House of Saddam (2008) HBO / BBC

House of Saddam - Episode 2

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Video Description

1988: Lt General Hussein Kamel witnesses (via CCTV) Uday losing control in a Baghdad nightclub in 1988. His behaviour includes brandishing a gun under the influence of alcohol and firing it recklessly, before ordering the clubbers to be happy as they have 'just won the war'. Saddam commissions Mohammed Ghani to construct the Hands of Victory in celebration of his declared victory over Iran but post-war Iraq faces bankruptcy as Kuwait drives down the price of oil by increasing production. Sajida learns that Saddam has married Samira as a second wife and blames his trusted valet Kamel Hana Gegeo for assisting their affair. Uday also blames Kamel Hana and almost kills him for the sake of his mother's honour, sparing him only so that he can control him when he takes over from his father as President.

Meanwhile, Hussein Kamel, spotting an opportunity to rise within Saddam's inner circle, begins to sow mistrust between Saddam and his popular brother-in-law, General Adnan when Adnan requests Saddam to let his soldiers come home. Tariq Aziz, at an OPEC meeting in Geneva, reveals that Kuwait has been slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields and orders them to cease and apologize.

Not long after drunkenly sharing his concerns with brother Qusay that any children Saddam has with new wife Samira could jeopardise his status as rightful heir, Uday confronts Kamel Hana again at a late night party and beats him to death to the horror of witnesses. Saddam has him arrested and almost kills his first-born son in his cell. Adnan calls into question the ability of Uday to lead Iraq when his time comes, but is not supported by Hussein Kamel, who continues to gain Saddam's trust. Not long after, Adnan is killed in a suspicious helicopter explosion. Sajida confronts Saddam about the death of her brother but he dismisses her with claims that it was merely an accident.

1990-1991: Saddam meets with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and takes her statement of "No Opinion" as giving him to go ahead for the invasion of Kuwait but then U.S. President George H.W. Bush immediately decries the action and organizes a coalition of 34 nations to drive out Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Saddam refuses to back down and is forced to move between safe-houses as the Persian Gulf War commences with the bombing of Baghdad by the US-led coalition air forces. The Iraqi army is quickly forced into retreat as the coalition unleashes its ground offensive to free Kuwait but the Americans declare a ceasefire and withdraw from the Iraqi border leaving Saddam defiant.

Documentary Description

“Don’t tell me about the law. The law is anything I write on a scrap of paper.” Saddam Hussein.  The intimate world of Saddam Hussein and his closest inner circle is revealed in House Of Saddam – a gripping four-part drama for BBC Two that charts the rise and fall of one of the most significant political figures in recent history.  House Of Saddam offers a fresh perspective on the dictator, his relationships and his actions behind closed doors, by retelling events from inside the very heart of the regime. Beginning in 1979 when Saddam became president of Iraq, it follows the impact of his political ambitions on his oldest advisors, closest friends, family members – and on Saddam himself.  Within the walls of his opulent presidential palace respect is interwoven with fear as Saddam exerts control over his allies, his country and its people. As he continues to reign for almost 25 years in the face of mounting internal and external pressures the Iraqi President’s ability to survive is revealed. Eventually, however, the House of Saddam begins to crumble – and its leader becomes increasingly isolated from both the international community, and his inner world.

Co-written by BAFTA award-winning Alex Holmes (Dunkirk) and Stephen Butchard (Vincent), House Of Saddam is based on two years of detailed research including extensive interviews with members of Saddam’s regime, those who worked within his palaces, eyewitnesses and academics. Remaining true to actual events was vital to co-writer and director Alex Holmes, who realised the compelling nature of the story behind the regime. Alex says: “When I looked into Saddam’s story it had many of the qualities of a Shakespeare history play or a gangster movie. He and the people who lived within his orbit – including a rebellious son, a glamorous wife, a disloyal son-in-law, a devoted comrade – seemed to become increasingly disconnected with reality as the years went on, and their actions more incredible to the outside world. House Of Saddam was an opportunity to look into this world behind closed doors. “It also was a chance to examine the political and moral values at play in Iraq, values which gave rise to Saddam Hussein and which he in turn was hostage to. Values like loyalty, strength, honour and pride.

“I was interested in an examination of how Saddam Hussein remained in power for 24 years in spite of being hated by many of his own people and the world. It was a chance to delve into the complex nature of a man with whom many Iraqis had such an ambivalent relationship involving respect and loathing.”

An international cast includes Igal Naor (Rendition, Munich) as Saddam Hussein, Shohreh Aghdashloo (House Of Sand And Fog) as Saddam’s wife Sajida, Philip Arditi (10 Days To War) as Saddam’s oldest son Uday, Said Taghmaoui (Vantage Point, The Kite Runner, La Haine) as Saddam’s half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, and British actress Christine Stephen-Daly (Casualty, Cutting It) as Saddam’s mistress Samira. House Of Saddam was filmed on location in Tunisia in 2007. Roly Keating, Controller, BBC Two says: “House Of Saddam shines a light on the dark and menacing world of Saddam Hussein in an intelligent and compelling way and we are excited to be bringing such a bold series to BBC Two. “The drama will offer audiences an engaging insight into what happened behind closed doors in this world-renowned regime.”

House Of Saddam is a BBC Drama Production and was commissioned for BBC Two by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction. Executive Producers are Alex Holmes and Hilary Salmon (The Passion, Five Days, The Long Firm, Shoot The Messenger).

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