Life After The Fall Review: Baghdad Post-Saddam

July 21, 2009 by  
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LIFE AFTER THE FALL: Tuesday 21st July, More4, 10pm Alert Me

On the 9th of April 2003 Baghdad’s statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down to a rapturous worldwide response.

In October 2003 film-maker Kasim Abid, after more than 25 years in exile, returned to his home city of Baghdad. In this stunning documentary he records the trials his family face in the events that follow over four years.

Helicopters circle like vultures and Humvees loaded with armed soldiers roll by as he speaks to the residents of Iraq’s capital city, newly able to freely voice their opinions

We hear the odd crackle of gunfire as Abid’s family go about their daily tasks. His mother makes the bread as she shares with us the brutal regimes inflicted by Hussein over 35 years of dictatorship.

It is considerate and inclusive, showing a lot like a portrait of the family. They frankly share their experiences with us in their (relatively) relaxed home environment, dealing with the devastation that surrounds them so matter-of-factly.

The length of the documentary is very much illustrative of the ongoing situation. This is less a snapshot than a lingering close-up on Baghdad family life.

His nieces fervently study by gas light in their electricity-less home. One cites sewing as her favourite hobby, saying it allows her to “escape into another world?.

It’s incredibly intimate and honest, and refreshing to hear the voices, see the faces, know the names of these often anonymous people who would usually only flash up amid the explosions and pools of blood in news reports.

The capture of Hussein is a jubilant day. We are invited to watch him on trial on TV with the family, who later express their optimism for Iraq’s future and their own. Over the course of a year however, the optimism begins to fade as the city descends into civil war.

Life after the Fall is a powerful, illuminating look at the people affected by the Iraq War. It will keep you gripped for its entire 2-hour duration.
Leonie Mercedes