mr. Noggs?
Eleven o'clock, My Lord.
Our friend Colonel Durnford will be,
should be at this minute approaching
Pulleine. I think we'll eat here. I
want to scout that mountain top and
be back with an appetite in one hour.
(He turns his horse
DURNFORD'S ARRIVAL AT ISANDHLWANA. 22ND, JANUARY. 11:00AM
DURNFORD'S COLUMN pounds down the slope into the camp. It is
welcomed with relief, tension everywhere relaxes and smiles
are seen. There is calling and greeting between the forces.
AREA BETWEEN WAGONS.
BAYELE and the OTHER ZULU CAPTIVE held for questioning are
tied up to wagons in an area somewhat screened from the camp.
MBILINI is on the ground, his feet and hands are bound.
TWO SENTRIES guard them. MBILINI lies almost unconscious,
tongue lolling, from the ropes that bind him. Evidence of
the beating he has undergone is extensive.
The TWO REDCOAT SENTRIES run forward to see DURNFORD'S COLUMN
arrive, momentarily leaving the captives.
(To MBILINI with
My brother. We must warn our King. I
will call the white soldier back.
Can you still move to help me?
The TWO SENTRIES turn. One addresses the other:
I'll fix 'im, Serg'.
He starts to walk back to the wagons. BAYELE continues to
Shut that yellin' up, you 'ear me!
(He reaches the wagons)
Did you 'ear me? Shut up!
As he passes MBILINI on the ground, the warrior thrusts his
trussed legs between the SENTRY'S legs. The SENTRY stumbles
to the ground, his head near BAYELE'S feet. He immediately
starts to rise but before he can, BAYELE has lifted his
powerful foreleg waist high in stamping position and brings
it down with a sickening crunch onto the SENTRY'S lower neck.
Now all is desperate speed. Under BAYELE'S directions, MBILINI
stretches to the unconscious SENTRY and manages to take his
bayonet with his bound feet.
INTERCUT WITH SHOTS OF DURNFORD'S ARRIVAL IN CAMP.
Cutting the ropes about his neck, MBILINI succeeds in rising
to his feet, managing to get the bayonet blade to BAYELE'S
Between them the first ropes are cut.
As BAYELE'S hands are freed, the SENTRY on the ground starts
to regain consciousness. Taking the bayonet from MBILINI,
BAYELE thrusts the weapon into the SENTRY'S back killing
him. He removes the bayonet from the SENTRY'S body and also
takes a knife from the redcoat's scabbard which he hands to
MBILINI. Together they free the third Zulu tied to the other
Making their escape, they edge beyond the wagons. Crouching
low, they run up the slope and head for the North.
But all British eyes are to the East or on DURNFORD'S column.
DURNFORD dismounts, takes in the encampment.
Exceedingly pleased to greet you,
Colonel. I see you're 'Standing To.'
Perhaps the men could eat with their
Oh yes, of course. Excellent idea,
good. Oh, Mr. Melvill, order "Stand
Down", will you?
(He turns his horse
DURNFORD follow him)
PULLEINE & DURNFORD walk out of shot as MELVILL is seen in
Sergeant Stand the men down would
8 MILES EAST OF ISANDHLWANA. ROAD TO ULUNDI. 22ND, JANUARY.
CLOSE UP of pencil drawing in progress. The artist is revealed
as being CREALOCK. His composition is of a stationary wagon.
NOGGS observes. Glass of claret in hand, he makes his way
Crealock, old fellah.
(Sitting beside him)
I'm doing notes for my dispatch and
I need to clear up a few military
points. I don't want to bother His
Lordship. Had it drummed into my
thick skull that a good Commander
never willingly splits his forces,
especially in an enemy's country
before knowing their dispositions.
CREALOCK has continued to sketch throughout Noggs' banter.
Ah, Yes, if we were facing a European
enemy armed with guns I think your
point would hold, Noggs. Further,
may I remind you I do not create the
strategies you wish to comment on. I
am only his Lordship's Secretary.
(He gives NOOGS a
With a slight chuckle he leans closer to CREALOCK.
I wouldn't take overly comfort from
that Crealock old fellah because if
he sinks, then you sink with him.
NOGGS departs, as CREALOCK looks up for a moment and then
continues with his drawing.
EXT. PULLEINE'S H.Q. TENT. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
DURNFORD, VEREKER & PULLEINE are seated. They are dining
together. The occasion is incredibly civilised. The table is
laid with a white linen cloth, silver cutlery, condiments
and wine glasses containing claret.
