Thursday, March 29, 2007

Saddam Hussein Execution Video Described

Saddam Hussein Execution Video Described

An anonymous person posted a link to the Saddam Hussein execution video at the foot of a blog page on which I said I had not, so far, been able to find the video online.

Tuesday 30 January 2007 I found a couple of minutes to go have a look at the video. In the video, you get to see Saddam Hussein with the noose round his neck. The video also covers the moment at which the trapdoor falls away and Saddam drops to his death, a shock of noise accompanying this.

The link to the video was working okay as of January 2007 and is as follows:

This is an extremely murky video, in which we see Saddam intermittently swimming into focus. Much of the video shows a world as cryptic and as hard to interpret as the world which I typically see, when the light is poor, with my damaged eyesight.

I had to watch it a couple of times to figure out the situation, by which time I had figured out that the guy who is making the unauthorized cellphone video is standing below the scaffold. He is looking up at Saddam and is trying to focus in on him. It's not easy, so, a lot of the time, we're looking at stairs, presumably the stairs which lead up to the scaffold. Meantime, we can hear what's going on in the background.

While the video quality is wretched, the sound quality is pretty good, and it is the sound which really takes you there. Considered as radio drama, this is not a bad video.

In the lead up to the moment of execution, there is a certain amount of shouting, and I believe that what is being shouted out is the name of one of Saddam's enemies, the name being used to mock Saddam as he confront his death. However, though there is some shouting, the crowd is not really raucous until, with a crashing sound, Saddam abruptly drops to his death, at which point the crowd roars with a huge excitement and gets much, much noisier.

Whenever Saddam is in view, he is seen minus a hood, true to the soundtrack of an earlier video I saw, apparently some kind of official execution video, one with no noise in the background, a video which claimed, in an English-language voiceover, that Saddam had refused to wear a hood.

The first Saddam execution video that I saw was a kind of Ministry of Truth version posted on a French website. It tells us that Saddam is going to be executed "with one camera rolling." The Ministry of Truth, which moves fast when it wants to, has already elided the cellphone's truthtelling video from the historical record.

In the world of lies, there is no shouting in the background. Also, we do not see the actual moment of the execution itself, therefore we get no sense of the annihilating brutality of an execution.

In the uncensored world of the cellphone video, we definitely hear the background shouting, but then it dies down. Everyone is waiting for the moment of the execution, and now they are silent.

Then Saddam crashes into his eternity with all the violence of a train wreck, and it at that point at which the crowd really starts sounding like a mob, a rabble. It is as if Saddam's achieved death had made them angrier rather than appeasing them, and, across the language barrier, rage can be detected.

The video quality is too poor for me to be sure of Saddam's emotional state, but my own take on what I've seen, viewing it three times, Saddam, seen with the hangman's noose round his neck, betrays no particular expression.

To recap, then, in the build-up to the drop, there is some semi-orchestrated shouting, then the shouting dies down, and then, abruptly, Saddam drops, snatched downward with cartoonish suddenness, his death a convulsive annihilation. Saddam positively explodes into death, and that is when the audience really goes ape.

Watching this video was the first time in my life that I've seen a hanging, and this is one piece of video that I won't forget in a hurry.

I wrote the above notes to accompany the poem THE DEATH OF SADDAM HUSSEIN, which is going to be part of my new book of poems, GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION.

I finished the notes on 28 March 2007, some weeks after the last time I had seen the video. So, wanting to check my recollections, I decided to see if the link to the video still worked, and to see Saddam's departure one last time.

The link clicked through to the site okay, and there was the graphic that you click to play. This was the first time that I'd taken the time to study the graphic properly, and I realized that it shows, pretty clearly, the stairs going up to the scaffold.

I clicked the graphic to see if the video would play.

On this viewing I noticed, for the first time, a certain number of flashes. People were taking souvenir pics, I guess.

The last part shows Saddam hanging, his face upwards, the rope round his neck.

I realized I didn't quite remember the sound as exactly as I thought I did. The shouting does quieten down just before the hanging, but not to the point of silence.

So I'll probably go back and tweak the video execution text at least one more time, and maybe more than once.

What surprises me most about the Saddam video is just how many watchings were required to take in all the detail. And, even now, I guess there are still some things that I'm not picking up on.


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