House of Saddam
A mini-series that explores the inner workings of Saddam Hussein's family and his relationship with his closest advisers.
House of Saddam is a 2008 docudrama that charts the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein. A co-production between BBC Television and HBO Films, the series was first broadcast on BBC Two in four parts between 30 July and 20 August 2008.
A pre-title sequence is set in March 2003, showing Saddam watching the broadcast of President George W. Bush's ultimatum to leave Iraq within forty-eight hours. As the bombing of Baghdad commences, Saddam and his family flee the presidential palace.
1979: Shortly after the Iranian Revolution, Iraqi vice president Saddam Hussein fears the increasing influence of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as well as Iraqi president Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr's proposed union with Syria. Saddam instigates the overthrow of President al-Bakr. After being appointed president, Saddam orders his half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, to initiate a bloody purge of the Ba'ath Party leadership in order to wipe out "traitors". Saddam himself executes his closest friend and ally, Adnan Hamdani, as a show of strength. The Islamic Dawa Party rocks Baghdad with a series of terrorist attacks while Saddam is on a hunting trip in Tikrit with his wife Sajida Talfah and son Uday.
Saddam attempts to maintain good relations with the United States as he declares war on Iran. Meanwhile, he begins an affair with married school teacher Samira Shahbandar. Saddam orders the execution of two Iraqi generals after a military defeat at Khorramshahr, and turns against Barzan following the death of their mother; this puts the arranged marriage of Raghad, Saddam's daughter, and Mohammed, Barzan's son, in jeopardy. After Saddam survives an assassination attempt in the Dawa stronghold of Dujail, Barzan fears for his own life and razes the city in retribution. Saddam exiles Barzan to Switzerland and marries Raghad to Hussein Kamel al-Majid, forming an alliance with the al-Majid clan. Hussein Kamel takes over Barzan's post and becomes the new leader of the Special Republican Guard.
1988: As the war with Iran ends, an unstable Uday fires a gun in a Baghdad nightclub. Meanwhile, Saddam declares victory over Iran, even though Iraq has suffered heavy losses and is facing bankruptcy; the Iraqi economy is also being hampered by Kuwait, which is over-producing oil and driving down its price. Sajida learns that Saddam has married Samira as a second wife, and blames his trusted valet, Kamel Hana Gegeo, for assisting their affair. Uday almost kills the valet for the sake of his mother's honour, sparing him only so that he can control him when he succeeds his father. Hussein Kamel attempts to rise within the regime's inner circle by sowing mistrust between Saddam and Adnan. Saddam's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, travels to an OPEC meeting in Geneva and reveals that Kuwait has been slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields, demanding that the Kuwaitis cease.
Saddam's new marriage to Samira leaves Uday fearful that the couple's presumptive children will jeopardize his status as Saddam's heir. Uday confronts Kamel Hana at a late-night party and beats him to death to the horror of witnesses. After having Uday arrested, Saddam nearly kills his first-born son in his cell. Adnan questions Uday's abilities as Iraq's future leader, 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 her brother's death, but he dismisses her with claims that it was merely an accident.
1990-1991: Saddam meets with April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and takes her statement of "no opinion" as giving him tacit approval to invade Kuwait. However, President George H.W. Bush immediately decries the action and organizes an international coalition to drive out Saddam's forces. Saddam refuses to back down, and is forced to move between safe-houses as the First Gulf War commences with the U.S.-led bombing of Baghdad. The Iraqi Army is quickly forced into retreat as the coalition unleashes its ground offensive. However, the U.S. declares a ceasefire and withdraws from the Iraqi border, leaving Saddam defiant.
1995: The Gulf War has left Iraq economically crippled. The United Nations refuses to lift sanctions unless the government agrees to dismantle Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Saddam states he has nothing to hide, resulting in a stand-off between him and the U.N.'s chief weapons inspector, Rolf Ekeus. Saddam is more preoccupied with tracing his roots than with the U.N. stand-off, and ignores his other son, Qusay, when he tries to warn his father about Uday's erratic behaviour. Instead, Saddam presents a family tree purportedly proving a familial relation to the prophet Muhammad. Qusay is clearly worried about his father's state of mind, but quietly leaves him to his devices.