(Toying with the wine
in his glass)
So, you've been asked to look after
Well, I assure you, Sir, I have no
desire to create difficulties.
And I assure you, you do not. In
fact, I'd be obliged for your best
advice. What have your scouts seen?
So far only their scouts. But we
have had reports of a small Impi
farther north, over there.
(He turns to indicate
the area to his left)
His Lordship is of the certain opinion
that it's far too difficult an
approach to be chosen by the Zulu
(Looking to the North)
Yes, well, difficulty never deterred
a Zulu commander.
(Returning his gaze
We don't know.
(After a moment's
I think it would be wise to picket
the hills. Just in case.
VEREKER rises and collecting his hat, exits to carry out
DURNFORD'S instruction. DURNFORD returns to his meal.
EXT. NQUTU PLATEAU DAY MOVING SHOT
DURNFORD rides out alone.
VEREKER, S.M. KAMBULA, OFFICERS and a troop of SIKALI horse
ride out of camp into the foreground.
CAMERA PANS the vast African countryside. VEREKER'S column
is seen in the distance. CAMERA stops to reveal a ZULU SCOUT
in the foreground. He is hidden by a tree. On spying the
soldiers, he turns to two young ZULU BOYS behind him. He
shouts instructions that they draw attention to themselves
by moving their herd of cattle.
DURNFORD, now with KAMBULA, reaches the top of a rise. He
stops and KAMBULA hands him a pair of binoculars. Surveying
the land he spots VEREKER'S column. Handing the binoculars
back to KAMBULA, he spurs his horse onward.
VEREKER'S COLUMN come over a rise to see the cattle being
urged to the lip of the plateau.
(Pointing to the cattle)
There's steak on the hoof, Sir.
(Pausing for a moment)
Kicking their horses and whooping, the soldiers give chase.
The ZULUS try to flee but in vain. One soldier, TROOPER JAMES,
aims his rifle at one of the ZULUS and fires. VEREKER, hearing
the shot, rides towards TROOPER JAMES, but stops when he
gets to the ZULU BOY who is lying motionless on the ground.
Dismounting, VEREKER goes over to the body and looks down at
the dead boy with compassion.
TROOPER JAMES spurs to the lip, exultant, keen to kill. He
reins his horse abruptly. Holding it still, he stares at the
valley before him. Suddenly all energy leaves his body. He
stares in disbelief. LT. RAW is beside him.
(Calling, his voice
Mr. Vereker! Mr. Vereker! Come and
look at this, Sir!
(Riding into shot he
You've just managed to bring down a
boy of twelve.
JAMES does not respond. He stares straight ahead. Following
his gaze, VEREKER spots what James has found before him.
EXT. WATERHOLE. VALLEY NEAR ISANDHLWANA. DAY
The valley they overlook is filled with Zulus, Cetshwayo's
main Impi. Close-packed, sitting in silence, covering the
whole of the valley floor and perching on every inch of its
rising sides, are twenty thousand warriors.
They have found the long sought main IMPI.
My God, we've found them.
EXT. NQUTUPLATEAU. DAY
VEREKER, RAW & JAMES stare down at the Zulu Impis.
EXT. VALLEY NEAR ISANDHLWANA. DAY
The Zulus look up. BAYELE, who stands apart, looks first at
his warriors, then up to the English. He shouts the order to
advance. Chanting, the Zulus rise and start to clamber up
towards the plateau.
EXT. NQUTU PLATEAU. DAY
(Still stunned, he
Warn the camp. Tell Chelmsford. Inform
His Lordship we've found what he's
(Turning his horse
VEREKER orders his troop to line up facing the Zulu.
The mass of Zulus have started to cover the North strip of
More and more Zulus mount the crest coming into formation.
The troopers are amazed at the sheer weight of enemy number.
VEREKER'S troop fire volleys steadily, the Zulus now six
hundred yards away. Some Zulus fall but the mass, getting
into disciplined ranks, advance implacably towards them.
VEREKER gives the order to retreat.
VEREKER'S troop retreat as the ZULU follow.
INT. PULLEINE'S H.Q. TENT. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
PULLEINE is seated at his desk. He is writing a letter. He
looks up as he hears distant gunfire.
EXT. PULLEINE'S CAMP. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
BLOOMFIELD walks through the kitchen area. He stops and looks
to the hills as he too hears gunfire.
INT. TENT. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
BOY-PULLEN, STOREY and another are having a game of cards.
BOY-PULLEN looks up, alert. He too has heard something. STOREY
Oy! Goon. What're doin'?
