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Fox Lorber presents
Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (1975)

"Our casualties amount to about 6500. 3500 are the dead. 3000 are the missing. Of the latter I doubt whether more than a few survived."
- Archbishop Makarios

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: July 14, 2000

Stars: The People of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios
Other Stars: Michael Cacoyannis
Director: Michael Cacoyannis

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some graphic discussion of violence)
Run Time: 01h:39m:08s
Release Date: July 11, 2000
UPC: 720917521725
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B+DB+ C+

DVD Review

Director Michael Cacoyannis' documentary Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus chronicles the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, facilitated in part by the military junta that came to power in the 1960's by exploiting many Cypriots' desire to unite with neighboring Greece. The film consists largely of interviews, oral history hot off the press—Cacoyannis rushed to Cyprus with a small crew (himself, a cameraman and a sound engineer) to record the immediate aftermath of the invasion. The film is in English and Greek with "burned-in" English subtitles (subject to occasional typographical errors) that can't be turned off.

Cacoyannis gained an impressive level of access to political figures for his film, who share their recollections of and theories about the invasion. Archbishop Makarios, onetime President of Cyprus, tells of the junta's efforts to reduce his influence by falsely announcing his death, and an interview with a member of the junta government poses some pointed questions. Political background is discussed—the junta apparently planned to split Cyprus with Turkey, and references are made to collusion by US CIA forces and Henry Kissinger, though these theories aren't explored deeply.

But the political aspects of the situation do not dominate Attila '74. This is an intensely personal documentary—native Cypriot Cacoyannis made it his mission to document the human cost of the brief war in his homeland. Unflinching interviews describe families destroyed and homes lost, and the camera records refugees' grief and desperate searches for lost and missing family members. Cyprus' cultural museum is shown with its glass cases empty, centuries of history lost or destroyed by the conflict that lost significant parts of Cyprus to Turkey. In one difficult-to-watch scene, a young boy recounts the fates of his siblings and parents, gradually losing his emotional composure as he relives an extremely traumatic experience.

As a documentary, Attila '74 provides enough historical background to set the stage, but its chief strength is its "you are there" quality. Shot while the tragedy was still unfolding, the film is free of academic distance, diagrams, and "expert" overanalysis. Instead, Cacoyannis provides a disturbing, vivid look at how one nation's politics nearly destroyed its own population and culture.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Attila '74 is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The source print has some light flecking and damage, and it has not aged well—apparently shot on 16mm film, the image is very grainy in most scenes. Fox Lorber's DVD transfer struggles gamely to handle the film's high levels of grain, but ultimately fails. Hard edges exhibit heavy artifacting, making fine details difficult if not impossible to see, and compression problems play havoc with the burned-in English subtitles, which sometimes nearly disappear in a noisy cloud of pixels against the underlying image. Even granting that the film's image quality posed difficult challenges, the end result is a below-average transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Greekno

Audio Transfer Review: Fox Lorber presents Attila '74 in monophonic Dolby Digital 2.0 format, ProLogic-decoded to play through the center speaker. The soundtrack is surprisingly clean, considering it was all recorded onsite, and one imagines Cacoyannis' sound engineer sweating blood to capture these live moments using portable, distortion-prone mid-1970's technology. Fox Lorber's DVD master is solid, with good frequency range that captures Michalis Christodoulidis' traditional Greek music score well. This is a documentary, of course, and the sound doesn't push the envelope in any way, but it's significantly better than one would expect.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Weblink to Winstar/Fox Lorber Video web site
  2. New Epilogue
Extras Review: Attila '74 on DVD features the standard minimal set of Fox Lorber supplements, with static menus and 8 chapter stops, plus a new Epilogue. Supplements include:

Production Credits -

A simple text screen crediting the individuals responsible for the DVD release.

Filmography and Awards -

Text screens listing director Michael Cacoyannis' films and major awards.

Weblink -

DVD-ROM drives access an .HTML file to reach the Winstar Video/Fox Lorber website, while standard DVD players present a screen with the www.winstarvideo.com address.

Epilogue -

This is a very short but informative 2-minute epilogue that follows up on some of the events discussed in the film, produced in 1999 with Michael Cacoyannis' involvement. Despite its brevity, it's nice to see this kind of material from Fox Lorber—the effort brings this disc's Extras grade up significantly.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus is a sympathetic, well-assembled documentary with a strong sense of immediacy, bound to be of great value to anyone with roots or relatives in Cyprus. Fox Lorber's digital transfer struggles with the footage, which has not aged well from a technical standpoint, but it's still a worthwhile DVD concerning a tragic episode in recent world history.


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