A.E.W. Mason's perennially popular tale of honor and adventure is brought to the screen yet again in this lavish period action-drama. In 1884, Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is a young officer-in-training in the British Army who is soon to graduate and is expected to be shipped of to the Sudan, where the King's military are battling Muslim insurgents who are attempting to overturn English colonial rule. Feversham, however, has developed serious ethical reservations about going along, and on the eve of his departure, he resigns his commission. Feversham's best friend and fellow officer Jack Durrance (Wes Bentley) in response presents him with a white feather (a symbol of cowardice), and two of his classmates follow suit. Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson), Feversham's fiancée, presents him with a fourth white feather shortly before breaking off their engagement. Sufficiently humbled, Feversham attempts to win back his honor and the respect of his family and friends by secretly becoming an undercover operative in the Sudan. His initial attempts to pose as an Arab are not especially convincing, but he makes friends with Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou), a local sympathetic with the British cause who proves to be a valuable source of insider information and advice on how to blend with the rebels. Meanwhile, Durrance is briefly ordered back to England to help recruit new soldiers for the colonial forces, and he takes the opportunity to begin wooing Eustace, the former flame of his former friend. This adaptation is the fifth film version of The Four Feathers, following two silent screen adaptations (released in 1915 and 1928), Zoltan Korda's memorable 1939 version, and a 1977 made-for-TV movie.
by Mark Deming synopsis