BOY-PULLEN dismisses his concern and continues with the game.
INT. MELVILL'S TENT. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
MELVILL is seated, relaxed, his feet up on his desk. He is
drinking from a tankard. Another officer lies reclined,
smoking. On hearing gunshots, MELVILL jumps up, running
outside the tent.
Don't tell me the Zulu managed to
get up there after all.
EXT. CAMP. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
LT. RAW rides into shot.
MOVING SHOT. CAMERA follows RAW as he rides up to PULLEINE'S
tent and dismounts.
PULLEINE emerges from his tent.
I've sent to Lord Chelmsford.
Bugler. Sound "The Alert".
BUGLER runs into foreground. CLOSE UP as he sounds "The
PTE. WILLIAMS is feeding the horses. On hearing the "The
Alert" he jumps to attention running out of shot. After a
beat he returns to collect his helmet which is positioned on
top of one of posts.
BOY-PULLEN & STOREY emerge from their tent. There are troops
Fall in! At the double!
Heavy artillery moves into and out of shot.
PULLEINE & MELVILL, both on horseback, watch the proceedings.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
SGT. WILLIAMS is rallying a Company of Redcoats.
Wheel 'em in! Wheel 'em in! Wheel
'em in! Come on now. Tighten those
COGHILL, on horseback surveys the ranks from the rear.
A young BOY-SOLDIER walks in front of the redcoats. He carries
an armful of markers. With him is STOREY.
Private Storey. Get those markers
pegged out at the double.
One every 'undred yards
(To Boy Soldier)
Come on boy, scamper.
...and Bugler, make sure he pegs 'em
in a straight line -- towards the
RUSSELL & his men with a group of Natal natives run forward
to position the rockets.
teeth as he works)
Hold them please God, three minutes.
Please hold them!
Come on, come on, come on. Come on
STOREY is pacing out the markers on the battlefield. The BOY
SOLDIER follows him.
Ninety two, ninety three, ninety
four, ninety five, ninety six, ninety
seven, nighty eight, ninety nine...
(Coming to a standstill)
What's next, boy?
BOY SOLDIER stands motionless. He stares towards the horizon.
Oy. You useless little bastard. Come
(Pointing behind Storey)
STOREY turns to look.
Vast masses of Zulus appear over the horizon. They are
chanting, menacing like a fast approaching swarm of bees.
Closer shots of the Zulus as they approach. Their assegais
poised high above their heads at the ready.
CAMERA PANS to the tiny white tents of the camp in the
distance. The small Company of Redcoats is seen before them
and for the first time it is obvious just how outnumbered
EXT. ZULULAND EAST OF ISANDHLWANA. DAY
CHELMSFORD & CREALOCK admire the pleasant surroundings. They
walk towards a canopied dining area. Servants have prepared
a magnificent table. Silver dishes, polished beautifully and
gleaming in the hot sun, are carried from a small field
kitchen behind a screen.
Splendid site, Crealock, splendid. I
want to establish Camp here
Standing around the table are several officers including
HAMILTON-BROWN, HARFORD & MILNE. NOGGS is also present. As
CHELMSFORD sits, so do the others.
HAMILTON-BROWN stands apart, drinking uneasily.
After lunch, Brown, I want you to
return to Isandhlwana and instruct
Colonel Pulleine to join us here
(Downing the contents
of his glass)
If you'll excuse me, My Lord.
No appetite, Colonel?
(He indicates to a
nearby servant to
refill his glass)
My men haven't eaten since yesterday
and there won't be any supplies until
I get them back to Isandhlwana.
Well they can start off now and you
can join them when you've eaten.
Kind of you, My Lord. But I don't
think it would be proper for me to
sit at your table while they're with
their bellies stuck to their
(Rising to leave)
Excuse me, Sir.
Learn nothing from that Irishman,
Yes, Sir. Except, how not to...
General ad. lib. Smug laughter, banging of cutlery on table
and cries of "Here, here".
Solitary SIKALI HORSEMAN approaches Chelmsford's camp.
RETURN to dining table. The meal is now over. CHELMSFORD
cuts the end off a cigar with a silver cigar-cutter. NOGGS
is peeling an apple with a silver fruit knife.
CREALOCK walks into shot. He speaks in CHELMSFORD'S ear.
A strange message from Vereker, My
Lord. It would seem Pulleine has a
battle on his hands. No details. No
CREALOCK resumes his place at table as CHELMSFORD turns to
Mr. Milne. Kindly take your telescope
to a high point. Note the events at
CHELMSFORD also rises and leaves the table.
