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Santiago Price
Santiago Price

The Private and Public Life of Saddam Hussein: A BBC and HBO Co-Production

House of Saddam: A Gripping HBO Miniseries About the Rise and Fall of a Dictator


If you are looking for a captivating and realistic drama that depicts the life and times of one of the most notorious leaders in modern history, you should watch House of Saddam. This four-hour HBO miniseries reveals the private world of the dictator as he rose to the highest office in Iraq, consolidating his power by executing anyone in his way.

House Of Saddam 720p HBO Miniseries

What is House of Saddam?

House of Saddam is a co-production between HBO and BBC that aired in 2008. It consists of four episodes, each covering a different period of Saddam Hussein's rule, from 1979 to 2003. The miniseries portrays the personal and political relationships of Saddam and his family, as well as his allies and enemies, as he faced various challenges and crises at home and abroad.

Why should you watch it?

House of Saddam is not only a fascinating historical drama, but also a compelling character study of a complex and charismatic man who was driven by ambition, paranoia, and pride. The miniseries shows how Saddam's decisions affected not only his own fate, but also the fate of millions of people in Iraq and beyond. It also explores the themes of loyalty, betrayal, love, violence, and survival in a turbulent and oppressive regime.

The Plot

Part I: The Coup

The first episode begins in Baghdad, 1979, when Deputy President Saddam Hussein (Igal Naor) and his allies take control of Iraq by overthrowing President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (Makram J. Khoury). Saddam then proceeds to eliminate any potential rivals or opponents by staging a bloody purge within his own party. He also marries off his eldest daughter Raghad (Shivani Ghai) to his cousin Hussein Kamel (Amr Waked), who becomes his trusted adviser and head of weapons development. Meanwhile, he faces a growing threat from Iran, led by Ayatollah Khomeini (Raad Rawi), who inspires a Shia uprising in Iraq.

Part II: The Gulf War

The second episode covers the period from 1988 to 1990, when Iraq is celebrating its victory over Iran after eight years of war. However, Saddam's ambitions do not stop there. He accuses Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil and violating its sovereignty, and decides to invade the neighboring country in August 1990. This sparks an international crisis, as the United States and its allies form a coalition to liberate Kuwait and contain Iraq. Saddam refuses to back down, despite the devastating consequences for his people and his family. His wife Sajida (Shohreh Aghdashloo) becomes increasingly isolated and unhappy, while his sons Uday (Philip Arditti) and Qusay (Mounir Margoum) compete for their father's approval and power.

Part III: The Sanctions

The third episode spans from May 1995 to February 1996, when Iraq is crippled by UN sanctions for refusing to comply with weapons inspections. Saddam tries to maintain his grip on power by cracking down on dissent and corruption within his regime. He also attempts to negotiate with the West, hoping to lift the sanctions and restore his legitimacy. However, he faces a major betrayal from within his own family, when Hussein Kamel defects to Jordan with his wife Raghad and their children, along with valuable information about Iraq's weapons programs. Saddam reacts with fury and vows to take revenge on his son-in-law.

Part IV: The Invasion

The fourth and final episode takes place in March 2003, when U.S. forces invade Iraq and topple Saddam's regime. Saddam instructs most of his family and loyalists to flee Baghdad, while he stays behind with his youngest son Qusay and a few bodyguards. He moves from one hiding place to another, avoiding capture by the Americans and their Iraqi allies. He also tries to rally support from the Iraqi people, who are divided between resistance and collaboration. He eventually ends up in a farmhouse near Tikrit, where he is captured by U.S. troops on December 13, 2003.

The Cast and Crew

Igal Naor as Saddam Hussein

The Israeli actor Igal Naor delivers a stunning performance as Saddam Hussein, capturing his charisma, ruthlessness, intelligence, and vulnerability. Naor spent months studying Saddam's speeches, mannerisms, and history to prepare for the role. He also wore prosthetics and makeup to resemble the dictator more closely.

Shohreh Aghdashloo as Sajida Talfah

The Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo plays Sajida Talfah, Saddam's first wife and cousin, who was married to him at the age of 16. Aghdashloo portrays Sajida as a loyal but unhappy woman who suffers from Saddam's infidelity, violence, and neglect. She also shows her strength and courage in standing up to him at times.

