The Four Feathers (2002) Poster

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7/10
As an entertaining adventure film, "The Four Feathers" stands firm…
Nazi_Fighter_David27 April 2008
The story is set in 1884 during the British Empire uprising…

Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) is a young army officer from a distinguished military family who never wanted to join the army… He did it for his father… He resigns his commission on the eve of his regiment's departure for Sudan… Harry has already disgusted his strict father, a respected General in the Queen's Army, by declaring no interest in a soldier's life and now that he is about to be married to his beloved Ethne (Kate Hudson), he wants to settle down…

When his closest friends and fellow officers find out that he disgraced the regiment, they send him a box of feathers of cowardice… When Ethne sends him another feather, he then disappears to redeem himself, to face up to his fears, to discover himself, to win back his self-respect...

Shekhar Kapur's "The Four Feathers" is beautifully filmed and performed… The themes of love, honor, loyalty, friendship, trust, redemption, wisdom, true strength, and true courage are all there… They made the characters entirely plausible… But what truly lingers in the memory about it are the stunning sequences filmed in the Sudan and the splendid staging of several battles, showing the then standard British tactics employed in holding off attackers—the forming of squares, with riflemen deployed in standing, kneeling, firing, holding line, and keeping eye on the target… These exciting scenes of combat and carnage are truly impressive…
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1/10
This director doesn't know what a square is for - SOME SPOILERS
teacher_tom5166 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie should have had SO much going for it. A top rated if somewhat revisionistic director whose first big effort in the west, Elizabeth, certainly made me look up and take notice. A pair of strong male leads whose work in films like American Beauty and The Knights Tale certainly wasn't shabby. Superb production values. And some research certainly went into it as shown by the introduction which references Sir Henry Newbolt's famous poem of Victorian and Edwardian youth and manhood going into battle as if they were going to a football match.

Then, as they say in the Victorian army, 'it all went 'orribly wrong'.

SOME SPOILERS BELOW The history behind this director's chosen period - the first Gordon relief expedition - certainly has more than enough adventure and drama to it, particularly when one considers that not only does Newbolt immortalize it in Vitai Lampada but so does Kipling with his 'Fuzzy Wuzzy' who, indeed, did nearly break the legendary British squares at the battles of Abu Klea and Tamai.

Someone, however, needs to explain to this director what a SQUARE FORMATION is and what it does. This is more than just a military nerd's nitpicking it is - and one sees this at the party scene toward the start - a KEY ELEMENT in the narrative. The officers of the Royal Cumbrians 'form square' to create a nice little romantic space for the romantic leads but what's never explained - probably because the director doesn't get it - is that a square formation is key against both cavalry (as at Waterloo) and native warriors (as at Ulundi and the Sudan) because A SQUARE CANNOT BE FLANKED. You cannot 'get behind' a square and stab the hapless infantryman in the back because another face of the square is guarding the back. As such this formation, outdated on European battlefields where long-range rifle fire and more accurate cannons could mangle these squares at range, was key for fighting less technologically advanced or cavalry heavy enemies.

Now a square is ridiculously vulnerable to fire - logically a shot that hits one guy at one face of the square will hit someone on the opposite face. Infantry cannot stand in square for long as ranged fire will cut them down until there are too few men standing to maintain the formation. Thus the next thing that the director doesn't get comes into play - COMBINED ARMS. A square can stand IF it has artillery - sometimes outside as at Waterloo, sometimes at the corners as at Ulundi and the Sudan to shoot up attackers at range. And the British infantry had a wonderful new piece of artillery with them in the Sudan - the Machine Gun. When speaking of the colonial wars, one British politico remarked, "Whatever happens, we've got the Maxim gun and they don't".

Problem is, after referencing the Newbolt poem the director FORGETS the central stanza with its reference to 'The Gatling's Jammed and the Colonel's Dead'. This was one reason why the Brit squares were nearly broken on occasion by the fanatical Dervishes - the machine guns would sometimes jam, if fired too fast or if it got too hot or sand got into the mechanism, etc.

Toward the end of the battle the surviving British officer orders the soldiers to break formation and retreat. This totally ruined it for me. NO British officer in their right mind would be so stupid - sheer logic dictates that one REMAIN in formation as long as possible as a retreat, every man for himself, would lead to the utter destruction of the unit. Even the surrounded British companys at Isandhlwana fought back to back until they were utterly overwhelmed. By rights the entire regiment should have been eliminated to a man.

