Continuity mistake: When Corporal Allen pulls Private Hitch off the ramparts when Hitch is shooting at Zulu's in the hills with his pith helmet on backwards, Hitch gets shot in the leg, and Allen pulls him in. Allen is shot in the chest, he clutches his chest, falls inside ramparts with blood underneath his clutching hand. When you see him after camera cut he is clutching the OTHER side of his chest.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Michael Caine shoots at the cheetah, you can see the trainer in the clump of trees beckoning the animal on.
Continuity mistake: Even though Lt. Bromhead shot a cheetah, the porters carry a dead leopard back to camp.
Revealing mistake: When Mr Witt rides out of the Zulu camp in a 2 horse cart at the beginning of the movie, just before it exits, you can see it's a stunt double at the reins.
Factual error: A bit of dramatic license was taken by the scriptwriters. Though portrayed in the film as a skiving drunkard, in real life Private Hook was considered a model soldier who was a lifetime teetotaller. Hook was receiving good conduct pay at the time of the battle.
Continuity mistake: The porters carrying the Leopard across the river pass by Baker. The next cut shows them approaching him.
Other mistake: In the scene when the Zulu warriors have broken through the roof in the hospital. The British make a hole and escape through it. You can clearly see the hole that they are going to cut open because it is a different color
Factual error: Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead were both rather elderly for their ranks (in their mid-30s) and Bromhead's career had begun to suffer due to a hearing problem. Like most members of the garrison, both had full beards.
Continuity mistake: After the Zulus' final charge which follows the rendition of "Men of Harlech", they appear on the hills round Rorke's Drift to give their salute to the garrison before leaving. In one shot, filmed from behind the Zulus, both buildings, church and hospital are standing even though the hospital burned down during the battle. Seconds later in the next shot of the post from the hills, only the church is standing and a column of smoke rises from the ruins of the hospital. I believe that some scenes were filmed of the Zulu Impi crossing the Buffalo River and marching to Rorke's Drift, but were cut from the film. The first shot mentioned above could be one of these.
Factual error: Colour Sergeant Bourne was in fact rather a small man (which Nigel Green is not) and was actually, in his early 20s, the youngest colour sergeant in the British Army.
Factual error: Assistant Commissary Dalton, portrayed as a bit of an upper-class twit in the film, was in actuality a former infantry quartermaster sergeant and the most experienced soldier in the garrison. He helped to plan the defense.
Continuity mistake: In the Diamond DVD, chapter 4, time 01:36:04, Stanley Baker is shown in a far shot breaking open his revolver and emptying the spent cartridges. Without reloading, he does it again seven seconds later in a close-up shot.
Continuity mistake: During the lull before the attack on the hospital, when Pte. Hook walks over to the doorway to speak to somebody, his suspenders are dangling down from his waist. A minute later, when the camera angle changes, his suspenders are suddenly up over his shoulders. Then, when the camera angle changes again, his suspenders are back down again.
Factual error: The 24th is identified as the "South Wales Borderers." In 1879, the regiment was the 2nd Warwickshire. It did not become a Welsh regiment until 1881.
Factual error: The Swedish missionary Otto Witt is portrayed as a drunkard who encourages the soldiers to abandon their posts. In reality Otto Witt helped the defense by helping to build the barricades. He later volunteered to assist as a lookout on the nearby hill. He departed before the battle to join his wife and two daughters at a nearby farm.
Deliberate mistake: This is a mistake which is a function of the limitation of the special effects at the time and what the censors would allow in the cinema but the wounds suffered by the Zulus do no justice to the horrific injuries that the Martini Henry rifle would have caused. The Martini Henry fired a big .45 inch soft nosed bullet that usually shattered on impact. It would have caused massive gaping wounds rather than the little red dots and trickles of blood shown on the Zulus and left many of them limbless as the bullets tore off arms and legs.
Continuity mistake: When Zulus are battering down the door leading to Hook's bunk and the soldiers inside are escaping through a hole they knocked in the wall, at some point a blazing log falls across the hole. Some shots later, it's gone.
Plot hole: There must have been a shortage of Martini-Henry rifles for this production, for in the climactic charge scenes in which the three ranks of British soldiers deliver volley after volley into the Zulu masses, the soldiers closest to the camera are equipped with lever action Martini-Henry's but those further back in the line can be seen pulling up and back on bolt action rifles.
Factual error: The webbing the British soldiers wear is incorrect. They are wearing Slade Wallace which is 1888 onwards. They should be wearing 71 Valise pattern.
Deliberate mistake: The Zulus sniping on the defenders from the mountain are armed with Martini Henry Rifles implying they were taken from the dead at Isandlwhana. This couldn't have happened as the Zulus attacking Rorke's Drift did not fight at Isandlwhana, they were only the reserves. The looting of the camp was done by those who fought there. The Zulu snipers used old muskets.
Factual error: After the battle, the remaining Zulus left the field without making a sound, unlike the movie.
