Filming in KZN

2008-04-18 00:00

Film makers have been shooting feature films in KwaZulu-Natal since the early decades of the 20th century, some of them local South African productions, others overseas features, both British and American. This is the second of three articles attempting to list them all in chronological order — and to identify whereabouts in the province they were filmed.

Not all the films mentioned were shot here in their entirety; sometimes just a few sequences were filmed, and in one or two cases maybe they were not shot here at all. For example, Sammy Going South was based on the novel by W. H. Canaway and is the story of an orphan boy trekking from Cairo down through Africa to Durban.

However, the Internet Movie Date Base (imdb) does not identify Durban as a location but lists Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Chobham Common, Surrey, England. Was Durban used as a location?

You’ll find a number of such question marks as you go through the list. Similarly, while location areas have been identified, in some cases this hasn’t been possible.

Bitter Spears (directed by Attilio Gatti, 1962?). A sound remake of Siliva the Zulu (see below). H. C. Lugg was technical adviser and the film featured the famous sangoma Zizwezonke “Khekheke” Mthetwa, in the Eshowe area.

Sammy Going South (directed by Alexander McKendrick, 1963). Orphan boy hitchhikes from Port Said in Egypt to Durban where his aunt lives. But were the final scenes shot in Durban? Stars Fergus McClelland, Edward G. Robinson, Constance Cummings and Harry G. Corbett.

Coast of Skeletons (directed by Robert Lynn 1963). Loose adaptation of Edgar Wallace’s Sanders of the River. Stars Richard Todd, Dale Robertson Marianne Koch, Elga Andersen, Derek Nimmo and Gordon Mulholland. Some scenes may have been shot at Lake St Lucia.

Zulu (directed by Cy Endfield, 1964). Recreation of the battle of Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Stars Stanley Baker, Michael Caine and Jack Hawkins. Mangosuthu Buthelezi appears as King Cetshwayo kaMpande. Drakensberg, Amphitheatre area.

Dingaka (directed by Jamie Uys, 1965). Culture-clash drama that sees a rural African come to the big city seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter. Stars Ken Gampu, Stanley Baker, Juliet Prowse and Siegfried Mynhardt.

Tokoloshe (directed by Peter Prowse, 1966). Young boy leaves his rural village — where his life is in danger — for the big city and is taken in by a kindly blind man. Stars Sidney James and Saul Pelle. Mangosuthu Buthelezi plays a Zulu chief. Most, if not all of the film, was shot in Johannesburg and Soweto, but one shot shows the Drakensberg and the scenes featuring Buthelezi may have been filmed in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Kruger Millions (directed by Ivan Hall, 1967). Drama around the fabled missing millions of Paul Kruger. Stars Gé Korsten, Brenda Bell, Karel Trichardt, Bob Courtney and James White.

Majuba (directed by David Millin, 1968). The deciding battle of the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881). Based on Stuart Cloete’s novel Hill of Doves. Stars Anthony James, Kerry Jordan, Patrick Mynhardt and Anna Neethling-Pohl.

The Mercenaries aka Dark of the Sun (directed by Jack Cardiff, 1968). Mercenaries in the Congo. Based on the novel Dark of the Sun by Wilbur Smith. Stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Kenneth More. The IMDB says African location material was shot in Jamaica.

Die Voortrekkers (directed by David Millin, 1973). Story of the Great Trek. Stars Patrick Mynhardt, Anna Neethling-Pohl and Carel Trichardt.

The Dove (directed by Charles Jarrott, 1974). True story of Robin Lee Graham’s solo five-year yacht journey around the globe. Durban is one of the stop-off points. Or was it? The IMDB says Cape Town was a location. Stars Joseph Bottoms, Deborah Raffin.

Shout at the Devil (directed by Peter R. Hunt, 1976). Adventure set during World War 2 in which an unlikely group set about destroying a German battleship off Zanzibar. Based on the novel by Wilbur Smith. Stars Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Barbara Parkins and Ian Holm.

Zulu Dawn (Douglas Hickox, 1978). Prequel to Zulu features the battle of Isandlwana where a British force was annihilated by a Zulu army in 1879. Stars Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Simon Ward and Denholm Elliott. Babanango area and locations in and around Pietermaritzburg including Baynesfield, Sans Souci in Pentridge, the Maritzburg Oval in Alexandra Park and the Natal Lion Park and Zoological Gardens, Ashburton.

• This filmography was created with assistance from Trevor Moses, researcher, National Film, Video and Sound Archives, Pretoria.

• Can you fill in the gaps? If you can or if you can correct any mistakes and omissions please contact Stephen Coan at 033 355 1111 or via e-mail at

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