Well, that's the military side of things.

The actors are way too politically correct. Like it or not Victorians WERE racist in their attitudes to 'lesser breeds without the law' and no British officer would have hesitated to shoot a man who fired on his troops - the sharpshooter would have been shot down like a dog without a second thought. No explanation is really given for the political situation and one gets the impression that these are transplanted American GI's in Fallujah trying to win hearts and minds rather than British redcoats in the Sudan.

The speech of Durrance at the end was ludicrous and long and given the lack of emotion throughout the movie, never had a snowball's chance in hell of stirring up emotion for the man on the right (or left).

The editing was choppy - particularly toward the end when the couple are walking out of the barracks. The soldiers drilling in the background jump-cut all over the place.

The film, for all the redcoats and 'jolly good old boy' accents NEVER invokes the Victorian era in manners or morals. The director just does NOT get the heart of the film that at this time courage, honour and all those things which we consider effete and stupid today were actually cherished - at least until the carnage of WW1 showed them to be idols with feet of clay.

SPOILERS END HERE.

As a film it's overblown, revisionist and Kate Hudson is horribly miscast. There are many fine British and Commonwealth actresses - why Kate? Just because Almost Famous made her flavour of the month? This film was about as Victorian as Shanghai Knights. No Gunga Din, Zulu or Man Who Would Be King, this one. Spare yourself the agony and expense and watch one of the above three instead of this rotten egg of a picture.
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4/10
Skip This Lackluster, Inaccurate Version and Watch the 1939 Rendition.
zardoz-1320 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
British author A.W.E. Mason, sometimes referred to as the poor man's Rudyard Kipling, would rollover in his grave if he saw what a shambles Indian-born (as in India) director Shekhar Kapur of "Elizabeth" has made of his classic war novel about camaraderie, cowardice, and second chances. For the record, Hollywood produced "The Four Feathers" for the first time in 1915 and the second time in 1921. American director Merian C. Cooper of "King Kong" fame came along and made it the third time in 1929 with Fay Wray and Richard Arlen in 1929, and British director Zoltan Korda did the best known version in color in 1939, (the fourth time if you're counting) with Ralph Richardson. Weirdly enough, Korda remade "The Four Feathers" under a different title in 1955 called "Storm Over the Nile" with Anthony Steel, James Robertson Justice, Ian Carmichael, Ronald Lewis, Michael Hordern. In 1977, Don Sharp made the fifth version as an NBC-TV television movie with Beau Bridges, Robert Powell, Simon Ward, and Jane Seymour. Since then this durable adventure about the imperial British Army in African has emerged as a perennial favorite with filmmakers. So far they have remade it seven times, six times on screen and once for television. As the seventh remake, Kapur's version of "The Four Feathers" seems more plucked than profound, more improbable than possible, and more jingoistically old-fashioned than fashionable. Watch the Charlton Heston blockbuster "Khartoum" (1966) for an historical frame of reference.

Indeed, "Horse Feathers" might have been a title more befitting this sprawling but shallow spectacle about the British Empire in its heyday. Nevertheless, "The Four Feathers" looks pictorially gorgeous on the big-screen with its grand-scale battles and its savage Moroccan scenery. Unfortunately, this swashbuckling costumer lacks the guts of its glorious predecessors. Wishy-washy characters, preposterous plotting, and Kapur's uneven storytelling plucks this rendition of "The Four Feathers." Essentially, "The Four Feathers" chronicles the rise, fall, and redemption of Victorian-Era British Army officer Harry Faversham (Australian heartthrob Heath Ledger of "Monster's Ball"), who resigns his commission when he learns the Queen Mum plans to ship the Royal Cumbrian Regiment off to the Sudan to combat revolting Arab tribesmen. "I sometimes wonder," Faversham comments in half-hearted protest, "what a godforsaken desert in the middle of nowhere has to do with her majesty the queen.

