Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Devil's Double

Lee Tamahori's The Devil's Double (2011) spotlights Dominic Cooper in the twin roles of Saddam Hussein's deranged son Uday and his double, Latif Yahia (on whose memoir the movie is based). It's good, violent in the way mobster movies usually are, with the spectacle of Uday Hussein standing in for all Caligula-type psychopaths thrust into positions of power in various places down through the ages. Caligula (or "Bootsy," 12-41 AD), the Roman Emperor, has a particularly bad reputation due to his excessive cruelty and flippant decision-making (such as appointing a favorite horse to be Proconsul). 

On the one hand, Uday Hussein (1965-2003) represents a universal archetype of unchecked abuse of power vested in individual people. On the other, the moviewatcher may learn more specifically about modern Iraq, the Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War -- the historical backdrop to the story of Uday and his decoy-double.

The idea of doubles is not new, and Saddam Hussein is said to have had several. In one memorable scene (due to its surreal imagery) in The Devil's Double, two Saddams are seen playing each other in a game of tennis. Creepy, man -- the stuff of doppelgänger nightmares.

Today's Rune: Defense.

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