2010, Movies, TV

Carlos (2010, Oliver Assayas)

This is one of those innumerable high end European miniseries that got transformed into a movie in North America, both in its full version and in a shortened version. I watched the full version because I really don’t get why we should be satisfied with cuts that are just a little bit more than a third of the original.

This series/movie is a welcome antidote to basically every Hollywood movie featuring a terrorist that has ever been made, as well as most thriller novels which involve terrorists. In these films and novels, the terrorists are always experts, they are skilled in numerous arts and they are perfect or near-perfect at their jobs, until the hero comes along, that is. They are also busy.

But in this film, the terrorists are borderline competent at best, that’s actually flattering them. Moreover, they spend most of their lives not actually being terrorists and much more time sitting around waiting to act, or planning, or doing not much of anything.

It still isn’t entirely realistic. Details are obviously completely invented as Carlos himself refused to participate. And the body counts are exaggerated; for example, during his attempted arrest in France, he shoots more people than he did in real life. And some of what he’s credited with, maybe he didn’t do.

But it is still a fascinating portrait of a terrorist, one that comes much closer to the reality than basically any other fictionalized version of “Carlos” or any other “super terrorist” that I can recall seeing. In this film, Carlos is a mass of contradictions, constantly talking about revolution while acting like a bourgeois.

Well worth the five and a half hours of your time.


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