Not only does Faversham's decision infuriate his dad, a proud British Army General Faversham (Tim Pigott-Smith of "Gangs of New York") who disowns him, but it also galls Harry's longtime comrades-at-arms: William Trench (Michael Sheen of "Blood Diamond"), Tom Willoughby (Rupert Penry-Jones of "Charlotte Gray") and Edward Castelton (Kris Marshall of "Love Actually"), and his distraught fiancée Ethne (Kate Hudson of "Almost Famous"). Each sends him a white feather, a symbol of cowardice in English circles. Only Harry's closest friend Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley of "American Beauty") refuses to give him a feather. Anyway, the British Army lands in the Sudan, while Harry wallows in misery. When he learns his pals have gotten themselves captured, our psychic protagonist storms off to save them, masquerading as an unconvincing "Lone Ranger/Rambo" nomad. During his journey of hardship, Harry befriends About Fatma (scene-stealing Djimon Hounsou of "Gladiator"), a destiny-bound, "Last of the Mohicans" style, native mercenary who becomes his guide and sidekick.

Scenarist Michael Schiffer of "The Peacemaker" and Hossein Amimi of "Jude" have trivialized this timeless tale of testosterone. First, they have changed Mason's hero's name from Faversham to Feversham. Second, they refuse to explain why our hero chickens out. Is he a coward? Or an idealist? Basically, "The Four Feathers" recycles every cliché you have ever seen in a cavalry versus the Indians western, with Redcoats replacing bluecoats and Islamics instead of Apaches. Actually, the British wore grey coats, not redcoats. If you want to see the best version of "The Four Feathers," catch the 1939 Technicolor version and skip this harmless but half-baked hokum.
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10/10
Critics? Don't listen. This is a very, very good film.
Mercy Bell (mercybell)21 September 2002
The newest rendition of the Four Feathers is a real epic, aesthetically beautiful, sweeping, completely refreshing in terms of emotional presentation and scope for both characters and audience. This is one of the best of this year in terms of mainstream film.

The beginning drags, and the editing is confusing at times, the lighting is dark, and it has a rich (as in dense) atmosphere to it that can make it seem unnecessarily claustrophobic at times, yet which helps during certain scenes (don't want to give anything away). In fact the first 1/3 of the movie is a plum bore. But as soon as Harry goes off following some enemy spies, the movie flows beautifully. It becomes quite the rousing adventure, with lots of fairly disgusting dead bodies and their missing parts all over the place (surprising for a PG-13 flick) and the sole battle scene is one of the better ones I've ever seen, because it creates uncliched emotion, and it's very effective in creating a seemingly helpless situation, with great battle choreography to boot.

In a movie that has quite a few flaws, it does something really well, develops supporting characters (other than Wes Bentley). The 4 different comrades of Harry's, plus Adu (Hounsou's character), have faces and lives and are important to the flow of the story, though they seem fairly unimportant till it matters (again, don't want to give anything away), when something happens to them, you want to know, and care about, what will become of them. It was refreshing to actually know the fellow soldiers in a war movie for once! And it helps add to the great emotional impact this movie has.

The acting is OK. There are no bad performances, bad accents to be sure, but Heath Ledger ceases to be his heartthrob self and eventually turns into the character (somewhere between the chapped lips and matted hair I suppose), and provides a steady and trustworthy lead performance. Hudson, I think, is too big for her role, though she and Bentley both provided, again, well done and steady roles. Djimon Hounsou is really the standout. Other than technical aspects I don't think it'll get any nods, except maybe for Hounsou who is exceptional in the film.

I think that this is a very good film that boasts great cinematography, authentic and realistic costumes and excellent production design, and for me, a great emotional punch, plus a captivating adventure story. It's definitely not a teen flick, or chick flick, it's too gruesome and historical for either faction. And unlike other better systematically made films I've seen this year, it didn't feel "canned", too unoriginal, or overly pretentious, it felt fresh.

