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The Four Feathers

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Four Feathers

Starring: Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: September 2002
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou, Lucy Gordon, Michael Sheen, Rupert Penry-Jones, Tim Pigott-Smith

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Honor, heroism and redemption comprise this epic historical adventure. Set in 1884, when a Brit's highest calling was to fight for Queen and Country, the loyalty-and-love story revolves around Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger), who is considered one of the finest Royal Cumbrians and engaged to marry the beautiful Ethne (Kate Hudson). But when his regiment is sent to quell the Mahdi uprising in the Sudan, he's so riddled with fear that he abruptly resigns his commission. His father, a prominent General, disowns him and Harry is given four white feathers, the shameful symbols of cowardice, from three fellow soldiers and his fiancée. Tormented, he travels alone to North Africa, joins up with a slave warrior/mystic (Djimon Hounsou) and disguises himself as an Arab to infiltrate the enemy to rescue his comrades in the perilous war against the "heathen." Recalling "Lawrence of Arabia," director Shakur Kapur ("Elizabeth"), cinematographer Robert Richardson and composer James Horner revel in the desert sandscape and the raw carnage of the battle sequences. Heath Ledger ("A Knight's Tale") and Djimon Hjounsou ("Amistad") do their best with the truncated Hossein Amini/Michael Schiffer screenplay, one of several screen adaptations of A.E.W. Mason's 1902 novel, that leaves too much unexplored, unexplained and incoherently edited. Like Harry's complex relationship with Jack (Wes Bentley), the only friend who doesn't give him a feather; the brutal behavior of the British military; and the consequences of misguided imperialism. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Four Feathers" is a sweeping, swaggering 6, an ambivalent, often incongruous camel-tale whose vivid images evoke an unsettling connection with "Mohammadan fanatics" and the current conflict in Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger

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