Movie Review: The Four Feathers

‘The Four Feathers’ is a 2002 action film set during a 1880s British army expedition into Sudan.

Based on a 1902 adventure novel of the same name, this is the 7th cinematic version – and truthfully didn’t bring a particularly new viewpoint on British colonialism, despite being directed by Indian Director, Shekhar Kapur (‘Elizabeth’, ‘The Bandit Queen’).


Kapur received harsh criticism for being anti-British by the British tabloids, to which Kapur responded ‘I’m not anti-British, I’m anti-colonialism’.


The movie features Heath Ledger as British officer, Harry Faversham, who desserts his regiment on the eave of their shipping out to battle in the Sudan (earning him the ‘four feathers’ for cowardice). Also starring alongside Ledger is Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson, and Djimon Hounsou.

Given that none of the three main British characters are actually played by British actors – it is a little noticeable at times.

Their accents are passable, but in particular, the slouchy, Aussie body language of Ledger created a disconnect from his character. I will also note that there was something going on with his hair – and at times his overly-modern hairstyle felt like i was watching a Twilight episode.


In a frustrating piece of plot, Hounsou (Abou) plays the ‘best buddy’ – but not the hero. Although Ledger (Faversham) enters the dessert frighteningly ill-equipped, he somehow ends up commanding Abou, who’ s a skilled desert warrior and who out-runs and out-performs Haversham at every turn.


With stunning vistas, epic battle scenes and ‘those red uniforms’, the film is beautifully shot by Robert Richardson (who has won Oscars for ‘JFK’, ‘Hugo’ and ‘The Aviator’).


It’s not a film I’ll likely watch twice, but it’s a decent film that you’ll enjoy if you can simply go along for the ride and overlook some of the glaring plot frustrations.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you:


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