I think this suffered the fate of fairly bad advertising and early press and not living up to the expectation of "Elizabeth", but I'm glad I saw it because I really did enjoy it, a lot. Highly recommended.
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7/10
Sweeping new adaptation plenty of idealism , heroism and overwhelming battles
ma-cortes5 January 2008
This sixth rendition about known story by A.E.W. Mason concerns on a British young officer named Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) . Resigning from Army , he's rejected by his father (Tim Pigott-Smith), branded as a coward and sent four white feathers by his friends (Wes Bentley, Michael Sheen) and his engaged fiancée (Kate Hudson) . Determined to save his honor he heads to Sudan against Derviches . There arrives the expedition of help commanded by General Wolsey and Kitchener for stifle the rebellious Sudan's tribes ruled by 'the Madhdi', the ¨expected one¨ (events narrated in ¨Khartoum¨ film -1966- with Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier , directed by Basil Dearden). The Madhi along with Arab tribes had besieged Khartoum (1884) and vanquished General Gordon . Faversham disguised himself as a native will save his friends from certain death and he will retrieve the lost honors . He's only helped by a valiant African-Muslim native (Dijimon Honsou) . Then , there took place the major fight scene , the Battle of Abu Klea , on January 17, 1885 when British Desert Column of approximately 1,100 troops fought a Mahdist force of over 12,000 dervishes .

This spectacular adventure detailing the epic feats of a brave hero contains noisy action , idealism , romance , unlimited courage , breathtaking battles and impressive outdoors . Heath Ledger as a stubborn officer is cool , Wes Bentley as his best friend is convincingly played and Kate Hudson as his girlfriend is enjoyable . Special mention to Dijimon Honsou as the corpulent helper . Sensational battle scenes made by hundreds of extras and by means of computer generator . Evocative cinematography reflecting the late 1800's and spectacular African landscapes by cameraman Robert Richardson . Appropriate and atmospheric musical score by James Horner . The motion picture was professionally directed by Shekhar Kapur . He's a costumer/epic expert , as he proved in ¨Bandit queen ¨and ¨Elizabeth I¨ and its sequel . Other adaptations about this famous story are the followings : The classic rendition by Zoltan Korda (1939) with John Clemens , Ralph Richardson and Jane Duprez ; 'Storm over the sand' (1955) by Terence Young with Anthony Steel , James Robertson Justice , Mary Ure and Laurence Harvey ; and for TV (1978) By Don Sharp with Beau Bridges , Jane Seymour and Robert Powell.
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10/10
I demand the 3-hour original release!
jmcgarmott28 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This film had so many things going for it, despite the odds. In the end, it was the odds that pulled it down. The film was well made, and though I wasn't too impressed with Elizabeth I think Shekhar Kapur did an admirable job under very pressurised situations (constantly visited by worried producers, directing a film whose script isn't finished yet, the rigours of the desert, as well as the daunting aspect of directing 1,000+ extras which few films nowadays have with the advent of CGI replicating). The cinematography was wonderful, seriously on par with The English Patient though in a different way - in its way. The score - what can I say about it except that I've almost worn out the score soundtrack CD by James Horner due to the unique Qawwali wailings combined with a heartbreaking and tender piano theme. Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson and Wes Bentley, all non-Brits, did an admirable job handling the accents and still managing to come out with dramatic performances. I don't get it - why did non-Brits accuse them of not having perfect accents? I don't know whether they have perfect accents but they certainly sounded British. Some people said they were stiff. I don't see how that could be a complaint for a movie set in Victorian Britain. The script was not bad - nothing negative should be said about it.

Now here is where the theatrical release of the film faltered - the editing. The original cut was three hours long, a release which apparently Miramax boss approved of. Somehow, 9/11 got in the way due to the anti-colonialist stance of the movie. Also, studios generally dislike 3-hour releases. Kapur was flung back into the editing room to chop it down to 2 hours. Which he did. And many people complained that the movie was incoherent, that there were jumps. And this is why. (Spoilers till end of paragraph.) I think the scene where Ethne's feather was presented to Harry may have been filmed but was cut, causing some people to lament the loss of a dramatic moment. Also, many people couldn't understand the motives behind Harry's actions, first leaving the army, then going after his friends. I believe the editing had a lot to do with that.

In other words, everything about the movie was good, right up to before it was to be edited to 2 hours. Some people might complain it was boring - they deserve to watch films like The Matrix and that's it - that's all they deserved. Some people kept saying that the previous version(s) were better. Maybe that's true for the older folks but for me (and I believe for most of the younger generations) it is difficult for us to watch films made decades ago, due to the different style and pacing of different eras. The older generation may watch films such as Chicago and lament the advent of the MTV generation; whereas people like me would watch Casablanca and find it wide-open-mouth-shocked to be ranked 2nd on the AFI 100 Films. So I believe there is nothing wrong with the remaking of The Four Feathers - it is making a period film using today's kind of epic filmmaking style. You can see how the colours are so rich, how the battle scenes are filmed in ways more sophisticated than a 1939 film can.

