The Four Feathers

DirectorDon Sharp
Running Time100 mins
StarringBeau Bridges
Jane Seymour
Robert Powell
Simon Ward


This is a remake a very famous movie from the 1930's. The story revolves around an act of cowardice made by an officer of a British regiment. The son of a soldier, the hero of this film does not wish to follow in the austere footsteps of his father. His attempt to leave the regiment just as it is being called up to fight in the Sudan is recognised by the other officers as being a sign of cowardice. They each give him a white feather in honour of his 'cowardice'. The rest of the film is made up of our hero going to inordinate lengths to redeem his honour. He follows his regiment to Egypt and the Sudan and shadows his brother officers. When they fall in to trouble, he rides to the rescue. It has to be said that I don't think that modern audiences would be so compelled by a storyline that is so closely bound to a code of ethics based on honour. A couple of World Wars and countless smaller ones have beaten such principles in to the ground. Two or three generations ago, the audiences would have lapped up this storyline. Nowadays, I think that they would feel cold and removed from the world that is portrayed in this film. What was a classic storyline would now seem to many people a cliched and hackneyed tale.

There are some excellent action scenes in the film. The British square being attacked by the Dervishes is particularly well done. But, in many other scenes the film seems strangely antiquated. The camera work makes the film seem like a typical 1970's film. The zooms and focusing efforts remind you of a hundred films from that decade. The music is equally revealing. In fact in ways the film feels older than it really should. Sometimes this helps the film along, other times it hinders it.

The performances of the major actors are quite variable as well. Beau Bridges plays the central character, but it seems as if he is spending his whole time attempting to become more British than the British. His accent is so clipped that he sounds just like a CD that is jumping in its player. His posture seems ridiculously straight - even during romantic interludes. He overplays the stereotype and loses believability as a result. Jane Seymour is a little more convincing in the obligatory romantic angle. And, the other officers are all played confidently by actors who have played similar roles on hundreds of occaisions. A decently played hero could really have turned this film around. As it is, I am afraid to say that this film is at best an average remake of a classic imperial story.

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by Stephen Luscombe