Sunday, 31 January 2016

ZULU: "Because we're ere lad!"

A very special Friday 'date-night' with Mrs M the other night as we saw ZULU on the big screen for the first time in 40-odd years! This is thanks to a special Classic Movie Film showing at the delightful Plaza Super Cinema in nearby Stockport.

As friends and readers of this blog will no doubt be fully aware, ZULU is of course my all-time favourite movie and merits a mention here on a regular basis, for example here and here! So, coming a week after the 137th anniversary of the real events at Rorke's Drift this was something really quite special and I'm pleased to say that the Plaza put on a great show.

The wonderful night exterior of Stockport's Plaza cinema

It's a lovely 1930's art deco cinema which was refurbished a few years ago and one that we have had the pleasure of visiting several times before but I was of course particularly excited about the prospect of seeing ZULU again.

In fact The Plaza couldn't be a more fitting venue as dating from the 1930's it's a contemporary of my Stonehaven hometown cinema where I originally saw ZULU at one of it's Saturday matinees probably in the early 1970's when I was only a wee nipper. I saw many movies during that period, Escape From Planet Of The Apes, King Kong, Doctor Zhivago, Waterloo etc but none made the vivid impression on me that ZULU did and that fascination has now lasted my lifetime and fuelled interest in that rich period of history and all things African through books, travel and of course comics!

Stonehaven's former cinema, thanks to the wonders of the internet!
Stonehaven's Big Screen!

I'm pleased to say that neither the movie or The Plaza disappointed, the evening's entertainments started with the wonderful organ playing on the cinema's stage which when completed, disappeared into the 'orchestra pit' below!

The Plaza's famous organ!

...and The Plaza's grand screen!

Then much to our delight and surprise we had a Bugs Bunny cartoon followed by a short Pathe Pictorial documentary feature just like the used to in the old days! Obviously some thought had gone into this as the Pathe feature was none other than a wee African Safari travelogue in 1960's Zululand itself, setting the scene perfectly! 

Then after a short intermission - again just like the old days but I don't recall having a bar in Stonehaven! - the main event began and as soon as Richard Burton's evocative voice over began, followed by those vivid images of the defeated British redcoats at iSandlwana and John Barry's magnificent title score I was transfixed and once again just a wee nipper enthralled by the action that unfolded. Mrs M reliably informs me that I sat there wide-eyed, mouth open and smiling!

Memorable image from Zulu's opening scene!

A youthful Michael Caine and Zulu's co-producer Stanley Baker

I am of course biased and totally enjoyed the experience no matter how many times I've seen the movie and really appreciated seeing it once again on the big screen it deserves. Mrs M too, who had seen it before - (a bit hard to avoid in our house!) - also enjoyed it, drawn in by the rounded and charismatic characters and the tension of the set pieces. Of course thanks to the like's of Ian Knight's many informative books on the period, I now know the shortcuts and liberties that the movie makers took with the real events at Rorke's Drift, however that still doesn't detract from a splendid piece of cinema and judging by the many smiling satisfied faces at the end of this special screening I wasn't the only one who was glad to be 'ere! 

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