THE FOUR FEATHERS
Harry?s quest for redemption is a successful one, and the viewer learns along with him just how far we may have to go, just how much we may have to sacrifice, if we truly want to achieve what we think is right. Director Shekhar Khapur guides us through this quest with a sense of beauty, insanity, conviction and courage.
Review by Ed Travis

THE FOUR FEATHERS
(2002)


This page was created on October 7, 2002
This page was last updated on May 17, 2005


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CREDITS

Click to enlargeDirected by Shekhar Kapur
Novel by A.E.W. Mason
Screenplay by Michael Schiffer

Heath Ledger .... Harry Faversham
Wes Bentley .... Lt. Jack Durrance
Kate Hudson .... Ethne Eustace
Djimon Hounsou .... Abou Fatma
Michael Sheen .... Trench
Alek Wek .... Denka
Kris Marshall .... Castleton
Rupert Penry-Jones .... Willoughby
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Lucy Gordon .... Isabelle
Nick Holder .... British Lion
Alex Jennings .... Colonel Hamilton
Tim Pigott-Smith .... General Faversham
Laila Rouass .... Medicine Girl
Ben Uttley .... General Wolseley's Aide-de-Camp

Click to enlargeProduced by
Laurie Borg .... co-producer
Paul Feldsher .... executive producer
Paul Feldsher .... producer
Julie Goldstein .... executive producer
Robert Jaffe .... producer
Stanley R. Jaffe .... producer
Marty Katz .... producer
Allon Reich .... executive producer

Original Music by James Horner
Cinematography by Robert Richardson
Film Editing by Steven Rosenblum

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disturbing images, violence and some sensuality.
Runtime: 125 min
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

TRAILERS AND CLIPS
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CD SOUNDTRACK

CD InfoThe Four Feathers
(Score)
James Horner


Set against the British Empire's 1898 campaign to reclaim the Sudan, Shekhar Kapur's redux of Zoltan Korda's 1939 mini-epic mixes romance, international intrigue, and the efforts of a British officer to redeem his honor from an act of seeming cowardice. Composer James Horner reinforces the story's romance and clash of cultures by first alternating, then interweaving the romance and tension-building of his Western orchestral music with dollops of exotic Middle Eastern motifs. World music star Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan lends his compelling vocal talents to the latter, imbuing the soundtrack with a haunting humanity that deftly brings to life the film's tragic clash of cultures--and its contemporary historic parallels. Amid this swirl of international tension and personal despair, Horner doles out the traditional melodies sparingly, a choice that makes them stand out all the more, highlighting the film's romantic dimensions in the bargain. It's a score that relies more on a subtle interplay of mood and tension than it does on epic leitmotifs, but one that skillfully creates an exotic, often somber ethos with a dramatic, almost bittersweet denouement. --Jerry McCulley

1. The Makings Of A Fine SoldierMusic 2. The DanceMusic 3. Harry's ResignationMusic 4. Sniper!Music 5. To Abou CleaMusic 6. The Martyrs 7. The Mahdi 8. The Letters 9. Poison From A Friend 10. Escape 11. Ethne's Feather 12. Ghost Of Serenity 13. Coward No Longer, A

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Four Feathers
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BOOK

Book InfoThe Four Feathers
by A. E. W. Mason

Book Description
This classic adventure story -- first published in 1902 -- gains new life in a blockbuster motion picture epic from Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films and remains a timeless novel of love, honor, and courage.

A Soldier's Shame...

It is 1882 and British officer Harry Feversham has it all: a loving fianc?e, the camaraderie of fellow soldiers, a bright future in a nation at the height of its imperial power. But before he is deployed to battle in Africa, he resigns -- and receives white feathers, symbols of cowardice, from three friends...and then a fourth from his fianc?e.

A Love Lost...

Ethne Eustace has pushed Harry out of her life, but not out of her mind. Still, when another suitor comes calling she makes a decision that could destroy Harry...and alter her life forever.

