Saddam's Tribe: Bound by Blood (2007)
Director: Christopher Menaul.
Starring: Michelle Bonnard (Raghad), Stanley Townsend (Saddam Hussein), Daniel Mays (Uday), Mem Ferda (Taras Rabinovich), Zubin Varla (Hussein Kamal), Darrell D'Silva (Watban), Bijan Daneshmand (Journalist), Kammy Darweish (Jordanian Official), Zak Davies (Young Ali), Waleed Elgadi (TV Interviewer), Rachel Ferjani (Rana), Davood Ghadami (Saddam Kamal), Kevork Malikyan (Ali Hassan), Madlena Nedeva (Sajida).
Saddam's spoiled and favorite daughter, is completely in the dark about the true nature of her father, but she eventually experiences her father's real nature
"The following film is told from the perspective of Raghad Hussein, eldest daughter of Saddam Hussein. This story is not authorized by Raghad Hussein or her family but is based on published interviews, documents and eyewitness accounts."
Kamal Residence, April 28, 1995. Today is Raghad's father's 58th birthday. She says she was married at the age of 15 to her cousin Hussein Kamal. He was now the Minister of Military and Industry. She was proud of her father and she was very happy because she had a lovely home and five children. Raghad says the early 1990s were difficult for all of them, but her father kept the country together.
Presidential Palace. Saddam throws a party. Raghad mentions that she was her father's favorite. To her Saddam was a dedicated and caring father.
Her eldest brother Uday was Saddam's heir. Uday steals petrol back from his brother-in-law, who stole it from Uday. Uday tazes a man and then laughs while watching his whole body shake on the ground. As a child Uday was self-conscious of his speech impediment. It was his mother who encouraged and protected him. Uday tells his mother: "Sometimes I hate my father." Mother says no, Uday loves his father Uday denies that. Saddam had recently made Uday the Chairman of the Olympic Committee. Uday, however, wanted to be a government minister.
Raghad's sister Rana was married to Raghad's husband's brother, Saddam Kamal, head of her father's personal security. Rana got along better with mother than Raghad did.
Raghad's husband, a farm boy from Tikrit, was her father's most trusted general and the second most powerful man in Iraq.
In short, Raghad remembers her family as the ideal family. "And how could that change?"
At dinner Uday is showing his nephew how to handle a pistol and Raghad asks him to stop that. Uday tells his nephew that when he was a boy his father let him shoot the prisoners. He asks if the nephew would like to do that? The boy shakes his head no. Raghad now tells Uday to leave her son alone. Then her husband tells Uday to leave their son alone. Grandfather says that Uday is only trying to teach the boy.
As a woman, Raghad had no role in government. Most of the high positions were taken up with Saddam's extended family. Her other brother Qusay admired Uday and was very loyal to him.
Grandfather is well aware of the tribal nature of his country. He likes to say: "I'm holding this country together with my fists." The topic of conversation changes to weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Kamal says they got rid of the last of these weapons, but he's not going to tell the world that just yet. Qusay asks why don't they just tell the world they don't have any of these weapons? "The better part of war is deception."
After everyone has gone from the table, except for Saddam and Uday, Uday shows his jealous streak. He wants his father to see him as his most trusted and loyal person that he can rely on. He asks why does Hussein Kamal get to be his right hand man? Saddam says because he's loyal, he doesn't flaunt his wealth, he knows battle and he gives him grandchildren.
Raghad says as far as she knew, there was nothing to worry about.
Hussein Kamal tells a staff member of his that he can't really do anything about Uday taking his own petrol back. Hussein, however, can do something about the man who was tazed by Uday. He suspects the man gave Uday the gas much too easily, so his people pour gas all over the man and then Hussein Kamal kills the man with a shotgun blast.
Raghad repeats how happy she was at time time of her father's 58th birthday. But then she adds: "Little did I know that would be the last day we would spend together as a happy family." Those closest to Saddam were the ones to betray him and we saw our world fall apart. As Raghad speaks, there is a scene where her father watches as a man is tortured.
Raghad says: "Meanwhile, the American aggressors sent their spies, the UN inspectors, depriving our country of its right to defend itself with suitably effective weaponry." As she speaks, there are scenes of dead Kurdish people killed by Saddam's chemical weapons.