Also, poor marketing has failed this movie, causing it to earn only 1/4 of its budget on the domestic market. On the other hand, I did noticed that negative critics tend to be American. Some people actually thought of it as swashbuckling adventure. It is not - while Harry may do things that seem impossible realistically, it works fine in a film which also aims to make people feel rather than just watch. There is enough realism that it doesn't look stupid. Apparently Americans disagree - one viewer reported laughing in the cinemas ... and it isn't the part where the Englishman is laughing.

The DVD version has been released in the US. It is the Special Collectors' Edition, but it remains the same 2-hour flawed movie. I charge that Miramax release a 3-hour Director's Cut edition of the movie in its DVD release overseas. The film deserves at least that.
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7/10
Highly Underrated
mOVIemAN569 August 2005
The Four Feathers was a film that didn't receive much public interest or anticipation when released in 2002. I didn't even hear of the film until it was being advertised on STARZ as a new release on the network. I decided to flick it on not expecting much but was pleasantly surprised by the film.

Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) is the son of a British war hero. Along with his friends, he is among the top officers being shipped to the Sudan where rebellion has broken out. Harry, unlike his friends, doesn't want to be a soldier and resigns his post. After receiving four white feathers from his friends and fiancée he decides to head to the Sudan to help his doomed friends.

The acting is top notch with Wes Bentley, Heath Ledger, and Djimon Hounsou in leading roles. The setting of the deserts of the Sudan is brilliant used in the film. The battle scenes aren't overdone and are emotionally charged. The film surprised me, with having such a great story, great acting, and great filming, I was disappointed to see it didn't get better from the critics and public.

Take my word for it, The Four Feathers is a worth see adventure/drama.

The Four Feathers. Starring: Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou, and Kate Hudson.

3 1/2 out of 5 Stars.
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2/10
historically unconvincing...
aldebaran681 January 2007
I gave it 2 for some attempt at historical detail... To echo another reviewer, all the actors behave as in the 20th/21st centuries, not the Victorian 19th. The actors behave far too freely and with hardly any attempt at the formal dignity, stiff social restraint of the time, and no apparent attempt to represent the social mores and customs of the era. Watch the original version with Ralph Richardson to see what I'm driving at.

Or watch Zulu, Zulu Dawn, or Charge of the Light Brigade for more authentic historical recreation of how people were in those days.

The battle scenes in this version may have been 'fierce', but the pacing was far too 20th-21century. Even warfare was a more 'formal' and 'dignified' affair then than it is today. It took the First World War to change that.

IF you want 20th-21st century romance and military heroics transposed to the 19th century, this film is OK, for anything more historically 'real', best look elsewhere...
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3/10
The Four Feathers
albirmike18 July 2005
I have read with interest various comments from your members and can only think that they have not seen the 1939 version of this film. I am sorry to say I cannot find one redeeming feature; there is no continuity, the characters have no substance whatsoever, I could not tell one from another. When the character 'Abou'was introduced,(why I don't know), he became the hero as far as I was concerned and 'Harry Faversham' faded from pallidity to obscurity! I know the voting results are not necessarily a true indicator of a films quality, but the difference in the mark up of this version compared to the 1939 issue gives, in my opinion a true guide in this instance. I urge all who have not seen the early film to make every effort to do so, I think many would then change their minds about Messrs.Heath Ledger et al
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1/10
This thing is a MESS. See the 1939 version for a GREAT film!
DN-104 March 2003
Bad camera work only adds to this this films problems. The story rambles, for some reason they changed the war to the first war in the Sudan but you never see General Gordon. The British are made to look like the bad guys but it's never pointed out that the Mahdi was involved in the slave trade.I guess they wanted to save the money it would have cost to stage the battle of Omdurman to do the correct war. Get the 1939 version for a GREAT film.
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Underrated and is better than what the reviews says
8Jojo825 April 2004
This movie has got it all: an aussie hottie, love, honor and obey, different cultures and is well acted. I can't understand why this movie has blown the box office with so much, and why all the reviewers have slaughtered it.

