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The Four Feathers in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Four Feathers

Heath Ledger • Wes Bentley • Kate Hudson
• Djimon Hounson
DIRECTOR: Shekhar Kapur

Prepare to Die… THE CONCEPT:
Resigning his commission the night before his regiment goes to war, Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is sent four feathers, a symbol of cowardice. One from his fiancé, Ethne (Kate Hudson). When Harry finds that his regiment is under attack, he travels to Africa to save them.

U.S. RELEASE: September 20 2002 • Rated: PG-13


“When people talk about this film, they talk about Lawrence of Arabia in terms of scale. But that had two years in the making, and we had three months. So the challenge was to get it all in three months. We had rain storms that not only washed away our sets, they washed away the landscape. And we were hit by dust storms. We were told to save ourselves, but I shot in them. When you go on location to shoot, there’s a certain aspect of the elements that changes the way you are and the way you make the film. We went out on an adventure to shoot an adventure.”

“Feversham had an identity crisis because he’s been spoon fed his identity from an early age growing up in a very systematic, regimental environment with all these expectations to become his father. Then, he’s confronted with the reality of this and it completely stumps him. He suddenly realizes he has no idea who he is. He brings up all these questions that he doesn’t have the answer to, and he acts upon it, and everyone calls him a coward for it, and he starts to believe it too. But, standing up for what he believes in and his instincts was the most courageous thing he did. Had he gone to war with those feeling and thoughts, then that would have been cowardly.”

“My character, Abou Fatma, says to Feversham, ‘God put you in my way, and I had no choice.’ In reality, I’m his guardian angel, so as his guardian angel I’m basically his shadow, whatever his journey is I’m also on that journey. A man of spirit today is not necessarily defined by a religion. If I’m alive today it’s because I’ve had a few guardian angels.”

SHEKHAR KAPUR on Heath’s stunt of jumping onto a moving horse during a battle sequence:
“We didn’t tell anybody that he was going to do it, because they would not have let us. Heath said, ‘I think I can do it,’ and I said, ‘Heath, you will die.’ We had just shot (a philosophical) scene with Djimon, and Heath looked me straight in the eyes, and put his hand on my shoulder, and said, ‘I will die if it’s God’s will, right?’ So there I was talking about this great Eastern destiny philosophy to my actors, and now he might kill himself.”

“The producers didn’t know I did the stunt, because they wouldn’t let me ride a bicycle much less jump on a running horse. But the stunt supervisor took me through it and I practiced on the ground. It’s a lot harder when the horse isn’t running, because it’s the momentum of the ground moving out from beneath your feet that kicks your legs up in the air. But we did the shot and they wouldn’t let me do it again.”

“When I do research for a movie I’m only seeing it through somebody else’s eyes, so whoever is telling me that the time was like this and that, I’m only reading it through their point-of-view. One of my greatest things is trying to get away from research, and the desert allows you that freedom to get away from any preconceived ideas people have of you, or what limitations you put on yourself – you’ve got to get rid of all that. It’s the closest thing to being free for me, so maybe that is to be an angel.”

“At its core, this is a film about boys going to war and becoming men. It’s about the transition from the naïve certainties of boyhood to the acknowledgment of doubt, and finally to the self-awareness of manhood.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #623, October 2002 cover

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