A Heroic Redemption...

His world in tatters, Harry goes undercover in Africa to win back the respect of his comrades. From the bustling markets of Cairo to the sizzling sands of Omdurman prison, he fights with everything he has to bring honor back to his name...and Ethne back to his heart.

This classic adventure story - first published in 1902 - gains new life in a blockbuster motion picture epic from Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films and remains a timeless novel of love, honor, and courage. A Soldier's Shame... It is 1882 and British officer Harry Feversham has it all: a loving fianc?e, the camaraderie of fellow soldiers, a bright future in a nation at the height of its imperial power. But before he is deployed to battle in Africa, he resigns - and receives white feathers, symbols of cowardice, from three friends...and then a fourth from his fianc?e. A Love Lost... Ethne Eustace has pushed Harry out of her life, but not out of her mind. Still, when another suitor comes calling she makes a decision that could destroy Harry...and alter her life forever. A Heroic Redemption... His world in tatters, Harry goes undercover in Africa to win back the respect of his comrades. From the bustling markets of Cairo to the sizzling sands of Omdurman prison, he fights with everything he has to bring honor back to his name...and Ethne back to his heart.

About the Author

A. E. W. Mason (1865-1948) was a bestselling English romantic novelist and author of tales of adventure and detection, often set in exotic locales.

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SYNOPSIS

Click to enlargeA gripping adventure of epic proportions, "The Four Feathers" is a story of heroic redemption, undying loyalty and rivalry in love. Exquisitely filmed against the austere beauty of the Moroccan desert as well as within the grand walls of English aristocracy, this thrilling tale takes audiences into exotic cultures seldom seen on film and explores the fascinating contrast between disparate civilizations. A sweeping saga that captures a friend's bond and a hero's destiny, "The Four Feathers" is a look at man's indomitable spirit to survive. The story is about Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger), admired by comrades as one of the finest British soldiers in his regiment. Passionately devoted to his beautiful bride-to-be, Ethne (Kate Hudson), Click to enlargeHarry has a promising future in the military and a happy life ahead of him with the woman he loves. But when an army of Sudanese rebels attacks a colonial British fortress in Khartoum and his regiment is sent to active duty in North Africa, Harry becomes overwhelmed by self-doubt and uncertainty and resigns his commission as his regiment is being shipped off to war.

Click to enlargeShocked by his son's actions, Harry's father disowns him. Assuming he is afraid, three of Harry's friends -- and even Ethne his fiancee -- each send him a white feather, a symbol of cowardice, none of them able to understand what Harry has done.

Tormented, isolated and alone in London, Harry learns that his best friend Jack (Wes Bentley) and his former regiment have fallen under brutal attack by rebels. Instantly, the bond he has with his comrades inspires him to transcend his uncertainty and self-doubt in order to take on the one mission that is stronger than his resolve against war -- saving his friends at all costs. Click to enlarge

Undertaking the perilous journey into the Sudan alone, he strikes up an alliance with Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), a wise mercenary warrior. Harry then disguises himself as an Arab and goes behind enemy lines to rescue Jack and the rest of his regiment, in an act of unparalleled self-sacrifice and bravery.

Click to enlarge"The Four Feathers" takes place during the heyday of imperialism when the nations of Europe were scrambling to divide Africa among themselves. In 1884, a Muslim religious leader, Muhammad Ahmed, known as the Madhi, led the Sudanese Arabs in a revolt against British rule, and General Charles Gordon was dispatched to quell the rebellion. But the Madhi's warriors proved to be too much for Gordon, and he and his men found themselves besieged in Khartoum, which eventually fell in 1885, sending the general and much of his army to their graves.

Inspired by A.E.W. Mason's classic novel, the film begins in 1875, ten years before the fall of Khartoum to the Mahdi's warriors. It is the extraordinary story of the courageous British reinforcement troops sent to raise the siege of Khartoum, and it exemplifies the pride of those young soldiers as well as their vulnerability against an enemy unafraid to die.

