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Jordan F. Ghanma
Not just another heavily laden documentary on Saddam's tyranny.
I'm sure we all think that we know everything that there is to know about Saddam, however I found the documentary "Saddam's Tribe" to be a very astute portrayal of the 1990s Saddam era. This documentary was narrated unofficially through the eyes of Saddam's daughter Raghad, and does a fascinating job of sticking to her point of view while simultaneously maintaining a very accurate portrayal of events. It's simply brilliant because it allows us to see a side of Saddam which we hardly get through the lens of the Western media.
I've read extensively about Saddam and have formed many of the same character opinions and details about events as in this film. I was actually impressed that they had got it right, which is kind of rare to see that on American television; usually it's the typical images of him shooting off guns and hanging people in the streets.
Many see the man as more of a one dimensional character - a dictator. Saddam was a well organized man, a Stalinist, and the only 'who' when concerning the 'who's who' of Iraq. The "Ace of Spaces" or the "butcher of Baghdad" in the eyes of the West was minimized because he was much more to his people who supported him, and this documentary allows somewhat of a venue for that realistic view.
Raghad's point of view as realistic since it was certainly feasible for Saddam to lavishly cater to his family while treating other tribes and sects as pawns in his illusions for a pan-Arab state. It's actually the way it works in Iraq, tribes come first, his tribe came first, he trusted and relied on them by elevating them to preeminent roles even when they were totally unqualified.
Perhaps what was missing from his character was purposely left out of the film since Raghad would not have seen it so easily? Most notably, Saddam's clear character flaw in always having one foot in 'old world' and one foot in 'modern world'. For example as a consequence to this, he once scoffed at the US support for Israel as "there were clearly more Arab nations, why support the Jews", illustrating a total lack of understanding on his part. It could also be argued, that perhaps the movie had it's "cheesy parts", such as the car scene which was unrealistic, and it's rough dialog compared to Hollywood standards; but as a drama unfolding through the eyes of his daughter, it struck me as brilliant.
In it all, we see the corruption of reality from within Raghad's point of view as it "subsequently" falls apart as she transcends throughout the film. In reality, she is finally able to see what we all see in her father, a cold, calculating, evil tyrant bent on ends justified through any means. Through her suffering we can empathize with her need to forgive and accept her father for who he really is as we forgive those who have close ties in our own tribes.
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