Attila (miniseries)

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Attila TV Miniseries.jpg
Written by Robert Cochran
Directed by Dick Lowry
Starring Gerard Butler
Powers Boothe
Simmone Mackinnon
Reg Rogers
Tim Curry
Alice Krige
Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
Country of origin United States, Lithuania
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Paul Lichtman
Robertas Urbonas
Editor(s) Tod Feuerman
Running time 177 minutes
Distributor Universal Studios
Original release 2001

Attila (also known as Attila the Hun in the UK) is an American television miniseries set during the waning days of the Western Roman Empire, in particular during the invasions of the Huns in Europe.


The narrative of the miniseries primarily follows Attila the Hun during his rise to power, violent unification of the Hunnic tribes, and subsequent campaigns, first against the Eastern Roman Empire, and later against the Visigoths and the Western Roman Empire as well.

A parallel narrative follows Roman general Flavius Aetius, Attila's primary antagonist, who works vigorously to keep the Western Empire intact despite factional politics, a weak emperor, and a steady stream of barbarian invasions.


Home media[edit]

The miniseries was released on DVD November 5, 2002 by Universal.

Historical inaccuracies[edit]

  • Critics have noted that the Huns originated in Inner Asia and/or Siberia. As such they were unlikely to resemble actors that are typically "Western European" in appearance, such as Gerard Butler, Simmone Mackinnon, Steven Berkoff, Jolyon Baker or David Baillie. One actor who plays a Hun character, Tommy Flanagan, appears to have been made up to look "East Asian" - while those playing his uncle (Berkoff) and brother (Butler) are not. However, many other scholars point out extensive evidence that the Huns were of mixed origins and, by Attila's time, had intermarried frequently with western Steppe tribes (such as the Scythians and Sarmatians) and often spoke Indo-European languages.
  • There is no evidence that Attila ever spent time in Rome, although Aetius was a hostage for a time among the Huns.
  • The film depicts the Battle of Châlons as the last major campaign of Attila's career, entirely omitting his campaign the following year in Italy, during which he very nearly sacked Rome but withdrew after meeting with Pope Leo I and Roman officials.
  • The film depicts Orléans as having fallen to Atilla's advance, when in reality its defenses successfully repelled his assault.
  • Attila's first wife, N'kara, is entirely fictional as is the daughter of Aetius/Theodoric - although the fact that Attila had adult sons by his death does suggest that he had been married before - perhaps many times. Aetius, however, did have a son named Gaudentius.
  • The Roman helmets that appear here are the classical Roman helmets, although they had in reality abandoned this armor for the more cost efficient Ridge helmet
  • The Roman shields and weapons resemble that of the early Roman army instead of the late one.
  • Both Roman and Hun riders use stirrups, and at times horseshoes, which were not introduced into Europe until several centuries later.
  • Virtually all the swords shown in the film are much too short - in fact virtually every army in the period used some variant of the spatha or longsword as this gave a much longer reach used from horseback.
  • The siege engines used by the Huns are clearly trebuchets operated by counterweights which did not reach Europe until centuries after Attila - rather they should have been torsion-powered catapults.
  • The Roman Emperor Valentinian III is depicted as childish, decadent and idiotic, while in truth he probably was a mature but incompetent ruler.
  • Galla Placidia and Theodosius II were already dead by the time Valentinian murdered Aetius.
  • There are no records that back up the notion that Theodoric and Aetius shared the same wife.
  • The Roman Army's uniforms are anachronisms by the time of the 5th century.
  • As with many films portraying the waning days of the Roman Empire, the Rome is still the titular capital city. From the time of Diocletian, emperors spent little time in Rome. Milan was the principal seat of emperors in the West -- better situated to respond to emergencies -- until 404 when the government was relocated to Ravenna. Valentinian III spent long periods of time in Rome and was resident there when he was assassinated.
  • While Theodoric was killed in the battle, the perpetrator was either an anonymous Hun, or possibly Andag, an ambitious fellow Goth. There are no historians who support a Roman conspiracy theory for his death.
  • Atilla did not kill Bleda immediately after their uncle's death. In fact they were co-rulers for 11 years, before Bleda died under mysterious circumstances. While it is speculated that Atilla did murder his brother, it was certainly not done in a public challenge.
  • Aetius was never imprisoned by Galla Placidia for his tyranny against her and Valentianian III, although he did support Joannes over Galla Placidia's son Valentinian III for ruling of the Western Roman empire and did fight Galla Placidia's support army of the Eastern Empire of Theodosis II's general Aradaburius. Aetius was able to negotiate a compromise after the fighting did not resolve a victor. Aetius was proclaimed magister millitum of Gaul by Galla Placida.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]