Raghad praises her husband very highly, as a scene is shown where her husband is taking a bribe on a weapons buy. He bought the weapons for $10 million dollars but tells Saddam that he bought them for $15 million dollars.
Saddam Hussein tells his guard not to let anyone through the door when he's speaking with the Minister of the Interior Watban, Saddam's brother. Uday comes along and demands to be let in. The guard tells him no and Uday shoots and kills the man. Raghad tries to justify her brother's actions, rather than apologizing for her brother's barbaric behavior. Saddam repeatedly slaps his son around saying he's a joke. He's an embarrassment to the family. Saddam asks how dare his son come in and butcher his staff? He then tells Uday that he knows he has been stealing money from the government. Uday says well, Hussein Kamal steals even more money than he (Uday) does. As he walks Uday to the door, Saddam says if there's another incident like this, he'll have Uday shot.
Saddam goes now to speak with his son-in-law. Raghad is home at the time. Saddam asks Hussein Kamal if he trusts his servants? Hussein Kamal says he trusts his servants. Saddam says he caught a servant stealing soap. The servant's brother came to Saddam to tell him that his children were getting ill because of the sanctions on soap and that's the only reason why his brother took soap. Kamal asks what did Saddam do with the soap stealer? He had the man hanged while all the servants watched. Raghad comments that her father kept his government problems to himself, but she wishes he had told her of these things.
Olympic Committee Headquarters, July 1995. Faisal works for the Ministry of the Interior. Uday wants Faisal to do something for him. Faisal refuses, but then they take the hood off of Faisal's face and the man sees his daughter naked and tied up with her hands and arms over her head. Now Faisal says he will do anything for Uday.
Faisal goes to Saddam and says in the presence of the Minister of the Interior that the Minister received a warning about yesterday's bombing in Baghdad. And he did nothing to stop it. Furthermore, he has a folder of intelligence reports that were just ignored. Saddam scolds his brother, the Minister, and tells him he's through in government. The Minister leaves Saddam's office and stops to glare at Uday with hatred. Uday goes into see his father and hears that his dad thinks he has a place for Uday. Uday has a huge grin on his face.
Meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council. August 7, 1995. Day of Days National Holiday. The holiday celebrates the relatively recent victory of Iraq over Iran in which Iraq lost 375,000 soldiers. Saddam announces that he is creating for his son Uday a new ministry to be called the Department for Military and Industrial Repairs. Hussein Kamal speaks up and says that Uday is inexperienced. Saddam says his son will learn on the job. Hussein Kamal then says the Uday has not shown he can run a football (soccer) team let alone a ministry. Saddam says he's still the President and the decision is his.
Qusay is at the meeting and now he will certainly tell Uday about what Hussein Kamal said about him in the Revolutionary Command Council. An outraged associate, in fact, his brother, asks Hussein Kamal if he is trying to get them killed!? No one defies the President, not even Hussein Kamal.
Raghad prepares her family to go to a big banquet. At the time, she was not aware that the family was about to go to war against itself. Uday bursts into her home and shouts the question does Hussein Kamal want to go to war with him? He puts his pistol up to Kamal's head. He doesn't shoot, but uses his pistol to knock the man down to the floor. Uday then kicks the man repeatedly while he's on the floor. Kamal's son grabs a pistol and fires it, breaking a vase. That makes everybody stop in their tracks. Uday leaves.
Kamal tells his wife that her father can't control this monster Uday! He wants to go to Jordan for a few weeks to get out of Iraq. Raghad tries to stop him, but he insists on going.
Palace of Watban Ibrihim. Uday shows up at the party Watban's place. [Watban was the Minister of the Interior.] Watban is making out with a pretty, young woman. When Watban gets up, Uday moves right in on Watban's woman. When Watban shows up, he's furious at what he sees. When Waban criticizes Uday, the fellow grabs a bottle and breaks it and puts the broken bottle up against Watban's face. Watban warns Uday about what his father will do to him, if Uday kills his brother? Uday starts to walk out. Watban yells that he always knew that Uday was a momma's boy. Uday keeps walking but shortly comes back and seriously wounds Watban with an automatic weapon. He says: "Now you're retired."
