ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

The Four Feathers (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: Ocotber 6, 2002
CAP Score: 73
CAP Influence Density: 0.67

MinMax: -100

The Four Feathers (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

THE FOUR FEATHERS (PG-13) -- How much more proof ... do we need?

Production: Belhaven Limited
Distribution: Miramax Films, Paramount Pictures
Director(s): Shekhar Kapur
Producer(s): Laurie Borg, Paul Feldsher, Paul Feldsher, Julie Goldstein, Robert Jaffe, Stanley R. Jaffe, Marty Katz, Allon Reich
Written by/Screenplay: A.E.W. Mason (novel), Michael Schiffer (screenplay), Hossein Amini
Cinematography/Camera: Robert Richardson
Music: James Horner
Film Editing: Steven Rosenblum
Casting: John Hubbard, Ros Hubbard
Production Design: Allan Cameron
Art Direction: Keith Pain

No foul language, not even God's name in vain with or without the four letter expletive. But locker room nudity and intercourse without nudity were noted. And incredibly saturated with violence. A very unusual distribution of ignominy for a PG-13.

For me, The Four Feathers was boring and a Hollywood lesson in British life of the period. Little more. There certainly were attempts at depicting courage, loyalty, bravery and romance. But there was also portrayal of cowardice suspected of being disguised as true convictions of not believing in war enough to dodge it. Indeed, Lt. Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) resigned his commission when confronted with breech-loaded, bayonet and cannonball war for the first time. Four of his friends, three fellow officers and his fiance, each gave Faversham a white feather as a gesture of condemnation of him for his cowardice.

Lt. Faversham's fiance, Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson) is the daughter of a Colonel and Lt. Faversham is the son of the General (Tim Pigott-Smith) - a marriage destined for greatness but ... Ethne found it difficult to embrace a man who has been labeled a coward. Though labeled a coward, Faversham may have been sincere in his convictions as shown by his trek as a civilian to the battlefront to rescue one of his academy friends, Lt. Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley).

Brutality was severe. Much of the ingenuity of the human mind for brutality of war was displayed. Much of the coldness of battleground and warfare killing by both gunfire and impalement were graphically shown. Even the brutality of survival was shown as Faversham cut open a camel and drank its blood. There was sniper murders, warfare murders of unarmed soldiers, defensive killings of individuals and of large groups, beatings of slaves and hangings. Dead bodies were piled on a stack of dead bodies.

Coupled in with the extreme violence [1 Cor. 15:33], there was also (as is to be expected?) drunkenness [Luke 1:15, Prov. 20:1, Eph. 5:18] and smoking [1 Cor. 6:19]. I will take this opportunity to share with you a couple findings by other research groups. Though the study surrounding entertainment drinking and smoking speaks to R-rated movies, the focus is on the influence of entertainment drinking and smoking, not the rating. That this movie is PG-13 amplifies the finding by increasing adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in movies such as The Four Feathers.

Adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in entertainment leads to an undeniable increase in tobacco and alcohol abuse. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% were under 14 years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies. The report further states the prevalence of having tried smoking without parental knowledge was 35% for those with no restrictions on viewing R-rated movies, 12% for those with partial restrictions, and 2% for those with complete restrictions. The prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was 46% for those with no restrictions, 16% for those with partial restrictions and 4% for those with complete restrictions. Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say?

Further, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have agreed that violence in movies can and does beget aggression in youth. And God says so [1 Co. 15:33]. Harvard educated child developmental expert, Dr. Karen Nelson agrees with me that any behavioral expression can be shaped by observation of behavior in entertainment, good or bad. Also, the aberrant behavior or change in attitude or coping skils caused or catalyzed by the influence of entertainment may manifest as an entirely different expression than that observed. Further, professional counselor Doctor Larry Gilliam and Dr. Nelson agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully comprehend the consequences of his/her actions or to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality: that such capabilities do not typically plateau until the early 20s. How much more proof of the influence of such presences in and as entertainment do we need? Think of the issue this way. Did you ever get misty-eyed at anything you saw/heard in the movies? Have you ever gotten mad or happy or sad or "energized" at anything you saw and heard on the big screen -- ever?


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. [Speaking is the angel that appeared to Zechariah, promising Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth a son - John the Baptist, but it also says that not drinking aloholic beverages at all will find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Though it is not a sin to drink, God knows of our tendency to excess. And the "strong drink" of Jesus' day was less potent than our dry wine. What does that say about our liquor of up to 75% alcohol?]
  • Prov. 20:1 Wine [beer, mixed wine] is a mocker[to make scorn, make mouths at, talk arrogantly], strong drink [pure wine in the Bible days] is raging [cause to be disquieted, be in an uproar]: and whosoever is deceived thereby [caused to go astray by it, believes otherwise] is not wise. [If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why would there be and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off TV?]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["...on wine" can be any intoxicating substance.]
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple [naos {nah-os'}: metaph. the spiritual temple consisting of the saints of all ages joined together by and in Christ] of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? [Abuse of our bodies is sinful.]

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    The Four Feathers (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • defensive killings, some graphic, repeatedly
  • whipping of a woman
  • slavery, slave beating
  • additional beatings
  • torture
  • drinking of blood from a cut is a camel
  • threats
  • many gunbattle warfare sequences, some graphic
  • injury gore
  • double hanging
  • brutalization of prisoners, repeatedly
  • pile of dead bodies, throwing more on it
  • gore
  • attempted murders

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • deceit

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • full rear male nudity (locker room scene)
  • offer of sex
  • intercourse (clothed)

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • none noted

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • unseen murder with gore
  • multiple murders by gunfire
  • sniper murders
  • another gunfire murder

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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