Epic but historically one-sided
I found a tape of this movie at an Afrikaans-speaking museum on the battlefield of Blood River/Ncome - which rather sums up its niche. It was made during the apartheid era and concentrates on one of the cornerstones of Afrikaner historical ideology - the death of the Voortrekker leader Piet Retief at the hands of the Zulu king Dingane in 1838. Like all David Millin's films, it is quite slowly paced for modern tastes, but follows historical events quite well. It is, however, one sided with Piet Retief portrayed as a (admitedly rather rash) hero and the Zulu king Dingane as the villain. It is the sort of film in which Dingane laughs heartily as he consigns the Boers to their deaths - which is unhistorical in a number of respects (not least because the real Dingane was very self-conscious about his teeth and didn't laugh in public!). But, let's be fair, it was made for an Afrikaans-speaking audience and delivers the story as they would expect. The locations are great, there are excellent shots of Zulus running through the bush, and two quite exciting battles (the attack on the Boer camps at Blaukranz and the battle of eThaleni, when Piet Uys Snr was killed). The Afrikaans language throughout will limit the international audience, but it is still essential viewing for buffs of SA history.
- Jul 13, 2006
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