CLOSE-UP of CREALOCK, then NOGGS. They both share a sense of
CHELMSFORD walks slowly and deliberately towards an empty
wagon. He goes to the front and leaning against the front
panel, lowers his head. He wants to be alone.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
SHOTS OF THE ZULU ARMY. They stand, chanting, beating their
weapons against their shields, ready to attack.
CAMERA PANS BACK to reveal the vast enormity of the ZULU
army in comparison to the small Company of Redcoats.
VARIOUS CLOSE-UPS of kneeling Redcoats, poised, rifles at
the ready. Their faces reveal the terror of the reality before
There is a uniform, disciplined, victorious shout from the
Only three hundred yards away, the Zulu Impi advance, vastly
outnumbering their enemy ahead.
CLOSE-UP OF PTE. WILLIAMS. Extremely nervous, he looks to
SGT. WILLIAMS for reassurance.
SGT. WILLIAMS removes a ceremonial sash from his inside pocket
and places it defiantly over his tunic. He winks at PTE.
WILLIAMS who returns to face the Zulu with renewed confidence.
DURNFORD leads his column onto the battlefield. Dismounting,
the Company takes up it's positions and commences to fire a
(Still on horseback)
Steady men. Steady. Steady now.
(Addressing one of
Ride to Lord Chelmsford. Ride toward
Ulundi. Tell him the battle he longs
for has started and he needs to move
here quickly. Quickly.
CAVAYE'S AND MOSTYN'S COMPANIES
The last echo of the "Stand To" is heard. RUSSELL'S men fire
a rocket and then another. They sail erratically over the
heads of the ZULU IMPI. The third, however, finds it's target
and strikes at the centre of the advancing warriors.
STOREY and BOY SOLDIER run forward hurriedly trying to
position their markers.
All right, this'll do.
(Stopping, he hands
BOY SOLDIER his rifle)
Here, grab that.
The Zulus are now uncomfortably close. BOY SOLDIER stands
(Realizing the close
proximity of the
Oh, bugger that.
He throws the markers to the ground and seizing BOY SOLDIER'S
hand runs back towards their own lines.
Still fifty yards away, STOREY & BOY SOLDIER drop to the
ground as their own Companies fire a series of volleys in
As the Zulus begin to drop, STOREY & BOY SOLDIER seize the
opportunity and return to their feet, again running forward.
As another volley is fired, STOREY & BOY SOLDIER again drop
to the ground.
Somebody's not watching our bloody
(Getting to his feet)
Come on, Sunshine.
STOREY attempts to help BOY SOLDIER to his feet. The boy's
body is limp, sprawled and bleeding. He has been shot in the
Come all this bloody way to get shot
by a bullet from Birmingham.
(Shouting to his own
Shoot straight, you bastards!
STOREY takes the boy's hat and runs quickly forward as the
ZULUS advance over the inert body.
The ZULU LEFT HORN is close at hand. RUSSELL works with his
Bombardier and artillery men to set up the rockets, but they
are losing the race with time.
Fire one. Fire two.
RUSSELL, recognising the uselessness of his rockets at this
point of the battle, draws his sword. He orders his bombardier
and small troop of artillerymen to line up and face the Zulu.
RUSSELL fights bravely, as do his troop. It is a few dozen
men against hundreds. They are inundated by the ZULU tide,
which is not checked. Several ZULU fall, but RUSSELL and his
troop are simply overcome and vanish as the LEFT HORN
continues on its way hence, threatening to cut Durnford's
column off from the camp.
PULLEINE, on horseback, spots the onslaught through his
binoculars from the camp. VEREKER rides to meet him.
Reinforcement only. And ride to Stuart
Smith. Let his guns cover Durnford
for a fall back.
Sikali, follow me.
VEREKER and his SIKALI troop leave the camp. PULLEINE watches
before returning to his binoculars.
STUART SMITH commands the aiming and firing of his seven and
twelve pounders. VEREKER rides up from the background.
You give me some covering fire for
Durnford on the right flank.
Sir. Whole section RIGHT!
One of the big guns is brought about to fire at the line to
the south which attacks DURNFORD.
CLOSE ON DURNFORD. He watches in appreciation as the big
shells start to land amongst his attackers causing havoc.
hopelessness of the
The companies wheel about to race back to the relative
security of a nearby donga.
There is sudden turmoil as a group of ZULUS hurtle over the
lower edge of the donga. A fierce hand-to-hand, assegai
against bayonet battle ensues as warrior after warrior rises
from cover to come over the edge.
