Continuation of: So Long Farewell, Adu Adu Zulu: The Song of Harlech
Often in war, both sides tend to believe in the straightforward narrative that they are right and their enemy is wrong. However, during or after their battle, it would likely dawn upon many that this is a false narrative and that those killed were just regular people that found themselves on the other side. The future version could also easily lop off an hour of battle time to not only refocus on the characters but also briefly recount one of the survivor’s days after the war.
One should not offer criticism without a solution, so to illustrate the power this focus would hold, let’s examine a real-life after the war story from among the war-fighters.
The possibilities of who to choose and why is both a genuine opportunity and a real challenge. With so many fantastic after the war stories to be told, which one would it be? One could tell the story of the last living survivor, then-Colour Sergeant Constance E. Bourne’s journey. It is alleged that Bourne turned down the most prestigious British war medal, The Victoria Cross, in exchange for receiving an officer’s commission.
If the story can be proven correct, it would make for a compelling, uplifting journey of a man making his way up in the world. However, if emotionally draining or a sad demeanor is preferred, well there are a few good candidates from which to choose. If sadness is the emotional aim, there are plenty of “good” options of after war human misery readily available to choose.
One proposal, the life of Private William Jones. At 39-years of age, Jones would find himself in the 1879 battle, discharged from the military by 1880, and unable to find steady employment. So, Jones turns to a hodge-podge of work to include trying to be an actor and touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Sadly, Private Jones after war struggles led him to pawn his Victorian Cross. One need not worry, there is no shortage of misery and poverty for the war heroes.
How would the tale of Corporal Christian Schiess play on the big screen?
Corporal Schiess was not even an original member of the British army. Nope, he made his way to South Africa as a part of the French military, but instead of leaving—he chose to join the British as a member of their volunteer force and receive a Victorian Cross. But there will be no “poor boy makes good” happy ever after the end, oh no. After his war unit disbanded, Schiess would remain in South Africa and fall into deep poverty.
Only a few years later, in 1884, Schiess was taken in off the streets of Cape Town and would then receive an all expenses paid journey to England. The future audience may find themselves feeling hopeful that Schiess’ journey will have a happy ending—only to be blindsided by Schiess falling ill and dying during the ship ride and “buried” at sea—at the tender age of 28-years old. However, the audience can be briefly consoled by the fact that despite his hard-knock life, upon his death, Corporal Schiess did have his Victoria Cross with him. Then it was ceremoniously lifted from him before he was tossed into the sea, but his medal remains on display in London’s National Army Museum.
If it’s mystery one seeks, consider the life experiences of Private Frederick Hitch.
Hitch would suffer severe injuries during the battle with the Zulus and his heroic actions while injured would gain recognition via a Victoria Cross. Unfortunately, Fitch would have his original medal stolen, and the whereabouts remain a mystery even today. However, in a somewhat feel-good fashion, the Fitch family appeals to one, Lord Roberts, led to the issuance of a replacement medal that currently rests safely in a British museum.
If one were to seek the best of both misery and mystery, well even that is a possibility.
Among the best, palatable choices would involve keeping up with the Jones, a different Jones than the one previously mentioned–Private Robert Jones. Private Jones would suffer throughout the remainder of his days, perhaps due to residual war trauma, better known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Less than 20-years after the war, Mr. Robert Jones would succumb to his internal pain and choose to end his own life with a shotgun blast.
At the time, the stigma was such that Mr. Jones would receive a weird burial ceremony due to a societal lack of understanding and compassion that was widely dismissed in favor of hostility toward Private Robert Jones. To add mystery, the Victoria Cross earned by the Private was auctioned off and then vanished into rumors that some rich guy currently possesses Mr. Jones’ war trophy.
As one can now tell, there are intriguing tales to be voiced from the lives of many soldiers that fought the Zulus one faithful day during January of 1879.
In the face of certain death, scores fought gallantly, and the lucky ones would live to see more days, but the impact of war would eventually claim them as casualties too. Zulu, a 1964 British film, attempts to provide an adequate immortalization of the battle, but the campaign could be successfully updated and improved. The world has changed, our understanding and view of war have changed. Thus it would be plausible to use the lessons learned to incorporate into a better version of an old battle.
Furthermore, a cast of real-life characters with real-life journeys after the fight could catalyze to deliver a modern-day morality statement based on the past sacrifice and suffering of previous generations.
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The VC Awards Retrieved November 14, 2017, from http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com
Zulu (1964 film). (2017, November 09). Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zulu_(1964_film)