Heath Ledger plays well (as always), and of course Kate Hudson is beautiful in it. If I would have anything to complain about in this picture, it would be that maybe the chemistry between Heath and Kate wasn't that great, but nobody is to blame here.

This is a fabulous movie with great and good looking actors, and if I should have guessed why the movie didn't sell, I would say that it was because they didn't promote this movie enough.

While watching the movie, you can go from crying to laughing at no time, and when a movie conquers that, it's just a blessing watching it.

Heath Ledger can really show what he has got to offer, since this movie is very different from his last "A Knight's Tale". Heath is clever by taking such different roles, just to show what he's got: "Two Hands" (black comedy),"The Patriot" (war, thriller), "Ned Kelly" (western, thriller), "The Order" (horror, mystery) and his most recently, not yet relished: "The Brothers Grimm" (adventure).

The director, Shekhar Kapur, did a good job on this one. He told the actors to make the sand in the desert to look like water and waves, and they did a good job doing just that. All in all, this movie should been a success, because it simply has it all. Too bad.
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3/10
A pale shadow of the original
Ben-1338 October 2002
I was looking forward to an epic journey that fleshed out and brought up to date (movie-wise) the 1939 version. It was terrible. It should have been made in the 60's in cinema-scope and lasted for 33 hours, but what we got was a dumbed down version that didn't even hit all the plot points successfully. The characters were indistinct and couldn't be told apart. I was shocked at the nonchalance at which the fourth feather was exchanged. It should have been the last straw that made the main character face his fears and the punch at the end that restored him, but instead it is an afterthought. In short, I was very disappointed.
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3/10
Nearly as bad as Pearl Harbor
morrowmmm7 April 2003
If you have seen the 1939 version of this film do NOT see this. Astoudingly boring with quite awful script but some of the filming is spectacular especially when thinking of all the millions going down the tube. This film attempted to portray the essence of the upper class English society and fails. Overblown and very Monty Pythonish with ludicrous script which would make that era turn in the grave. Kate Hudson flickering from Estuary English, sometimes near but never there.
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2/10
Has anyone seen the original?
Dan Russell1 February 2008
I watched this movie again out of homage to Heath Ledger. I still lament the death of this fine young actor. I trust he would have appreciated anyone sitting through this movie out of respect for him. I also trust that anyone who has seen the original Zoltan Korda's "The Four Feathers" (1939) will concur that this movie does not hold a candle to the original. NOT IN ANY SHAPE MANNER NOR FORM! So, in brief, please watch the 1939 film. You will be amazed at the difference, the grandeur, the historicity, the inspired acting, and the coherent plot. All this and more is lacking in the 2002 version. (I apologize for the harshness of my review to the fans of this movie. But, trust me, if you see the earlier version, you'll see where I'm coming from.)
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7/10
Slightly too studied in parts, but on the whole a worthwhile remake of A.E.W Mason's novel.
Jonathon Dabell2 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The 1939 version of The Four Feathers remains one of the best movies ever made, even 70 years on from its release. It seems strange that this particular story should see cinematic light once again in 2002 – grand, colonial adventures of this kind don't seem to get made very often these days. Having said that, a director as innovative as Shekhar Kapur (of "Bandit Queen" and "Elizabeth") should ensure the film has the potential to approach its oft-told story from a few fresh angles. Kapur's slant on the story is visually breathtaking and has by far the most realistic battle sequences of any version made so far. But it also feels excessively studied and serious at times, with an occasionally unclear narrative and too many international actors trying (only partially successfully) to pull off upper class English accents. The end product is still a good film, but you can sense that somewhere inside there's an outstanding film trying to get out.

Men of the Royal Cumbrian regiment are told that they will be heading off to the Sudan to fight the armies of the Mahdi, a self-proclaimed religious leader whose disciples have slaughtered many British soldiers. The men of the regiment seem thrilled at the opportunity to go to war, but one soldier named Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) finds himself questioning whether or not he feels passionately enough about Queen and country to give his life in their name. On the eve of departure, Harry resigns his commission much to the anger of his friends and family. Three of his closest friends – Willoughby (Rupert Penry-Jones), Castleton (Kris Marshall) and Trench (Michael Sheen) – are so offended that they send him three white feathers as a symbol of his cowardice. A fourth feather is later added by his fiancée Ethne (Kate Hudson), who breaks off her relationship with him. Ironically, the person with the greatest right to feel disgust towards Harry - his best friend Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley) - is the only one who doesn't send a feather of cowardice. Harry soon begins to feel personal shame for his actions, so he sails to the Sudan and disguises himself as a Sudanese fighter, blending in amongst the Mahdi's army at tremendous personal risk. He performs acts of incredible heroism, and saves several of his former friends' lives. In returning the feathers to each of them in turn, he restores honour to his name.