DURNFORD rides to make sure that firing against the rear
line of ZULUS is maintained to prevent it too from coming
forward, to secure the temporary breech.
SOLDIERS of CAVAYE'S COMPANY have withdrawn to the camp
periphery and now fire in line with MOSTYN'S COMPANY, volley
after steady volley.
COGHILL and MELVILL shout orders to the ranks.
Choose your targets men. That's right.
Watch those markers.
Keep steady. You're the best shots
of the Twenty-Fourth. You bunch of
heathens, do it
CAVAYE'S COMPANY LINES
SGT. WILLIAMS walks calmly behind the front line.
Present, Arms. Watch yer markers.
Watch yer markers. Adjust yer sights.
STOREY fires in the line. He searches through his pouches
I'm running out of bleedin'
(Calling over his
More ammunition. Scamper!
I've bin twice already.
You can go three times. It won't do
you any 'arm. Go on! Run both ways.
The BUGLER runs towards the ammunition wagon, two hundred
yards to the rear. The line fire in volley, working the levers
of their breech-loaders.
(Steadying his horse
along the line)
(To the soldier next
Soft 'eaded buggers these.
(Referring to the
Flatten out against the bone. Smash
But bullets run out... and those
bloody spears don't.
BLOOMFIELD is labouring to open another tightly bound and
screwed down ammunition box while BUGLERS wait in a queue,
BLOOMFIELD has to stand over the box and exert great pressure
on the screwdriver to force the oxidised screws out of their
BOY-PULLEN stands at the front of the queue. He is handing
out one box of ammunition at a time to each soldier.
A NATAL NATIVE reaches the head of the queue. As BOY-PULLEN
goes to hand him some ammunition, BLOOMFIELD looks up and
Pullen! You will not issue ammunition
from this wagon to any but authorised
Companies. This lot can have their
(He snatches the box
back from the NATAL
The NATAL NATIVE doesn't understand English but he understands
what BLOOMFIELD means. He voices his objection in Zulu.
Get to your own wagon.
The BUGLER sent by STOREY is waiting impatiently.
(Running to the front
of the queue)
'ow long we gotta wait, Quartermaster?
Get back in line, boy. Wait your
BLOOMFIELD returns to prizing open the boxes. BUGLER goes to
return to the end of the queue but turns back to plead with
Look it ain't my fault. All the tops
are screwed down.
REDCOAT AT FRONT OF QUEUE
Come on. I'm waiting.
BOY-PULLEN gives the REDCOAT one box and then hurriedly hands
the other to STOREY'S BUGLER.
STOREY is beginning to panic. The ammunition situation is
now becoming desperate.
Hurry up with that bloody ammo.
Increasing numbers are not firing. They glance back with
impatience towards the ammunition wagons, spaced five hundred
yards apart, where queues of BUGLERS and REDCOATS wait for
rounds that are distributed too slowly.
EXT. ZULULAND. EAST OF ISANDHLWANA. DAY
CHELMSFORD and his COLUMN move slowly and steadily from their
Camp towards the West. MILNE approaches on horseback to meet
My Lord, I watched the camp for twenty
minutes. The haze obscures much. The
tents have not been stuck. The only
thing I could distinguish is the
wagons have been moved on mass into
Thank you Mr. Milne. Inform Colonel
Crealock, would you?
CAMERA PANS away from CHELMSFORD'S COLUMN as we see an
OFFICER'S POV through binoculars. Angle changes as we see a
rider enter the camp and approach LT. HARFORD.
CREALOCK steps into a wagon. He turns to address MILNE who
Thank you, Milne.
HARFORD approaches urgently. He remains on horseback and
talks to CREALOCK through the open side of the wagon.
(Out of breath,
The camp is under attack from a large
force of Zulu. Colonel Pulleine sends
Calm yourself Mr. Harford. Where do
you come by this intelligence?
Durnford's Cavaye himself rode from
Very well, go on.
Colonel Harness has already turned
with the artillery.
(The severity begins
They have? I see. Ride after Lord
Chelmsford and acquaint him with
HARFORD has started but turns his horse about as CREALOCK
Mr. Harford... control your passions.
A professional soldier must keep
cool and thoughtful in times of
HARFORD looks as if he is going to explode but controls his
feelings and rides after CHELMSFORD.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
VEREKER gallops hard as do his troop of BASUTO HORSEMEN.
CAMERA TRACKS FORWARD, following them to the donga which
DURNFORD'S COMPANIES are defending. Horses are in the donga.