Trebil. Iraq-Jordan Border. The family of Hussein Kamal are nearing the border. He is waved through into Jordan.
Royal Palace. Amman, Jordan. Raghad wakes up to her husband speaking on the television. She now realizes that the family has defected to Jordan
Saddam receives a telephone call about his daughter and her family defecting to Jordan. The leaders starts busting up things in Kamal's office.
And now Raghad finds herself in the middle of an international storm. Her husband was now an enemy of the state in Iraq. Bill Clinton tells the King of Jordan that America will defend Jordan if attacked by Iraq.
Raghad can't get through to Baghdad on the phone and she turns all her anger against her husband. She says she wouldn't have come to Jordan if she knew they were defecting. Hussein says that's why he didn't tell her. He also tells his wife that Saddam is heading Iraq down the wrong road to ultimate destruction. He says the Americans will back him as a replacement for her father. She is totally against her husband trying to replace her father. And it seems she's plotting to speak with her father, but her husband and the Jordanians will not let her leave the palace. She finds herself a virtual prisoner.
Qusay comes to see his father. He tries to help his father by volunteering to go speak to the King of Jordan to release Raghad to the authority of the Iraqis, but father says no.
Saddam has Ali Hassan brought back into government. The West knew the man as "Chemical Ali" and blamed him for gassing the Kurds. Ali Hassan tries to negotiate with the Jordanians, but Uday insisted on going with him and Uday would put on a display of his well-know anger for those who won't willingly cooperate with Iraq. The Jordanians refuse to hand the Kamal family over to Saddam.
Rana and her husband also defected to Jordan. She comes now crying to Raghad that her husband won't tell her when they can't go home. Raghad tells hear sister that they are not going home.
Saddam agrees to let the UN inspectors back into Iraq. The UN fellows tell Hussein Kamal that he has shown that neither Saddam or him can be trusted. Saddam has fixed it up so that Kamal gets all the blame for the weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqis also released documents showing how Hussein Kamal stole millions of dollars of government funds.
Raghad says the Americans never understood that when her father seems to be at his weakest, that's when they should fear him the most.
December 1995. Hussein Kamal loses the support of the Americans and is a bit depressed that he would now not be able to help his beloved Iraq. A reporter lays out the cold, hard facts for the man. He says to the Sunis, Kamal is a traitor; to the Kurds, Kamal is a mass murderer; and to the Shiites he's a heretic. It's not Saddam that is finished, but Kamal. The Iraqi gets so angry that he starts beating the news reporter. The two women have to come out to rescue the reporter.
Saddam visits Watban in the hospital. He is on his fourth operation and will need more operations. Saddam says the shooting was a terrible "accident". He sends a message to Watban that he better accept the accident idea or he may be eliminated. Watban says: "Perhaps you're right."
Saddam goes out of the room and over to Uday. He gives Uday a pistol and tells him to give the pistol to Watban so he can shoot Uday in the leg. Uday goes into see Watban and this scares Watban a great deal. He thinks Uday is here to finish him off, but Uday hands over the pistol and tells him to shoot him in the leg. Watban quickly grabs the pistol and holds it, but he won't shoot Uday. He says it was an "accident". Uday kisses Watban three times and leaves the room.
Olympic Committee Headquarters. Saddam and a couple of his men take Uday down to see his rottweilers. At first Saddam points the pistol at Uday which scares him. Then he points his pistol at the first dog and kills it with three shots. Then he kills two other dogs in the same way. He makes Uday watch up close as father kills the last rottweiler. He then tells his son it's time for him to grow up.
Raghad says: "My father loved his children. We heard that he was putting his house in order. That Uday has finally been spoken to." [What a way to speak to a son!]
Raghad comments that eventually her father reached out to them too. He wrote to say that he forgave them. Raghad's sister Rana says there's something wrong about this. He's never going to forgive Hussein. Rana says she and her husband will never go back. Raghad puts pressure on her sister to come with them. She assures her husband, her sister and sister's husband that father would never hurt his own children,. Saddam Kamal thinks this comment is a crazy one. Grandfather would and will hurt his children.
February 21, 1996. The two couples return to Iraq. Saddam Kamal wanted to stay in Jordan and tried to get out of the car at the border, but his brother threatens to shoot him if he does.