The book of The Four Feathers is a story which has been continually in print for a hundred years. Books which retain their popularity for that kind of time are invariably good, solid stories which somehow strike a chord with audiences and become part of a wider literary heritage. It is to this film's credit that it sticks to the original quite closely, fashioning a tale that explores lots of fundamental themes such as personal honour, rebuilding broken trust, believing in a cause and finding unexpected courage within. Anyone can relate to these ideas, and The Four Feathers taps into them effectively and presents us with a story which has us asking ourselves what we would do in Harry's position or, indeed, in Ethne or Jack's position. While it never really matches the 1939 version – which was cast, acted, paced and scripted virtually to perfection – Shekhar Kapur's remake remains a worthwhile re-run of the oft-told material.
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7/10
Despite what all the critics say, I must admit that I liked it.
I've always been a fan of historically inspired epic movies and although I'm not a fan of costume drama's, I don't really care about the time period these movies are set in. This one has been set at the end of the 19th century, a time period that comes close to the one that I like most in the movies (1914-1950), but even movies set in medieval, Greek and Roman times I can enjoy...

As I already said, this movie has been set at the end of the 19th century, in 1898 to be more precise. When a British officer is about to be sent to Sudan to fight a war he doesn't approve of, he is seen as a coward. He has to resign his post, right before his regiment ships out to battle the rebels, and to make things even worse for him, he receives four white feathers from his friends and his fiancée. These feathers symbolize how they feel about him, they see him as a coward, but what they don't know is that he plans to go to Sudan anyway, undercover, so he can save his friends from a certain death and redeem his honor...

The story certainly is interesting and offers an interesting approach to a story that has been told many times before. But what I liked even more than the story was the photography. Everything was portrayed in a very nice way, especially when they are in Sudan. I'm not saying that the part of the movie showing England isn't any good, but I'm not too much a fan of those Victorian costumes and habits. I prefer the dust and dirt from the desert and the battles in which good manors only come later and the true human nature gets the upper hand.