The troops are firing from the outer lip of the donga.
VEREKER'S MEN provide the much needed backup.
Good work, Mr. Vereker.
DURNFORD spurs his horse forward. The situation is still
(Shouting to his troops)
Prepare to fall back.
Line after line of ZULUS run forward to join the assault.
Move the horses!
CLOSE ON DURNFORD. He signals the next tactic as he rides
across the donga. Commands are issued down the line. The men
now disengage and run in the opposite direction from the
ZULUS, leaping into the donga to find their horses and
swinging onto saddles to scramble up the far side, galloping
400 yards close to the camp to form a new defence line.
"The Retreat" is sounded. There is hand-to-hand, bayonets,
spears, hunting knives and ZULUS trying to assegai the horses.
A handful of REDCOATS await the ZULU as they clamber over
the ridge. Realization of the vast Zulu numbers suddenly
dawns as their NCO shouts in desperation:
Take the high ground!
The REDCOATS are completely overwhelmed and are soon lost
amidst the ZULU onslaught.
DURNFORD'S COMPANIES ride into camp. There are wounded lying
Speed up the ammunition flow, Vereker.
I'll try to hold the road to Rorke's
Like a huge tidal wave, the ZULUS plough their way through
the lines of REDCOATS defending the outer perimeter of the
Sergeant, come with me.
DURNFORD and S.M. KAMBULA depart as ZULU mercilessly stab at
the wounded already on the ground.
SGT. WILLIAMS' MEN are under serious attack.
The ZULUS are among the NATAL NATIVES, stabbing, stabbing,
The ZULU LOIN is sitting some three hundred yards from the
battle, facing away from it. The ZULU LOIN, two IMPIS of
seasoned warriors, start to run towards the gap through which
the NATAL NATIVES, ZULUS and SMITH'S GUNS are streaming.
Both lines of REDCOATS are attacked from the back, and the
lines try to fight enemy in front and behind.
Fire. Fire. Close ranks. Retreat!
SGT. WILLIAMS, pistol in hand, sees the danger to the guns.
Save those guns.
SGT. WILLIAMS grabs a passing ZULU by the throat. He throws
him to the ground and beats him to death. Reaching the top
of a ridge, he bayonets a ZULU scrambling up the ridge towards
him. Withdrawing the blade, he turns just in time to bayonet
another ZULU attacking from the rear.
(Shouting & looking
(From just below the
Come 'ere. Get yourself up 'ere.
(He grabs PTE.
pulling him up onto
the higher ground)
Sir... Ah!... Ah!
Come on. Getup!
SMITH'S GUNS are driven away.
(Helping PTE. WILLIAMS
to his feet)
You'll get a medal yet, Private
At this point SGT. WILLIAMS falls to his knees. He has been
assegaied in the back. PTE. WILLIAMS thrusts his bayonet
over SGT. WILLIAMS head, killing the offending ZULU. He turns
and bayonets another running towards him.
Behind you, lad! Ah no...
(He is struck again)
But it is too late. A single assegai penetrates PTE. WILLIAMS'
Both Sergeant and Private die together.
CLOSE IN on BAYELE as he leads the ZULUS onward.
CAMERA FOLLOWS THREE SIKALI HORSEMEN as they gallop towards
BLOOMFIELD'S ammunition wagon. Another GROUP OF REDCOATS
surrounds the wagon. BLOOMFIELD and BOY-PULLEN serve them
with ammunition which is fired with discipline at a rapid
Wait your bloody turn. Wait your
bloody turn and get in line.
(Handing a box to a
There you are, boy.
LONG SHOT of the ZULUS streaming across the plain.
Many of the REDCOATS have turned and are running for their
lives. The battleground is awash with red tunics. As the
CAMERA passes over the dead, one body suddenly leaps to his
feet. It is PTE. STOREY. He has been playing 'dead'. Running,
he makes for cover beneath a wagon. He searches beyond the
mass of ZULUS for a target. He sees the distant INDUNAS, he
aims carefully and fires.
STOREY, satisfied with the result, now kneels to the corpse
of a fallen man beside him. He finds LT. CAVAYE dead. He
bends to search him for ammunition. STOREY finds one
cartridge, spitting on it for luck, he loads, aims and fires.
A huge line of ZULUS run forward and engulf him.
CLOSE UP of STOREY'S torso beneath the wagon. An assegai
protrudes from his chest.
SWEEPING SHOT. The ZULU LOIN is streaming into the camp
through the gaps in the north and north-east corner. The end
VEREKER and a trooper gallop towards BLOOMFIELD'S AMMUNITION
Over here. Quickly.
