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The Four Feathers (15)

Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two


SET in 1884, a time when honour was everything, this sixth remake of A.E.W. Mason's novel of the same name, directed by Shekar Kapur (Elizabeth), provides a good, old-fashioned heroic adventure.

Harry (Heath Ledger) is one of the finest and most respected British soldiers in the army, with a beautiful fiance, Ethne (Kate Hudson), that is until being told his regiment is to go to Sudan to fight the Mahdi revolt.

Harry is terrified at the prospect of war, and decides to leave the army. He then finds himself ostracised from family, army friends and the socially embarrassed Ethne.

Even best friend, Durrance (Wes Bentley), feels betrayed by Harry.

He is sent four feathers, a humiliating sign of cowardice, from those closest to him, and with nothing to lose sets off for the Sudan to confront his fears and return each feather.

While crossing the desert, Harry is befriended by Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), who suggests he will last longer if he looks more Arabic and then regularly saves his life.

This loyal friendship between two very different characters provides a stark contrast to the army friendships, whose loyalties lye with duty.

Harry's journey is long and perilous, but his determination to help his old colleagues, and prove he is not a coward, drives him on.

He becomes a slave to spy on the Madhi supporters, so he may warn the British of any danger, but their prejudices prevent them from being saved.

Whereas today, we question our military presence in other countries, during the British Empire, it was assumed we had a right to be there.

The naivete of the soldiers heading off to war is very moving, as we now know the horrors of conflict and what they were marching into.

Director of photography, Robert Richardson, is the reason not to miss this version of The Four Feathers in the cinema.

Shots of the desert are breathtaking, while the battle scenes are also wonderfully portrayed, depicting the stark isolation the soldiers faced being massacred.

This, plus some powerful supporting performances, overshadows the inexcusably dodgy English accents from some of the cast.

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