"The Four Feathers" is perhaps more contemporary today than ever because of the nation's passion for patriotism, a theme which is at the heart of the film. But while young Harry Feversham is certainly proud to serve his country, he is concerned about fighting blindly in the name of England's imperialist expansion, and that is what sets the film in motion.

REVIEW by
ED TRAVIS
Email Ed Travis here
A graduate of Eastern University and assistant Youth Director at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church in Gaithersburg, MD

Click to enlargeThe Four Feathers The Four Feathers is a film which primarily deals with the themes of friendship, courage, and redemption. It attempts to deal with the theme of love between a man and a woman as well, but on this front the film lacks.

The story deals with best friends Harry (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Wes Bentley) and their involvement in the British military around 1875. Click to enlargeAt this time, the British were quite keen on expanding their empire as far as possible, and so the two best friends and soldiers are warned that they will be called to fight for the Queen in the Sudan. Apparently there is an uprising of militant Muslims lead by a radical leader, and Britain sees fit to send off its military to quell this rebellion. This does not go over well in the mind of Harry, who has just become engaged to Ethne (Kate Hudson).

Harry promptly drops his commission in the army and in the process drops his claim at manhood. His friends, including his fianc?e, send him the film?s namesake, four feathers, as a sign of cowardice. Harry has lost it all, and then discovers that his friends have fallen into danger out in the Sudan. He goes out on his own to the Sudan to seek redemption, to regain his much needed masculinity, and most of all to protect his best friends, proving that he is not a coward. Well, we can all be sure that he also goes to impress the girl, as is the motive behind so many masculine acts, but again, the romance between man and woman feels flat here even as the ties between friends is explored in better depth.

Click to enlargeOne of the most important things that the film captures is the growth of our hero Harry. In the beginning, Harry truly is a coward. He leaves all responsibility behind and tries to simply run away with his lover. But when he faces this reality as a coward, he owns up to responsibility, and seeks to redeem himself. Thus begins his transformation from coward to loyal friend, which takes him through hell on earth and back.

Another intense factor in this film is that Harry really goes into some horrible situations and places to seek the redemption he needs. This is not an easy task, and he puts his life on the line many times for the love of his friends. He almost dies in the desert, he almost dies in a prison, he almost dies in battle?this guy will not stop until he has saved his friends.

Does God have a presence in this film? Yes, God is very present in the character/conscience that Harry meets in the Sudan named Abou (Djimon Hounsou in an amazing performance? as one of the coolest characters we?ve seen in some time!). The interesting thing about this character is that he is always the one to bail Harry out from said desert, said prison, and said battles. Click to enlarge

This character is the ultimate presence of self-sacrifice and loyalty, and the only discernable presence of Christianity in the film. Well, there is a fidget-inducing scene at the beginning of the film in which a church father commissions the soldiers by telling them that they are indeed a superior race of men, and that it is their God-given duty to destroy the heathens?yikes!

Click to enlargeYet the only reason Abou gives for constantly protecting Harry is that ?God put you in my path?. Abou shows Harry the ultimate act of primal friendship as a lesson from God to our hero. Abou may not be a Christ like figure in his many acts of violence in battle, but his self-sacrifice, his willingness to give his life for Harry, is reminiscent of the all-sacrificing Christ. Harry learns as he goes what it really means to be a friend, and at the film?s conclusion, we are lead to believe that he has come to live by Abou?s creed?but we won?t give away the end just now.

Harry?s quest for redemption is a successful one, and the viewer learns along with him just how far we may have to go, just how much we may have to sacrifice, if we truly want to achieve what we think is right. Director Shekhar Khapur guides us through this quest with a sense of beauty in the settings, of sense of insanity and courage in battle, and a sense of conviction that if we are truly to live courageously, there are personal sacrifices that must be made.

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