BLOOMFIELD hands VEREKER a whole case of ammunition which he
passes to the TROOPER beside him.
VEREKER & TROOPER approach DURNFORD'S LINES with the
Well done, Vereker. Now goodbye,
The pair exchange glances.
After a beat, VEREKER turns his horse about and rides away.
The Sergeant takes DURNFORD'S HORSE by the bit as DURNFORD
CLOSE UP of the ammunition case as the men frantically try
to open it with their bayonets and rifle butts.
CLOSE UP of DURNFORD. He is firing his pistol.
CAMERA finds ELDER BOER in crowd as he is assegaied in the
The fighting is hand-to-hand, with a few REDCOATS having
rounds which they fire with discipline under the command of
COGHILL and MELVILL command the squad of REDCOATS who form
an approximate ring around PULLEINE'S tent. Some wagons have
been pulled forward to form a partial barricade. PULLEINE
stands in the centre.
A BUGLER BOY holding the Regimental Colours is close by.
COGHILL & MELVILL ride up to PULLEINE.
Well fought, Gentlemen. It's time to
save the Colours. Get to Rorke's
Drift. You must warn them.
(To BUGLER BOY)
PULLEINE takes the Colours from the BUGLER BOY and hands
them to MELVILL.
Carry them to safety Mr. Melvill.
COGHILL and MELVILL take the Colours, spur through the ZULUS
and head to the gullies and ravines that lead to the river.
PULLEINE watches, moves back into his tent.
CLOSE UP of DURNFORD. He looks over his shoulder and then
back to the ZULU before him. He makes a decision and moves
away from the front line.
(To S.M. KAMBULA)
Sergeant! Sergeant! Take my horse.
Up you go.
S.M. KAMBULA is helped up into the saddle.
Sergeant, you're to ride back to
Natal. When you see the Bishop tell
(He pauses momentarily)
that is, tell his daughter, I was
obliged to remain here with my
infantry. Now go. God go with you.
I leave God Jesus with you.
He leaves as CAMERA closes in on DURNFORD'S face.
SMITH'S guns, at full gallop, sweep through the camp.
VARIOUS SHOTS of the battle. The battlefield is covered with
dead ZULU and REDCOAT bodies.
BLOOMFIELD'S AMMUNITION WAGON.
Some of the ZULUS have picked up burning brands from the
cooking fires and are setting the wagons on fire.
BLOOMFIELD & BOY-PULLEN jump down from their wagon, taking
some cases of ammunition with them.
They are only ten yards away when there is a massive
explosion. The wagon has burst into flames and the ammunition
continues to explode.
CLOSE UP of BLOOMFIELD. He is lying face down on the ground
in a state of shock. He slowly turns his head and we see the
bloody corpse of BOY-PULLEN. BLOOMFIELD'S face grimaces as
he is stabbed in the back by an unseen assailant. His face
falls into the dirt.
INT. PULLEINE'S H.Q. TENT. DAY
PULLEINE is sitting inside his tent. He is writing a letter
to his wife. There is a pistol on the table.
BAYELE enters the tent. PULLEINE immediately picks up his
pistol and aims at BAYELE. There is a moment's hesitation
PULLEINE drops his pistol to one side inviting BAYELE to
kill him. BAYELE seizes the moment and with one forward fatal
thrust, stabs PULLEINE in the heart.
PULLEINE slumps onto the desk as BAYELE leaves without
LONG PAN SHOT of MELVILL & COGHILL as they take the Colours
out of the camp.
VEREKER is nearby as a ZULU leaps out, bringing MELVILL and
his horse to the ground.
VEREKER shoots the ZULU.
MELVILL gets up, hands the Colours to COGHILL and gets back
up onto his horse.
(To COGHILL, indicating
Give them to me.
(COGHILL does so)
Come on. Come on!
They spur onward, COGHILL using his pistol as they do so.
MOVING SHOT. A gun carriage charges over the slope. As it
does so, the rear gunner is shot and the gun itself becomes
disengaged from the rest of the carriage tumbling down the
GUN CARRIAGE IN FOREGROUND. VEREKER, COGHILL & MELVILL ride
over this obstacle (SLOW MOTION) the Colours aloft.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD. ISANDHLWANA. DAY
HIGH VIEW. DURNFORD'S South-East defence position. ZOOM
forward to show the first refugees behind from the camp
breaking out on the South, crossing into the ravine; their
line of exit the same as the guns, defended by DURNFORD'S
CLOSE UP of DURNFORD. He loads his pistol and turning full
circle, realizes that he and his troops are surrounded.