The two families go to an apartment. It's then that Uday shows up with soldiers to arrest Hussein and Saddam Kamal. The children start screaming as do the women, but the two men are left behind under house arrest and the wives and children are taken to another apartment. Raghad goes to see her father and asks him what has happened to her husband? Saddam says that the tribe must decide the fate of Hussein Kamal. He says he can't interfere in tribal matters. Raghad says her father can certainly put a stop to it and tries to hand him the telephone. He does take the phone eventually, but only to hang up the phone. He says everything he has done has been for his family. Daughter calls him out on that matter: "No. You pitted your family against each other, and you're surprised when they start tearing each other apart."
Now Saddam Hussein puts a document on the table for Radhad. It's her divorce papers. She says she won't sign, but father says she will sign for him, her country and her children. She signs, but tells father that now she sees how her father really is. Crying, she leaves the room.
Raghad questions her father's kind of love. "What kind of love would that be?" [The sadistic kind of love.]
Like something out of the Russian revolution, the Kamal family is gathered together in one room and then shot down in a mass shooting with automatic weapons. Madeline Albright comments on the mass execution saying it shows the world what kind of wicked man Saddam Hussein is.
Raghad says that after the assassinations, she and her sister chose not to see anyone. After six months, Raghad says she was still not ready to go to her father.
Uday comes to the apartment of Raghad. The family has to go set little Ali sit on the tribal throne, so that tribal representatives can honor him as their next leader.
In his fancy car, Uday takes a dangerous spin around Baghdad going in and out in traffic. He stops at an ice cream place and tells his aide to get him some ice cream. He wants any flavor, except pistachio. While the aide is getting the ice cream a man with a wrap around his head, mouth and nose walks up to the car and fires an AK-47 directly at Uday. A very bloody Uday is taken to the hospital. Father comes to the hospital. Uday's aide is there and he's so scared when he sees Saddam that he pisses his pants.
Uday survives, but he never fully recovered from his injuries. And neither did his father.
Seven years later. The last time Raghad has seen her father was five days before the American invasion. She notes that her father was watching his daughter. Ali has grown a lot and grandfather tells him to take care of his mother. She says goodbye to her father. Raghad comments: "We would never see each other again."
The two sisters and families barely escape from the bombings of Baghdad. Raghad says people say they celebrated the deaths of their two brothers at the hands of the Americans. She absolutely denies that.
For eight months they had no word from their father.
December 13, 2003. At an American press conference, the key phrase is: "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!" Raghad says they talked about her father as if he were a monster.
Camp Cropper, Iraq. A lawyer comes into Saddam's jail cell and introduces himself as his lawyer. He was chosen by Raghad and she will be coordinating her father's defense. Raghad mentions that because of this people started calling her "Little Saddam." In her defense, she says: "But I am my father's daughter, and that's all the world will ever let me be."
"In the hours before his death, Saddam Hussein was granted one last phone call. He did not make contact with any of his daughters. Raghad, Rana and their children are currently living in Amman, Jordan. Their mother Sajida and their sister Hala are currently living in Qatar."
Good, informative film. I read a long article on the IMDB website ridiculing the idea of the whole film, saying it makes the Saddam Hussein family look like some sit-com family. The main point of the movie is about how ignorant and naive Raghad Hussein was about her father. [I acknowledge how part of her problems stemmed from being a woman in Iraq where she had not role at all in dealing with and reading about politics. The men did not discuss politics with women.]
Because she was ignorant and naive, and she loved her father so much, her comments about her father were totally unenlightened. Raghad as narrator says something complementary about her father, as the movie scene shows just how untrue the daughter's remarks are. In a sense, most of the movie mocks every comment Raghad makes.
Eventually, Raghad sees how terrible her father is, when he tricks the families into coming back home from Jordan saying that no one would be persecuted or harmed in any way. She learns that her optimistic comments about their homecoming to Iraq got her husband and her brother-in-law killed. She was very upset with her father, and did not see him for awhile. But then she coordinated her father's defense. She says: "But I am my father's daughter, and that's all the world will ever let me be." In one sense, Radhad was the victim of Muslim society, a psychopathic father and her isolation from the world. So we should have some compassion for her, while not forgetting just how wrong she was about her father.
The acting was good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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