Factual error: Conversely Corporal Allen, portrayed as the model soldier, was demoted from sergeant (his previous rank) for drunkenness before the battle.
Continuity mistake: Stanley Baker falls into the river. His legs and right arm go underwater. A moment later he is taking off a perfectly dry tunic.
Factual error: Stanley Baker (in the scene where he reloads his revolver) is shown using a Webley Mark VI - not issued until 1915.
Continuity mistake: During the battle in the hospital, when Hook bayonets a Zulu up against the wall, the bayonet clearly goes under the armpit, not through as the mark left on the wall afterwards would suggest.
Factual error: In the actual battle the wagons were not tipped over, the space beneath was filled with mealie bags and ammunition boxes. This made the bayonet equipped rifles more effective against the much shorter assagais, since the assagai-armed Zulus could not engage without climbing onto the wagons.
Continuity mistake: When the preacher (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter are leaving Rourke's drift in a cart it cuts to two soldiers talking, then cuts back to the departing cart - if you look carefully you can see a car drive along the distant hillside.
Factual error: Henry Hook in fact retired from the Army as a Sergeant-Instructor, hardly the barrack-room lawyer as which he is portrayed.
Continuity mistake: During one of the first Zulu attacks, a local is walking behind Chard carrying a box of ammo with a bayonetless rifle slung over his shoulder. The man is hit by a bullet and goes down. Chard quickly checks the man and then realises he's being charged by three Zulus. He shoots the first with his pistol, runs out of ammo so makes a grab for the dead mans rifle which now suddenly has a bayonet attached to it.
Factual error: Another commissary (senior to Dalton) and an army chaplain (who distinguished himself by handing out ammunition during the battle) were also present in the garrison.
Factual error: When private Hitch is wounded, he is shot in the leg. He was actually shot in the shoulder. The bullet shattered his shoulder blade and he was invalided out of the Army as a result.
Continuity mistake: When Bromhead is standing on the burning roof firing his pistol at the Zulus running about below, you can see there's no gun smoke or muzzle flash from the barrel. It looks as if he's just pointing it around.
Factual error: At the begining of the film, Chard and Bromhead do not know one another and during the preparations for the defence it is indicated that Chard and Commissary Dalton do not know each other. Chard had actually been stationed at Rorke's Drift for several days before the battle and knew both Bromhead and Dalton.
Factual error: Several of the Martini-Henrys shown in the movie are later models that could not possibly have been present at Rorke's Drift. These include the Mark III, Mark IV, and several variants of the Francotte Cadet and Boer ZAR Contract Westley-Richards (neither manufactured until 1895) along with Bromhead's hunting rifle. One of the Zulus is even carrying a Martini-Enfield .303 Carbine, not manufactured until 1899.
Continuity mistake: Colour Sergeant Bourne goes one on one with a large Zulu warrior and kills him. Later, this same Zulu warrior is alive & well.
Factual error: In history, the battle at Rourke's Drift was NOT ordered by Cetewayo. Cetewayo gave specific commands to his men not to attack any entrenched British positions; the Rourke's Drift assault was in fact spearheaded by one of his headstrong siblings eager to prove his warrior worth to his brother.
Continuity mistake: During the latter Zulu attacks, a number of charging Zulus fall to the ground clutching their chests as if shot before a single shot has been fired.
Factual error: In the hospital, Corporal Friedrich Schiess tells William and Robert Jones that he's a member of the Natal Mounted Police. In actuality, Cpl. Schiess was a member of the Natal Native Contingent, a distinctly different branch of the colonial forces. The Natal Mounted Police did, however, have three men present at the Battle of Rorke's Drift: Troopers Lugg, Green, and Hunter, and Trooper Henry Lugg later published two detailed accounts of the battle.
Continuity mistake: One shot of the Zulus attacking is shown in reverse - all the Zulus appear to be left handed.
Revealing mistake: In the scene where the cavalry arrive (Chard thinks they are coming to help) and ride up to the sandbag wall, you can quite see the lighting being turned on as they get near. For a few seconds they are all in heavy shadow under their hat brims, then suddenly their faces are well lit. It's not a cut, it's one continuous shot.
Continuity mistake: During the first major Zulu attack, a warrior leaps down from the rampart and faces a British soldier (near the bottom right of the screen). The soldier lunges with his rifle and it's all too visible that his bayonet stabs "to the side" of the Zulu's chest. Yet the Zulu falls dead; what, was he frightened to death or something?
Continuity mistake: During one of the attacks, the Zulus are charging en masse towards the ramparts manned by British riflemen. When Bromhead yells "Fire!" the soldiers open fire with their rifles....and some Zulus at the REAR of the charge fall dead whilst those in the front continue charging, uninjured.
Continuity mistake: Chard gets struck on the neck by a Zulu shield, and he falls as if severely wounded. There's no blood on his neck, yet later when Bromhead pulls him upright, his collar is smeared with it. Anyway, how can a blow like that knock him silly? Bromhead was later struck by a Zulu shield on the neck as well, yet he was fine.