Monday, September 20, 2010


By D.E.Levine

Director: Olivier Assayas
Writer: Dan Franck and Olivier Assayas
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Beyer, Julia Hummer, Anna Thalbach, Susanne Wuest, Alexander Yassin, Alexander Scheer, Ahmad Kaabour, Juana Acosta, Alejandro Arroyo, Talal El-Jordi, Christoph Bach, Rodney El Haddad et al.
Producers: Daniel Leconte and Jens Meurer,
Executive Producers: Judy Tossell and Ralph Cohen
In-house Line Producer: Marc Wachter
Junior Producer: Undine Filter
Running Time: 330 Minutes
Country of Origin: France
Language: French and Spanish with English subtitles
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Thriller

Carlos is a fantastic film but it's 5 hours and 30 minutes long so a viewer must be prepared for some discomfit simply because the break arrives 3 hours and 18 minutes into the showing.

Originally made as a three part television special and shown on German TV, separate or together, Carlos is a formidable undertaking.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, the film is both illuminating and engrossing. It details the life and career of Carlos the Jackal, a myth in his own time and an extraordinarily adept terrorist who holds a place as a central figure in the annals of international terrorism.

Slated to be shown on the Sundance Channel, the film shows how countries embrace and use terrorists to further their individual domestic and international goals.

While the film is extremely politically informative, the individual, Carlos (aka Ilrich Ramirez Sanchez) is still an enigma about whom little is known making it necessary to label the story as fiction.

A successful killer for hire, Carlos was used repeatedly by African nations only to ultimately be betrayed by them and handed over to French authorities by the Sudan.

Despite the fact that we know the ending, the story is taut, suspenseful, exciting and horrifying all at the same time.

He was arrested in 1997 and had an extremely successful and profitable career as a hired assassin during the 1970s and 1980s when he garnered lots of newspaper space.

What is known was that the man who ultimately became Carlos was born in Venezuala to a Marxist lawyer and was educated in England and the Soviet Union.

When he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Beiruit in 1970, Carlos became the engineer and protagonist in bombings, kidnappings and murders worldwide.

Always surrounded by a following, including many infatuated women, he was intelligent, charming and extremely dangerous.

He was a master at manipulating individuals and organizations and claimed that he knew he would die violently.

As with so many communists and socialists, while claiming his actions are to benefit the masses and the oppressed, Carlos lives in luxury surrounded by plenty of money and women.

The film is intriguing because Carlos managed to elude authorities for so long as well as for the fact that even now while he serves a life sentence in a French prison, it's still difficult to get personal details about the man known as The Jackal.