Attila ’74 – History On Film

Quick Thoughts: Attila ’74: The Rape of Cyprus (1974)

Made by Michael Cacoyannis, this is the Cypriot film of the series.

Attila ’74 is a documentary that investigates the Turkish invasion of Cyprus through interviews with various figures ranging from presidents to common victims in its direct aftermath. In such, this film details the nationalist conflict that erupted between majority Greek Cypriots and minority Turkish Cypriots which lead to the movement of the Turkish military into Cyprus and, after two invasions, the second catalysed by a coup lead by nationalist Greek Cypriots that intended to incorporate Cyprus into Greece, lead to the Turks taking over 40% of the island whilst, in effect, the rest of the world, the UN, Britain and the US, simply watched. With wide-spread death and displacement, the north and south were divided and remain so to this day with the north, illegally by EU law, a Turkish Cypriot territory.

Attila ’74 does well in putting faces, images and human stories to this event which, over night, devastatingly effected the lives of hundreds-of-thousands of Cypriots of both Turkish and Greek decent. However, the initial introduction to the conflict made by this film could have been more cohesive and direct. But, considering that this was made and released in the direct aftermath of the event, it is understandable that Cacoyannis assumed that this conflict didn’t need much of an introduction. To get the most from this documentary it is then probably best to know about it before you go in – which is what I realised half-way through and so had to pause to start reading about it.

Through its fundamental documentation of an event, Attila ’74 is a very impressive film which directly interacts with its subject matter in a way that would be impossible to have done at any time later than this was made. And as a film, technically speaking, Attila ’74 is also impressive thanks to an abundance of sombre and melancholic cinematic language that is invigorated by a sturdy frame that doesn’t seem afraid to simply stare at the face of this event. Moreover, Cacoyannis ensures a use of striking imagery that accompanies interviews, which keeps this from being a long stare at a selection of talking heads and was, in my view, pivotal in creating a narrative with greater impact.

All in all, Attila ’74 is a complex and striking piece of film that, by now, is itself an important document of history.



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