Jumping up onto an ammunition wagon, he starts to target the
approaching ZULUS, now only ten yards away. He uses all six
shots, throws his pistol to one side and picks up a discarded
assegai from the wagon. As he frantically tries to batter a
ZULU warrior, another ZULU aims a rifle straight at him.
There is a single shot. DURNFORD, clasping the shoulder of
his disabled left arm, falls off the ammuntion wagon and
tumbles down the ravine, landing at the bottom with a painful
thud. Out of breath, he struggles to sit upright, his back
against the muddy bank of the ravine.
A ZULU appears at the top of the ravine. Standing on top of
the ammunition wagon, he throws his assegai down at the body
below. It finds it's target, piercing DURNFORD in the chest.
Short of breath, he makes a vain attempt at removing the
weapon but his efforts are futile. He draws his last breath
EXT. FUGITIVE'S RAVINE. DAY
COGHILL, MELVILL & VEREKER desperately fighting to control
their horses scrambling down the hazardous rocky terrain --
quarry to the pursuing relentless ZULUS behind them. REDCOATS
on foot are overtaken and dispatched with stabbing assegais.
EXT. RIVER BANK OPPOSITE RORKE'S DRIFT
COGHILL, MELVILL & VEREKER urge their horses onward, galloping
into the river.
Several ZULUS remain on the bank, shooting rifles and throwing
assegais into the water.
One ZULU jumps into the water and attempts to swim after
VEREKER is the first to reach the opposite bank. The other
two have become separated from their horses. VEREKER'S is
close by. Scrambling up the bank, VEREKER turns to COGHILL &
MELVILL who are still in the water.
For God's sake, hold them back! I'll
get the horses.
COGHILL is the next to reach the bank. He turns back to
MELVILL who is struggling in the water with the Colours.
It's alright It's alright.
He helps MELVILL up onto the bank as VEREKER mounts his horse.
VEREKER rides off in pursuit of the other two horses.
There is a single rifle shot, which brings VEREKER'S horse
to the ground. In the background we see a vast number of
ZULUS engulf COGHILL & MELVILL. MELVILL attempts to fight
with his sword but he is overwhelmed. There is an awful
piercing scream and the two men disappear.
INTERCUT BETWEEN VEREKER & GROUP OF ZULUS.
VEREKER lies on the ground, his left leg trapped beneath the
body of his horse. He sees the ZULUS take up the Colours as
they run up to the high ground, revealing COGHILL & MELVILL'S
dead bodies in the FOREGROUND.
VEREKER is breathing uneasily. He watches with amazement as
the ZULUS hold the Colours aloft mockingly. Some ZULUS are
wearing their purloined Redcoat uniforms, they whoop and
VEREKER takes his time. He aims his rifle at the ZULU carrying
The shot kills the ZULU and the Colours fall (SLOW MOTION)
down, down into the river.
Relieved, VEREKER'S head falls to the sandy bank.
The Colours float into CLOSE UP.
EXT. PULLEINE'S CAMP. ISANDHLWANA. DUSK
CHELMSFORD and his ESCORT ride into the camp. The air is
full of smoke and the crackling of fire can still be heard.
A dead soldier who has been tied to a post and disembowelled
is CENTRE SCREEN.
The wind begins to howl as CAMERA follows CHELMSFORD into
the centre of the camp. He dismounts. Very slowly he removes
CLOSE UP of HARFORD. A solitary tear trickles down his cheek
as he surveys the area with disbelief.
Stationary, CHELMSFORD looks around him. Then very slowly
and deliberately he walks forward towards the CAMERA.
CAMERA PANS to reveal CREALOCK, still on horseback, in the
background. He rides into focus.
Excuse me, My Lord, there's something
I must convey to you. I rode a little
way along the track to Rorke's Drift.
The sky above is red with fire.
Your Orders, My Lord? Do we move to
CHELMSFORD does not answer. He continues to walk forward,
TIGHT CLOSE UP. CHELMSFORD lowers his head, his eyes still
CROSS FADE to blood red sunset. Script is superimposed:
The Battle of Isandhlwana was recorded in history as the
worst defeat ever inflicted on a modern army by native troops.
In Parliament, upon the downfall of his government, British
Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, asked the question:
"Who are these Zulus, who are these remarkable people who
defeat our generals, convert our bishops and who on this day
have put an end to a great dynasty?"
ZULU singing and chanting crescendos.
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