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The Four Feathers

The Four Feathers

The Four Feathers is a sweeping adventure and love story crafted in the spirit of Lawrence of Arabia which may generate interest in light of tensions brewing in the Middle East.

Director Shekhar Kapur who excelled with Elizabeth, stages battle sequences with precision as the desert glistens under his work with cinematographer Robert Richardson.  Yet, this late 19th Century tale lacks the coherence that should come from the adapted novel by A.E.W. Mason.

The title refers to the mark of cowardness branded on Harry (Heath Ledger of The Patriot) who is in the British Army in 1884.  The British Empire had to send several regiments to the Sudan when an uprising occurred, along with Harry is Jack Durrance who is another Lieutenant in the Royal Cumbrian Regiment.

There is a love triangle in place set into the screenplay by Michael Schiffer and Hossein Amini.  The lovely Ethne (Kate Hudson) is engaged to Harry, but Jack secretly pines for her while maintaining loyalty to his friend Harry.

When Harry is sent into battle along with Jack he feels impelled to leave the Royal Cumbrians.  He is then looked upon sadly by his fiancee and three solders who give him four feathers for being a coward.  Harry eventually needs to rid himself of the guilt which burns inside of him and sets out on a perilous journey to the Sudan.  While seeking redemption he is joined by Abou, a native of Sudan, well played by Djimon Hounsou of Amistad, who aids Harry on his journey to war.

At first, The Four Feathers would seem to be showing a route against the typical war afflictions on the incumbent soldier.  But Her Majesty's finest sacrificing themselves in the Sudan takes a certain moral viewpoint resulting in a crucible that is essential to atone for the smeared reputation.  It's about being on the lines with your regiment and Kapur's film becomes action oriented without narrative depth.

Kapur isn't as adroit in blending the story and conflicts on the beautiful arid landscapes as other esteemed directors like Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott have done it recent years.  The Four Feathers is at times a visually grand experience, but it's too marginal otherwise.  The actors just can't do much with their roles and the exposition never comes to fruition.

The Four Feathers

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