Four Feathers, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -1

Based on A. E. W. Masons novel set in Victorian England of the late 1800s, this story was first filmed in 1939, then again for TV in 1978. Already favored to become a classic, this current remake stars Heath Ledger as young, handsome British Lieutenant Harry Faversham, newly engaged to Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson). When Harry, a reluctant soldier trying to please his military father, hears his regiment is being sent to fight in the Sudanese desert, he resigns from the army. Unable to voice his motives, Harrys act disgraces his father and shocks not only his comrades, but Ethne as well. She and three of his fellow soldiers each give Harry a white feather, symbolizing cowardice. To redeem himself and prove his bravery, if only to himself, Harry finds his way to Sudan, determined to save lives of his best friend Lt. Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley) and fellow soldiers. Disguising himself as a desert Bedouin, Harrys quest for redemption puts him in far greater danger than he ever imagined. Relentless, large and small-scale battle scenes, depicting the horror of war and imprisonment, could overpower the poignant love story and gorgeous photography for some. But this epic story of loyalty and discovering courage will inspire many.

Released as our country polices terrorist groups in Afghanistan and borders on the brink of war in desert Iraq, THE FOUR FEATHERS could be seen as a powerful anti-war statement. One might even question the timing for a story of a Christian British army battling Muslim extremists. At the height of their empires expansion, the British are portrayed as arrogant imperialists and the patriotic young officers as hungry for battle when they learn of the attack on the British fortress at Khartoum. But in their British pride, the soldiers know little about the desert tribes rebelling against British aggression. Bloody, gory battles as scimitars and bayonets are wielded against one another, scattered bodies of massacred armies, dead bodies thrown in open pits, wild dogs eating dying and dead soldiers, cadavers stripped of their uniforms and worn by the enemy all make this movie seem extremely violent at times. But much of the violence is seen from a distant and even gruesome deaths by hacking swords and stabbing bayonets are relatively bloodless. Hiring a supplier of prostitutes as guide, naive Harry finds himself alone and lost in the desert when the sex slaves kill their captor. Dying of thirst, he pierces his camels neck and tries to drink the gushing blood. A mysterious stranger, Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), a black giant of a man both physically and spiritually, appears out of nowhere to become Harrys savior, stating that God put Harry in his way. Along with soldiers praying to God for favor, and one soldier nicknamed Vicar for his prayers, Gods providence of help underlies much of the story. Themes of redemption, sacrificial loyalty, and loving those who wound you, sound loudly in Harrys efforts. Reflecting its Victorian setting, THE FOUR FEATHERS has little objectionable language or sexual content. However, an obscured scene strongly implies a Sudanese prostitute has sex with a fellow prisoner in a dark cave. And bare male rears are briefly scene in the soldiers locker room after a brutal rugby match. The horrendous battles and graphic beatings seem more intense than necessary but without some brief sexual content and more gruesome scenes of warfare, this adaptation of a historical novel could be recommended for older teens and adults.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking and Mary Draughon
Paramount Pictures, 5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times - British bloody

Obscene Language: Once possible F-word slurred

Profanity: Once Regular (G-sake)

Violence: Many times Moderate and severe (brutal hits and tackles in rugby match, intense/ graphic battle scenes with sword hackings and bayonet stabbings, man hit w/ heavy rock off screen, shootings, whipping torture, hanging bodies, dogs chewing on cadavers, beatings, man falls off camel/ dragged across desert, man stabs camel to drink blood, dead bodies tossed/ piled in trench, man stabbed with animal bone)

Sex: Implied once (obscured scene of prostitute in cave)

Nudity: Once (brief male rear in shower scene)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (engaged couple kiss passionately)

Drugs: Once (prisoners take poison to fake death)

Other: Possible anti-war theme; themes of redemption, discovering self/ courage, sacrificial loyalty and loving those who hurt you

Running Time: 127 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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