Even though many people seem to hate this movie, I can't join them in their opinion. All actors did a nice job and even though it is perhaps true that they could have found a better actress than Kate Hudson to play the role of Ethne, it never bothered me in such a way that it spoiled all the rest of my fun. And about the historical accuracy I can be brief as well. It looked good enough to me to be believable. Perhaps there were some minor details that weren't right, but since I'm not too familiar with the time period shown in this movie, I certainly didn't notice them. Anyway, I liked what I saw and even though many people gave it a bad review, I certainly liked it for what it was: A very decent movie about honor, freedom, friendship,... I know that these words are too often abused in many Hollywood movies, but this time it worked for me and that's why I give this movie a 7.5/10.
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1/10
Victorian officer redeems his place in society by playing the hero
jdlevene1 January 2007
I have seen a number of versions of this film from the original to present day. This was undoubtedly the worst. It completely lacks the finesse of the earlier versions, there are few action scenes which lack excitement, and the rest of the film is slow, tedious. Utterly boring!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whilst the film is supposed to be about English gentlemen, none of the actors properly fill the role, and the representation of Victorian society is sorely lacking. Again a comparison with the earlier versions is inevitable. The music is good, and it seems that many of the scenes concentrate on the music rather than anything else, with long moments of nothing but music, when there should be action.
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1/10
Read a history book before you make a movie...
i_ron_d_uke5 October 2002
This film has very little to do with the novel on which it claims to be based. Historically it is highly inaccurate. To take one example of a good many, no British soldier wore a red jacket on active service in 1898. The last time the British Army wore red in action was in 1885 & it was unusual then. The Mahdist ansar became a very nasty type fanatic & killed many, many thousands of their own people. This is much the worst of an often remade story.
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1/10
Terrible movie. Waste of time.
pogoman17 February 2003
This movie is really bad. It is way long and there's no action on it. This movie was super boring. Towards the end of the movie I wanted every character to die already. What a waste of production. The plot is super weak. Go rent Braveheart instead.
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2/10
Forget this version, see the 1939 one instead
Michael19584 March 2003
This film had so much promise, the story is one full of romance, action, honor and so forth. The 1939 version is fabulous, just one problem, it isn't politically correct. However, the action is better and the story is more believable. In 2002, it seems near impossible to make an old fashioned adventure film about the British Army putting down whacked out religious fanatics in The Sudan in the 1800's. That isn't the whole story, to tell you more would give it away. Trust me on this one,the 1939 version is better-it does not have any political correctness to it. The battle scenes are great and for those who champion the little guy, the British Army still get's it's butt kicked in a couple scenes, so see-it will make the feeling guilty PC Anglo feel like there is some justice in the world. Forget the last remark-see the film for some old time adventure in the movies, not the 2002, the 1939 one. Enjoy.
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1/10
Very poorly done
nealrcrowley23 September 2002
This is a terrible movie. Some of the battle scenes were good but the rest was awful. The movie made no attempt at all to put the events surrounding the Mahdi's rebellion against the Egyptians and the resulting British intervention in context. Given the Mahdi's close resemblance to bin Lauden the movie could easily have drawn obvious conclusions about Islamic fanaticism. This would have been politically incorrect however, and this movie is poster child for political correctness. The heroes are all third world types. The British officers are presented in so shallow a way it is impossible to care what happens to them. I couldn't wait for this loser to end.
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1/10
Amazingly bad.
grahamvstevens30 January 2004
The story as told in this movie made almost no sense. I have seen the original (1939) and it made sense, and one cared for the characters. I wanted all of the characters in this 2002 movie to die, but unfortunately they didn't. Whoever cast Kate Hudson was an idiot. How could the director spend so much money and come up with this stinker. Didn't anyone at the studio watch this thing before it was released to an unsuspecting public? ABSOLUTE CRAP.
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1/10
A truly awful remake
nebbs18 March 2003
I think that this must be the worst remake that I have ever seen, and by far the worst version of The Four Feathers. Badly paced, politically correct in a setting during which that term was irrelevant, and an outward display of bitter, onanistic self-righteousness from a director obviously battling his own demons. An exciting story sanitised and stripped of all spirit. Clearly the wrong material in the wrong hands.
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1/10
The fall
JconsultJC14 May 2005
Shekhar Kapur has dazzled us with his splendid Elizabeth with his new style to show historical films. And then we see his next production "the four feathers".

As a Frenchman, I know little about the British history. Of course, I know that the Britons have gone to war every where in the world where they could get hold of the local resources and that many times they met the French whom they beat generally, including in Sudan with the Fachoda episode.

In this film where love and courage are supposed to be the main pillars, we witness an incredible story where British soldiers can refuse to go to war when told to, where love goes up and down as the temperature, depending on the environment, where a local Sudanese man (as a magic lamp - Djimon Hounsou) helps the British soldiers for no known reason (maybe for love?) to fight against his own kind, where a man (a British man! Of course) survives in the African desert, during many days, without neither food nor water.

The images are good and the performance of the camera may be seen without any discretion. But is it enough to produce a good film?

In a country still at war today, where living conditions are incredibly hard, it is difficult to accept this historical romance. Nothing seems real, not even the poor Sudanese people. It is not worth spending more than 2 hours to see Kate Hudson performing so poorly
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1/10
The biggest dissapointment of 2002
zphoenix35 October 2002
Being a huge fan of Heath Ledger I was very excited for this movie. I recently caught the feature length film about a mid nineteenth century british officer's choice to leave his squadron in cowardace and later engage in a transformation to become a true hero. Unfortunately, I would have rather caught that single-sentence summation. From the beginning the story is told in a wide area, fragmented fashion. The audience only sees about 50 percent of the total story in each scene. Had the movie been about 4 hours long it would have my high recommendation. Each of the actors delivers excellent performances; the low quality of the movie is from a shear lack of complete story-telling. Save your seven dollars, go out to Denny's for dinner instead of wasting your hard earned cash on this pile of crap.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 10

Quick review: There are many other things to spend seven dollars on, like bad food at a good price. ~Josh
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