STANDING ON GUARD

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Shaka Zulu

Release Year:         1986
Studio:         A&E
Format:         Box set; Original recording  remastered; Colour; NTSC; 4:3
Rated:         Not Rated; Contains violence, nudity, disturbing images
# of Discs/Episodes:         4 / 10
Running Time:         8 hrs, 40 minutes + extras
DVD Release Date:         December 4, 2012
Creators:         William Faure
Screenwriters:         Joshua Sinclair
Directors:         William Faure
Actors:         Henry Cele, Edward Fox, Robert Powell, Trevor Howard
DVD Features:         Interview with Director and Stars, French language track
E:Top Picks Rating:         9 / 10

A&E write-up:
He was an illegitimate prince who reclaimed his birthright with brilliance and brutality. He created a vast new nation from warring tribes and forged an army that defied the most powerful empire on earth. He was Shaka Zulu.

Brought to life in an epic, 10 part production, the story of the legendary, 19th-Century African king became one of the most compelling and controversial miniseries in television history. From his boyhood in exile to the bloody struggles that solidified his rule and his proud defiance of British colonists, SHAKA ZULU is the unforgettable tale of a man who stood at the heart of a battle between two worlds.

Filmed entirely on location in South Africa, SHAKA ZULU stars Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars Episode II), Edward Fox (The Dresser, Gandhi) and Henry Cele as Shaka. Now, featuring a meticulous frame-by-frame restoration, SHAKA ZULU looks better than it ever has before.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
There are a number of extraordinary facts about this miniseries that jusitfy the claims of “compelling” and “controversial” made in the product description noted above. Arguably the most prominent fact is that SHAKA ZULU was produced when the country of South Africa was still firmly in the grip of the abhorrent system of racial segregation known as Apartheid.

For anyone who has forgotten what this politically-enforced system meant, stories like SHAKA ZULU–where the central character is a black man who is seen to be a brave and intelligent (albeit flawed) ruler–simply were not tolerated. The official (read white-enforced) view of Shaka as taught in South African schools at the time was that he was nothing but a tyrant, crazed and bloodthirsty, whose assassination was justified.

SHAKA ZULU is an eloquent, epic and extraordinary depiction of Shaka’s life as written by American writer Joshua Sinclair and realised by white South African filmmaker William C. Faure. The story of how SHAKA ZULU came to be made is only touched upon in the relatively brief interview with Faure that is included in this set. Without doubt, a documentary could be made recounting not only the circumstances under how the production came to be, but also exploring the lives of some of the key personnel, especially Faure and star Henry Cele. Faure died in 1994 and Cele in 2007. It’s unfortunate they are not around to talk about what was clearly the most significant artistic endeavour of their respective careers.

However, let’s be thankful for what we do have – this outstanding miniseries, remastered and available on DVD for your home-viewing pleasure.

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