The Four Feathers
Posted by martinteller on February 5, 2012
I went into this with little enthusiasm. Not that I had any particular misgivings about it, but it was just one of those “Well, Criterion released it so I guess I’ll give it a shot” movies to me. Now, plenty of films have started out from this position and won me over. In this case, I was pretty underwhelmed throughout. It’s a decent adventure tale with some light social commentary. The scenes of John Clements cleverly coming to the aid of his friends were somewhat intriguing, especially when it’s him and Ralph Richardson (the best performance in the cast) in the desert. The battle scenes are occasionally impressive, but sometimes repetitive. The Technicolor is used well, very natural without drawing too much attention to itself. Nice Rozsa score as well. I just didn’t care all that much about what was going on, and found my sympathies wavering.
You could say the film’s attitudes about “courage” and “honor” are complex, or you could say they send mixed messages. I could make a case either way. But I liked when these notions were being subverted, and I didn’t like when they were being glorified. Give me the Americanization of Emily stance on courage and honor any day. Likewise, the film seems to give lip service to the idea that maybe all this bloodthirsty imperialism isn’t the coolest thing, but ultimately seems to fall in favor of it. The cultural stereotypes are in general not horrendously offensive, although no one seems to care much about the native people.
Overall I didn’t struggle to get through it or anything, but I wasn’t all that interested either. Rating: Fair