Carlos was the pseudonym of the most notorious international terrorist of the 1970s. In service to the cause of Palestinian liberation, he led a series of attacks across Europe, the most famous being the 1975 raid on OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna. After that operation, he became a freelance mercenary, sponsored by various governments in the Middle East and Soviet-bloc Europe. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, he was abandoned by his benefactors, one after another. Eventually, in 1994, he was captured in Sudan, brought to trial in France, convicted, and imprisoned.
Olivier Assayas’s brilliant three-part mini-series is a fictional account of Carlos’s career. It’s efficiently made; there’s no slack in its 5½-hour running time (although Assayas also managed to edit the mini-series down to a 3-hour theatrical film). Édgar Ramírez plays a charismatic, determined Carlos, a Marxist true believer whose career lasts long enough for him to develop a fondness for creature comforts. It’s a fascinating, suspenseful story, a chance to eavesdrop on terrorist cells and the security services (such as the East German Stasi) they collaborate with.
Directed by Olivier Assayas
Written by Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck, and Daniel Leconte
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian, Arabic, German, Russian, Dutch, and Japanese!
Running time: 339 minutes (mini-series)
DVD release date: September 27, 2011