Film storyboards for ‘Zulu’ discovered 22 Jan 2010Stephen Coan
A PREVIOUSLY unknown
storyboard for a sequence from the film Zulu has come to light and a poster version
is available on a newly created website.
Zulu was shot on location in the Royal Natal
National Park in the Drakensberg in 1963. The film was a recreation of the defence
of the mission station at Rorke’s Drift that took place on January 22-23, 1879, where,
following the overwhelming Zulu victory at Isandlwana, a small number of British
troops held out against a superior Zulu force. More Victoria Crosses, the highest
British award for bravery, were awarded to a single regiment for this action — 11
in all — than for any other in British military history.
The film starred Stanley Baker, Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins and featured MangoSuthu
Buthelezi as King Cetshwayo kaMpande. Directed by Cy Endfield, Zulu went on to become
a highly popular and successful film, while frequent airings on British television
have seeded interest in the war down the generations — something that has greatly
benefited the tourism industry in this part of the world.
For the film, the Rorke’s Drift mission station was constructed on the banks of the
Thukela River close to where the entrance to the Tendele camp is today. Although
a long way from the site of the actual battle, the Amphitheatre provided a spectacular
The Natal Parks Board (now KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife) was paid R1 500 for the use of
the location and an undertaking was made by the film-makers that after the filming
was complete everything would be removed. Shooting began at the end of March and
ran through to the end of June.
The Zulu storyboard that has come to light was created for the sequence when Zulu
warriors attack the roof of the hospital and Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (played
by Caine) leads a counterattack.
Storyboards consist of small drawings depicting individual shots in a sequence. They
assist the director and crew in setting up and filming the shots, and can vary from
crude sketches to accomplished works of art.
The discovery of these Zulu storyboard sketches is quite a find. Their existence
was unknown even to Sheldon Hall, author of the authoritative book on the making
of the film, Some Guts with a Bayonet Behind It. “I had always assumed that no storyboards
— other than production design sketches — had been created for the film, but the
recent discovery of these drawings close to the location site proves me wrong,” says
“They relate to one sequence only — the fighting on the hospital roof — and appear
to be authentic. I would guess they were done by the art director, Ernest Archer,
or possibly Cy Endfield.”
A poster version of the storyboard is offered for sale on www.zulufilmstore. com,
a new website devoted to the sale of Zulu memorabilia created by Henry Coleman.
The site offers a small selection of original merchandise from Zulu for sale, as
well as the specially created poster which reproduces the storyboard sketches. “They
consist of 30 individual panels, all about postcard size or less, and have been hand
drawn in pen and watercolours,” says Coleman
“They were discovered by my brother on his travels around South Africa last year.
He found and purchased them privately in [kwaZulu-] Natal and presented them to me
last year on a trip to the UK, knowing my love of the film.”
“The originals are now in my personal Zulu film memorabilia collection, but they
are too interesting not to let others have a copy, hence the reason I created the
unique storyboard poster available on my website.”