Other notable actors

The miniseries features a talented cast of actors from various backgrounds and nationalities who play Saddam's family members, friends, and foes. Some of them are: - Amr Waked as Hussein Kamel - Philip Arditti as Uday Hussein - Mounir Margoum as Qusay Hussein - Shivani Ghai as Raghad Hussein - Christine Stephen-Daly as Samira Shahbandar - Uri Gavriel as Ali Hassan al-Majid - Said Taghmaoui as Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti - Agni Scott as Rana Hussein - Daniel Lundh as Uday's body double - Akbar Kurtha as Tariq Aziz - Makram J. Khoury as Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr - Raad Rawi as Ayatollah Khomeini - Yigal Naor as King Hussein of Jordan - Nicholas Woodeson as John Nixon

The writers and directors

The miniseries was written by Alex Holmes (who also directed Part I) and Stephen Butchard (who also wrote Five Daughters). They based their script on extensive research, interviews, and eyewitness accounts. They aimed to create a balanced and nuanced portrayal of Saddam's life, without glorifying or demonizing him. The other directors were Jim O'Hanlon (who directed Part II), Christopher Menaul (who directed Part III), and Toby Haynes (who directed Part IV).

The Reception and Awards

The critical acclaim

House of Saddam received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised its production values, acting, and storytelling. Some of the comments were: - "A gripping portrait of absolute power corrupting absolutely." - Los Angeles Times - "A riveting drama that humanizes its subject without softening its edges." - USA Today - "A complex, compelling, and chilling look at one man's rise and fall." - Entertainment Weekly

The controversies and criticisms

House of Saddam also faced some controversies and criticisms from various sources, who questioned its accuracy, objectivity, and sensitivity. Some of the issues raised were: - The Iraqi government denounced the miniseries as "a lie" that distorted Iraq's history and culture. They also banned it from being shown in Iraq. - Some Iraqi viewers complained that the actors did not speak Arabic with an Iraqi accent, and that some scenes were unrealistic or exaggerated. - Some Iranian viewers objected to the portrayal of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iran-Iraq War, claiming that it was biased and inaccurate. - Some Western viewers criticized the miniseries for being too sympathetic or lenient towards Saddam, The nominations and wins

House of Saddam was nominated for various awards, both in the UK and the US, and won some of them. Some of the most notable ones are: - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Shohreh Aghdashloo in 2009 - Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actor in a Mini-Series for Igal Naor in 2009 - RTS Craft & Design Award for Best Make-Up Design: Drama for Marella Shearer in 2008 - OFTA Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries for Shohreh Aghdashloo in 2009


House of Saddam is a powerful and captivating miniseries that offers a rare glimpse into the life and times of one of the most controversial and influential figures of the 20th century. It shows how Saddam Hussein rose from humble origins to become the absolute ruler of Iraq, and how he faced various internal and external challenges that ultimately led to his downfall. It also depicts the personal and political dynamics of his family and his regime, as well as the impact of his actions on the Iraqi people and the world. House of Saddam is a must-watch for anyone interested in history, politics, or drama.


Here are some frequently asked questions about House of Saddam:

  • Where can I watch House of Saddam?

You can watch House of Saddam on HBO Max, where it is available to stream online. You can also buy or rent it on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play, or YouTube.

  • Is House of Saddam based on a true story?

Yes, House of Saddam is based on a true story. It is a dramatization of the events and characters that shaped Saddam Hussein's rule over Iraq from 1979 to 2003. However, some details may have been changed or fictionalized for dramatic purposes.

  • How accurate is House of Saddam?

House of Saddam is generally accurate in its depiction of the major historical events and facts that occurred during Saddam Hussein's reign. However, some aspects of his personal life and relationships may have been embellished or speculated upon by the writers and directors. The miniseries also faced some criticisms and controversies from various sources who claimed that it was biased, incomplete, or insensitive.

  • Who played Saddam Hussein in House of Saddam?

Saddam Hussein was played by Israeli actor Igal Naor, who gave an impressive performance as the dictator. Naor spent months researching and preparing for the role, and also wore prosthetics and makeup to look more like Saddam.

  • What happened to Saddam Hussein after House of Saddam?

After being captured by U.S. forces in December 2003, Saddam Hussein was put on trial by an Iraqi court for crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on December 30, 2006.

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