Television Son of Saddam tells the story of Latif Yahia, who was the body double for Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday.
Director David Bartlett talks about the making of the film
Lee Tamahori’s The Devil’s Double (2011) gave us an inside view of the horrors and excess in Saddam Hussein’s household. Based on the eponymous book by Latif Yahia, The Devil’s Double told his story as the Fedai or bullet catcher of Saddam’s eldest son, Uday, who seems to be an all-round crazy psycho person. The super hot Dominic Cooper played both Uday and Latif (Uday was so much more eye catching) and the movie celebrated Eighties excess in every frame. There was drugs, sex and rock n roll and torture aplenty in the overripe film.
“That was classic Hollywood,” says director David Bartlett over the phone. Talking about Son of Saddam , an episode on Banged Up Abroad for National Geographic that he directed, Bartlett says: “This is very gritty. The styling is based on the Bourne films. There is a lot of handheld camera work. It is edgy and visceral.”
Talking about the difference between the film and the documentary, Bartlett explains that the two ends at different points and also Son of Saddam has Latif facing the camera to tell his story. “Latif Yahia is a man who chooses carefully who to open up to. He is a very intelligent man, and has been through a lot of trouble and pain. He has written two books on his experiences, The Devil’s Double and The Black Hole and when Raw Television contacted him with a view to dramatising his life story, he was very keen to engage with us, on the grounds that we would faithfully represent his and his family’s plight. He is a relatively private man, but I gained his trust through many conversations, and we came to a position of mutual respect. From that position, Latif felt comfortable enough to open up very candidly and bravely in what turned out to be a very long interview in front of the camera.”
While most episodes on Banged up Abroad feature people who are stuck in a foreign country, Son of Saddam features Latif who was Iraqi in a different kind of prison in Iraq. “The series tells the story of survival when caught in difficult situations and Latif’s story is true representation of human spirit that refused to get bogged down by the situation.”
Like the movie, the same actor plays both the roles — the honest, good Latif and the evil psychotic Uday. “We needed either twin actors or the same actor playing both the roles.
Sam Vincenti played Uday and Latif. It was a terrific performance as quite often he had to act against himself. There was clever editing involved as well.”
Shot on the northern coast of Tunisia, in La Marsa principally, the feature is gripping for the window it offers into another world.
Son of Saddam will air on 5/September/2012, at 10 p.m. on National Geographic Channel.