Wednesday, July 8, 2009

House of Saddam

I plowed through most of this series last night and I'm not exactly sure what to make of it. All the events and facts seem tediously researched and the acting is convincing enough, but there's something generic in the execution. Or maybe elements are too exaggerated. Uday Saddam Hussayn is exceptionally cruel and brash, but nearly catoonish as he arrogantly polishes his cowboy boots while the Iraqi army retreats from Kuwait. You never get a real sense of Baghdad as most of the series is shot indoors and stock footage is spliced in to make the sets feel larger. There's a whole lot of mob-style family drama, but that is accurate to the story of Saddam Hussayn - the man was a straight thug. The whole thing feels very Sopranos.
Time and budget restraints probably kept the producers from fleshing out some of the nuances that would make this one of the most interesting stories of any modern dictator, but what can you really do with such little time? Overall, it is an ambitious series and the four hours you'll send in Saddam's house is well worth it. Just watch your back when you get up for that next beer, Habibi.


tskross said...

hey Justin,
I agree with the 'soprano-isation' of the series and while you're right he was a thug I kind of felt like it was a bit cheap in the sense that it seemed an easy way to make the series more entertaining and added to the overall flimsiness of the series. Having said that I did think it was interesting and enjoyed it, so I guess I buy into that cheap entertainment!
By the way are you familiar with the photos of Saddam's Palaces by Richard Mosse? I think you might like his work, and here Bldgblog interview

Justin Sirois said...

I've seen some of those photos before, but not the whole series. They're beautifully sad. Thank you.

And thanks for the blog link.