The Four Feathers

Harry Faversham: Heath Ledger
Lt. Jack Durrance: Wes Bentley
Ethne Eustace: Kate Hudson
Abou Fatma: Djimon Hounsou
Trench: Michael Sheen

Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Shekhar Kapur. Written by Michael Schiffer and Hossein Amini. Based on the novel by A.E.W. Mason. The story has been adapted six previous times in film and once for TV (Ebert claims the classic is the 1939 version, with Ralph Richardson and C. Aubrey Smith). Running time: 127 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense battle sequences, disturbing images, violence and some sensuality).

Central Theme
Bravery inspired by loyal and enduring friendships can replace personal fear with valor and honor.

Harry enters the military reluctantly as the son of a decorated British commander. When this fluke of familial trajectory means going to Sudan (in the late 1800’s) where he might lose his life, Harry betrays his heritage and abandons the military. Three fellow military men and his fiancé acknowledge his cowardice when each sends him a feather symbolizing his betrayal. Only his friend Jack refuses to believe Harry will betray his friends.

Disowned by his father and shamed by his fiancé, Harry realizes he will only and always be known as a coward. Wishing to redeem himself he goes to Sudan and shadows his former regiment, disguised as an Arab and aided by a wise and noble desert prince Abou Fatma. Abou Fatma shows Harry a bravery born of loyalty that Harry then displays for his friends. Abou Fatma also brings a spiritual dimension to the friendship-he serves Harry because ¢â‚¬ËœGod has put you in my way.’

His courage is quickly tested as Harry is conscripted as an opponent of the British. As the British are decimated he saves two of the three who sent him feathers and anonymously saves Jack, who has been blinded in combat and does not know the identity of his rescuer. Jack returns home while Harry remains in Sudan to rescue yet another of his “feather sending friends.” In Harry’s absence his fiancé Ethne has turned to Jack for consolation, and believing Harry to be dead, resigns herself to marrying her second choice, Jack.

A dramatic story of redemption and restoration. There is an undeveloped theme of God’s role in war and the warrior. Whose side is God on? What is the significance of both sides praying before entering a conflict only one can win? Why is Abou’s spiritual life so real and governing in his life while Harry’s Christian spirituality so insipid?

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Who has God put in your way and for what purpose?
–What is the source of loyalty? Bravery?
–What quiets fear and replaces it with bravery?
–In war: Whose side is God on? What is the significance of both sides praying before entering a conflict only one can win?

Provocative Quotes byline
–An office who gave his life for his country deserves far more respect than I do.
==Harry’s father to a widow of a slain soldier.
–Jack will never get married; he’s too much of a soldier.
==One of Jack’s friends before they leave for Sudan.
–There is only one sacrifice nobler than sacrificing one’s self for their country; that is marrying a man who does.
==Harry’s father announcing the engagement of Harry and Ethne.
–Congratulations. This government has finally decided to send it’s soldiers to war.
==Commander announcing the Sudanese venture.
–I suppose I’m going because you are going. There is no one I’d sooner trust my life with. You’re all that matters.
==Jack to Harry.
–It has nothing to do with you. I never wanted to join the Army; I did it for my father.
==Harry explaining to Ethne why he is resigning.
–I don’t know you.
==Harry’s father when learning his son has resigned.
–When something like this happens, you are lost. Unless I do something, this is how people will remember me. A feather. And others will think of me as a coward. All I know is I can’t live with myself.
==Harry realizing the impact of his decision to resign.
–They have no concept of loyalty. You British don’t understand. You try to civilize them with your Christian values.
==Slave trader to Harry in Sudan.
–We are watching you. I am a good soldier. I will protect us.
== Abou Fatma to Harry when they first speak.
–I found you half dead crossing the desert alone and you say you are afraid?
==Abou Fatma when Harry admits his fears.
–God put you in my way. I have no choice. God.
== Abou Fatma explains why he is helping Harry.
–I can’t see. Who are you? I can’t see?
==Jack when Harry anonymously saves his life.
–I sent a man to warn you and he was rewarded with pain.
==Harry frustrated that About Fatma was beaten by British when trying to warn them of danger,
–The shame is no longer yours. You are responsible to God and yourself.
==Abou Fatma to Harry who has saved his friends lives.
–You English walk to proudly on the earth, you are a fool my friend.
== Abou Fatma to Harry.
–Pray for me. Take as long as you like.
==Harry to Abou Fatma.
–Whatever God has chosen for me.
== Abou Fatma when Harry asks what he will do next.
–Everyone said how much you had changed. I didn’t believe them. May I have it back?
==Ethne reunited with Harry and asking for her feather of cowardice back.
–Everyone was applauding me and she was staring at you. Nothing has changed.
==Jack withdraws from the relationship with Ethne so she can be with Harry.
— You may be lost but you are not forgotten. The soldier’s greatest comfort is to have his friends close at hand. In the heat of battle it ceases to be an idea or a flag for which we fight. Rather we fight for the man on our right or left. When the years fall away all that remains are the memories of those precious moments we spent side by side.
==Harry’s father’s tribute to soldiers who have returned and those who lost their lives.
–And now I have no choice Ethne. God put you in my way.
==Harry to Ethne on why he stays with her.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in September 20, 2002 by | No Comments »

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