The Four Feathers

  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A decent film with some intense battle violence.
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 130 minutes





What parents need to know


Intense and explicit peril and battle violence.


None-graphic sexual situation; women stolen and forced into prostitution.



Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking and smoking

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has intense battle violence with graphic injuries. Characters are wounded and killed. There's brief nudity in a locker room and a non-explicit sexual situation. The portrayal of non-whites is less offensive than in previous versions of the story but still reflects the prejudices of the era. The enemy is referred to as "an army of Mohammedan fanatics" and "heathens," and the English think they must win because they have "nobler souls."

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In what is at least the fifth filmed version of THE FOUR FEATHERS, a soldier ordered to war resigns his commission. He has just become engaged to a girl he adores and the concerns of a battle on the other side of the world do not seem important to him. His friends and his fiancée send him four white feathers, accusing him of cowardice, and he fears they may be right. So he disguises himself as a native and follows his former regiment to the Sudan. He will not risk his life for the honor of his country, but he will risk it to protect his friends and to prove that they were wrong about him. This time, Heath Ledger plays Harry Faversham, the reluctant soldier, with Wes Bentley as his best friend, Jack, and Kate Hudson as Ethne, the woman they both love.

Is it any good?


Director Shekhar Kapur stages the pageantry very well, from the scenes of red-coated officers swirling their ladies around the dance floor to the marches, battles, and prison scenes. He does fairly well by his young stars. Their British accents may falter, but he knows how to work around their weaknesses and play to their strengths, especially Ledger's athletic charm, Hudson's delicate dignity, and Bentley's ability to combine strength and sensitivity.

Kapur is less sure of himself in handling the very traditional structure of the story and there are some oddly disjointed transitions that undermine what should be the most dramatic moments.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie's plot relates to current concerns about terrorism and the possibility of war. Both sides think that they are doing what God wants them to do. Is there any way to prevent war under those conditions? The director is originally from India. How do you think that affects his portrayal of an era in which British officers referred to non-whites as "wogs" and "heathens?"

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 20, 2002
DVD release date:February 18, 2003
Cast:Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, Wes Bentley
Director:Shekhar Kapur
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence and some sexual references

This review of The Four Feathers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byboone county April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Dramatic But Sorrowful Adventure

Adult Written byJegodby April 9, 2008
Teen, 17 years old Written byjcsoblonde April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

would have been good...

This would have been a pretty good movie but it had a sex scene so I had to turn it off. And I could tell that it was going to have the "triangle" in it anyways which I always find yeah...there are lots of other movies out there that are much better.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide