Life Chances: Four Families in a Greek Cypriot Village
Director Peter Loizos
Length 43 mins
Format B&W / DVD or VHS / PAL / All region
Location Greece / Europe
Ethnic Group Greek
Order No RAI-200.26
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A careful account of social change in a prosperous Greek Cypriot village, which follows four closely related families before the Turkish made them all refugees. Their lives reflect the possibilities available to individuals and families in the village society.
This film is a careful and comprehensive account of social change in a prosperous Cypriot village, not far from Nicosia. Shot simply and effectively on black and white stock, with a commentary written and spoken by the anthropologist, Life Chances shows life in this village before the invasion of the Turkish army in 1974 turned its inhabitants into refugees. Through the device of concentrating on the life histories of four closely related families, the film successfully indicates the possibilities available to individuals in this particular social system and the constraints it imposes on them. In chronicling the importance of the family as an economic unit in a complex society, the film presents a wealth of detail on wages, division of labour, and the dowry system. The analysis focuses on changes in four families over time on order to bring out an emergent pattern of social stratification, documenting the nature of social and economic change in a community moving from a subsistence economy to capital-intensive cash cropping. The ownership of land, sex-ratio and birth order of children, personality, ambition and the ability to exploit the advantages of modern education, are all examined as factors determining success in economic and social life. Based on the insights of eighteen months’ field research, Life Chances provides an example of a well constructed teaching film which manages to be both visually interesting and important as an ethnographic account.