Four Feathers

Four Feathers

3.9 14
Director: Shekhar Kapur

Cast: Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson


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A.E.W. Mason's perennially popular tale of honor and adventure is brought to the screen yet again in this lavish period action-drama. In 1884, Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is a young officer-in-training in the British Army who is soon to graduate and is expected to be shipped of to the Sudan, where the King's military are battling Muslim insurgents who are… See more details below


A.E.W. Mason's perennially popular tale of honor and adventure is brought to the screen yet again in this lavish period action-drama. In 1884, Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is a young officer-in-training in the British Army who is soon to graduate and is expected to be shipped of to the Sudan, where the King's military are battling Muslim insurgents who are attempting to overturn English colonial rule. Feversham, however, has developed serious ethical reservations about going along, and on the eve of his departure, he resigns his commission. Feversham's best friend and fellow officer Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley) in response presents him with a white feather (a symbol of cowardice), and two of his classmates follow suit. Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson), Feversham's fiancée, presents him with a fourth white feather shortly before breaking off their engagement. Sufficiently humbled, Feversham attempts to win back his honor and the respect of his family and friends by secretly becoming an undercover operative in the Sudan. His initial attempts to pose as an Arab are not especially convincing, but he makes friends with Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), a local sympathetic with the British cause who proves to be a valuable source of insider information and advice on how to blend with the rebels. Meanwhile, Durrance is briefly ordered back to England to help recruit new soldiers for the colonial forces, and he takes the opportunity to begin wooing Eustace, the former flame of his former friend. This adaptation is the fifth film version of The Four Feathers, following two silent screen adaptations (released in 1915 and 1928), Zoltan Korda's memorable 1939 version, and a 1977 made-for-TV movie.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Adapted to film no less than seven times since 1915, A.E.W. Mason’s classic novel of adventure reaches the screen yet again in a sturdily mounted, gorgeously photographed version distinguished by the top-drawer performances of Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, and Kate Hudson. It gives Ledger his meatiest role to date; as Harry Feversham, the young British officer who succumbs to fear and earns the contempt of his friends, this handsome young leading man has never been better. Wes Bentley is equally good as Jack Durrance, Harry’s best friend and fellow officer, who journeys with the regiment to the Sudan, where native chieftains have rebelled against the English. Given a white feather -- the traditional symbol of cowardice -- by each of his three closest comrades and his heartbroken fianceé (Hudson), Harry eventually overcomes his fear and performs feats of bravery designed to redeem himself. Director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) goes to some lengths to shore up Mason’s casually racist story with politically correct underpinnings, but the yarn’s principal thrust remains unaffected. Extensive location shooting, thousands of extras, and superlative battle scenes make this Four Feathers the most elaborate of all, but its greatness derives primarily from the timelessness of its theme: There is no shame in being afraid, as long as you don’t allow fear to determine your actions. Kapur supplies a feature-length commentary for this deluxe DVD edition, which includes a full-blown "making of" documentary and no less than seven featurettes covering various aspects of the production.
All Movie Guide
The redemption of Harry Feversham gets filmed for the half-dozenth time in Shekhar Kapur's lush but ultimately underwhelming The Four Feathers. A.E.W. Mason's story has some pretty non-traditional character dynamics to get used to -- its protagonist is defined by an act of cowardice, and must spend the rest of the narrative haphazardly rehabilitating his good name. Having resigned from the British army on the eve of deployment, Heath Ledger's Harry then guiltily embarks on a "mission" to the Sudan that's as reckless as his prior choice was cautious. But we're certainly justified in asking, as Harry stumbles through African prison camps in belatedly attempting to participate, whether blatant disregard for one's safety is the same as courage, or rather more like self-flagellation. The Four Feathers is particularly cruel to Harry's friend and romantic rival Jack Durrance, who does follow the codes of military conduct by which men's characters are judged, and pays the price by being blinded in action. Kapur casts Wes Bentley in order to add a sneering quality to the otherwise honorable Jack, as though subtly turning the audience against him will obscure the disservice done to his character. Kapur's palette is big, and in Ledger, he's found an actor willing to go big, to inhabit the headspace of Harry at his most defeated and desperate. But there's something wanting about this production, something that prevents it from leaving an impression despite its first-rate materials. Perhaps it's Kate Hudson as Ethne Eustace, the center of their love triangle, who serves as the best metaphor for the film's failings. Even though her character inspires ends-of-the-earth devotion from both Jack and Harry, Hudson barely registers, appearing in only a few scenes, and seeming too featherweight -- so to speak -- for a story that stabs at the soul of the British Empire.
Hollywood Reporter
A rousing if retro adventure film about soldiers and honor and brotherly love. Kirk Honeycutt
New York Post
At its best, The Four Feathers recalls the consummate craftsmanship and irony-free storytelling of Hollywood's Golden Age. Lou Lumenick

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Product Details

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Paramount Catalog
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by director Shekhar Kapur; A journey from within - the making of The Four Feathers; 7 featurettes; Original theatrical trailer

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Heath Ledger Harry Feversham
Wes Bentley Lt. Jack Durrance
Kate Hudson Ethne Eustace
Djimon Hounsou Abou Fatma
Michael Sheen Trench
Alex Jennings Colonel Hamilton
Kris Marshall Castleton
Rupert Penry-Jones Willoughby
Lucy Gordon Actor

Technical Credits
Shekhar Kapur Director
Jo Allen Makeup
Hossein Amini Screenwriter
Laurie Borg Co-producer
Allan Cameron Production Designer
Paul Feldsher Producer
Julie Goldstein Executive Producer
Tommy Gormley Asst. Director
James Horner Score Composer
Peter Howitt Set Decoration/Design
Robert Jaffe Producer
Stanley Jaffe Producer
Martin F. Katz Producer
Peter Lindsay Sound/Sound Designer
Ruth Myers Costumes/Costume Designer
Allon Reich Executive Producer
Robert Richardson Cinematographer
Steven Rosenblum Editor
Michael Schiffer Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Four Feathers
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12
13. Chapter 13
14. Chapter 14
15. Chapter 15
16. Chapter 16
17. Chapter 17
18. Chapter 18
19. Chapter 19

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