House of Saddam (2008) HBO / BBC

House of Saddam - Episode 3

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Video Description

1995: Iraq has survived the Persian Gulf War but is crippled economically, with the UN refusing to lift sanctions unless the government co-operate with their weapons inspectors to dismantle the country's weapons of mass destruction. Saddam states he has nothing to hide resulting in a stand-off between him and chief UN weapons inspector, Rolf Ekeus. Despite this, Saddam shows more concern in tracing his roots. He ignores Qusay, who tries to warn him about Uday's erratic behaviour. Instead, he presents their family tree and the "proof" that they are direct descendants of the prophet Muhammad. Qusay is clearly worried about his father's state of mind but quietly leaves him to his devices. Later, Saddam has the Qur'an written in his own blood. The rivalry between General Hussein Kamel and Uday swiftly goes out of control, as the erratic son of the president humiliates Hussein Kamel by pelting him with food at a dinner with Saddam's closest allies. The frustrated General states his disillusionment with Saddam's regime that allows the spoiled Uday to run wild, unable to be reined in by anyone. His patience ends when Uday hijacks a shipment of medical supplies that he was intending to sell with his brother Saddam Kamel. Hussein Kamel tells his brother about his plan to oust Saddam by co-operating with UN inspector Ekeus as well as the CIA, whom Hussein Kamel hopes will topple Saddam and allow him to become the new president of Iraq.

During a holiday celebrating Iraq's "victory" over Iran, Hussein and Saddam Kamel make the trip over the border to Jordan taking their wives - Saddam Hussein's daughters, Raghad and Rana - who warn their husbands of what their father would do if he ever caught them. At the holiday party, Uday indulges his appetite by raping a waitress. Qusay realises that something is wrong when his sisters fail to appear and warns his father. In Jordan, King Hussein grants the self-exiled group asylum just as Saddam declares them traitors in Iraq. Hussein Kamel plans to oust Saddam with Western co-operation and to ingratiate himself with the West by revealing state secrets. His plans are undermined when Saddam decides to reveal all the information himself. The Kamel brothers are increasingly isolated in Jordan and begin to lose the support of the King and their CIA contacts. Saddam asks Sajida to talk their daughters into coming back to Iraq, promising her that they would be safe upon their return. Sajida calls her daughters in Jordan. Later, Saddam phones Hussein Kamel and offers him and his brother a pardon if they return with their wives to Iraq. Believing he will be forgiven, and disturbed by his increasing loss of social status, Hussein Kamel and the others to return, despite warnings from their wives that if they returned, they would not be forgiven. Hussein and Saddam Kamel are met by Uday and Qusay, who humiliate them by forcing them to divorce their wives and stripping them of their Iraqi military uniforms and ranks. However they allow them to return to their family home, while Raghad and Rana go to their mother's house. Saddam Hussein then tells General Ali Hassan al-Majid that the honor of the al-Majid clan will be tainted as long as the pair are unpunished. Ali surrounds the brothers' house with troops and offers the brothers weapons so that they can die fighting. In a pitched battle Hussein and Saddam Kamel are killed.

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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