The rivalry between General Hussein Kamel and Uday spirals out of control, as the heir apparent pelts the general with food at a dinner with Saddam's closest allies. The frustrated Hussein Kamel states his disillusionment with Saddam's regime, which allows the spoiled Uday to run wild with impunity. His patience finally ends when Uday hijacks a shipment of medical supplies intended for Hussein Kamel's brother, Saddam Kamel. The brothers discuss Hussein Kamel's plan to cooperate with Ekeus and the CIA, hoping that he will be installed as Iraq's new president after Saddam is overthrown.
During a holiday celebrating Iraq's "victory" over Iran, the Kamel brothers cross the border to Jordan with their wives, Raghad and Rana Hussein. The women, Saddam's daughters, warn their husbands of the potential consequences should Saddam discover their absences. Meanwhile, at a holiday party, Uday rapes a waitress. Qusay realises that his sisters are missing and notifies Saddam. 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 support, and to reveal state secrets once installed as president. His plans are undermined when Saddam decides to reveal the information himself. Kamel becomes increasingly isolated in Jordan, and begins to lose the support of the king and the CIA. Saddam has Sajida to talk their daughters into coming back to Iraq, promising her that they will be safe upon their return. He also offers a pardon to the Kamel brothers. Believing he will be forgiven, and disturbed by his increasing loss of social status, Hussein Kamel and the others return despite warnings from Raghad and Rana.
Once they return to Baghdad, Hussein and Saddam Kamel are humiliated by Uday and Qusay, who force them to divorce their wives and strip them of their Iraqi 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 go unpunished. Ali subsequently surrounds the brothers' house with troops, offering the brothers weapons so that they can die fighting. In a pitched battle, Hussein and Saddam Kamel are killed.
2003: Saddam, along with sons Uday, Qusay and Tariq Aziz, watch television reports of the unfolding Second Gulf War. Qusay seizes Saddam's money from the Central Bank of Iraq on his father's orders. Meanwhile, Saddam orders his troops, particularly those from the Special Republican Guard, to fiercely resist the U.S.-led coalition forces. During a meeting with his sons in a Baghdad restaurant, Saddam advises Qusay to take care of Uday, who is commanding the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary force.
On 9 April, Saddam is forced from power as U.S. forces take over Baghdad. As U.S. troops begin manhunts for high-ranking regime members, Saddam flees to rural Tikrit and goes underground with his loyal confidants. He phones Samira from a call box and tells her to leave for Lebanon. Saddam hides out in a rustic building with his remaining bodyguards. He befriends Ahmed, a lively local boy who initially does not know his identity. Saddam broadcasts messages from his hideout insisting that the Iraqi people continue to resist the U.S. occupation. Meanwhile, Sajida and her family anxiously watch news coverage of the war.
Uday, Qusay and Qusay's son Mustapha take refuge at a house in Mosul. Uday wishes to flee, but Qusay contemptuously refuses. Saddam is informed that there is a monetary reward for his family's betrayal, but he insists that they will not be caught. However, the owner of Uday and Qusay's safehouse betrays them to the Americans, and the 101st Airborne Division surround the building. After refusing to give themselves up, and exchanging fire with the troops, the Americans fire a rocket at their position and all three are killed. Sajida is distressed to learns of her sons' deaths from TV news.
After being informed of the deaths, Saddam secretly visits the graves of his sons and grandson, laying Iraqi flags on them. He continues trying to rally the Iraqi people against U.S. forces, saying that his fallen sons are heroes of jihad. Saddam's bodyguards build a tunnel where the former dictator can hide, but one of them is captured by U.S. troops when he visits his girlfriend. Saddam decides to move elsewhere, but Ahmed warns him of U.S. patrols. He offers to hide Saddam, but the former president refuses to involve him. In Operation Red Dawn, Saddam is captured and taken into custody.
2006: Saddam is placed on trial for crimes against humanity and is sentenced to death by hanging for the Dujail Massacre.
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