Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carlos (2010) (the long version)

Carlos, Shakaali / Carlos the Jackal. FR/DE © 2010 Films en Stock / Egoli Tossell Film. P: Jens Meurer, Daniel Leconte. D: Olivier Assayas. SC: Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck, Daniel Leconte. DP: Yorick Le Saux, Denis Lenoir - shot on 35 mm - digital intermediate - released on 2K DCP - scope. PD: François-Renaud Labarthe. AD: Bertram Strauss. Set dec: Tibor Dora. Cost: Françoise Clavel. Makeup: Christophe Giraud, Thi Thanh Tu Nguyen. Hair: Noura Leder. Music selections: "Loveless Love" perf. The Feelies, "Dreams Never End" perf. New Order, "Terebellum" perf. Fripp & Eno, "All Night Party" perf. A Certain Ra-tio, "Ahead" perf. Wire, "Forces At Work" perf. The Feelies, "Sonic Reducer" perf. The Dead Boys, "Dot Dash" perf. Wire, "Drill" perf. Wire, "The 15th" perf. Wire, "Sharing" perf. Satisfaction, "Pure" perf. The Lightning Seeds, "La pistola y el corazon" perf. Los Lobos, "El sueño americano" perf. La Portuaria, "Muwashshah" perf. Hamza El Din. S: Nicolas Cantin, Nicolas Moreau. ED: Luc Barnier, Marion Monnier. Casting: Antoinette Boulat, Veronika Varjasi. C: Édgar Ramírez (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez / "Carlos the Jackal"), Alexander Scheer (Johannes Weinrich), Nora von Waldstätten (Magdalena Kopp), Christoph Bach (Hans-Joachim Klein / "Angie"), Ahmad Kaabour (Wadie Haddad), Fadi Abi Samra (Michel Moukharbel), Hiraku Kawakami (Yatsuka Furuya), Alejandro Arroyo (Valentín Hernández Acosta), Badih Abou Chakra (Sheikh Yamani), Juana Acosta (a girlfriend of Carlos), Susanne Wuest (Edith Heller), Talal Jurdi (Kamal al-Issawi / "Ali"), Anna Thalbach (Inge Viett), Julia Hummer (Gabriele Kröcher-Tiedemann / "Nada"), Razane Jammal (Lana Jarrar), Rodney El Haddad (Anis Naccache / "Khalid"), Katharina Schüttler (Brigitte Kuhlmann), Martha Higareda (Amparo), Antoine Balabane (General al-Khouly), Guillaume Saurrel (Bruno Bréguet), Aljoscha Stadelmann (Wilfried Böse / "Boni"), Nicolas Briançon (Maître Jacques Vergès), Fadi Yanni Turk (Colonel Haïtham Saïd), Belkacem Djamel Barek (Mohammed Boudia), Abbes Zahmani (Abdelaziz Bouteflika), André Marcon (General Philippe Rondot), Udo Samel (Chancellor Bruno Kreisky), Anton Kouznetsov (Juri Andropov / Yuri Andropov). Dvd release in Finland: 2010 Scanbox (short version 149 min) – VET 250380 – K15 – short versions 165 min, 185 min - long version 330 min
    Main languages: French, English, Spanish, German, and Arabic.
    Première partie: 98 min, Deuxième partie: 106 min, Troisième partie: 115 min
    We screened the long version in three parts at 17, 19, and 21, with short coffee breaks.
    There is no 35 mm print of the long version of Carlos.
    Tamasa Distribution 2K DCP with English (and at times also French) subtitles by Andrew Litwack viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Olivier Assayas - Night of the Arts), 26 August 2012.

We have a tradition of screening extra long masterpieces of the cinema during the Nights of the Arts of the Helsinki Festival. The long version of Olivier Assayas' Carlos was the selection of this year. An astounding achievement, a magnificent and intelligent global thriller, an account of the horrific mutation of youthful radicalism into callous career terrorism.

It starts with early actions of Carlos in Paris in 1973. "Demonstrations don't change a thing. It's time for action, fighting capitalism with guerrilla means." "Behind every bullet there is an idea". Carlos commits himself to the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and when Yasser Arafat (PLO) speaks at the UN in 1974 ("do not let the olive branch fall from my hand") Carlos starts to sabotage the Palestinian peace process of Arafat and PLO by every means possible. But his comrades realize that "you have become a star for the Western media". Carlos carries the weight of history, but life means nothing to him.

In the superb performance of Édgar Ramírez, as directed by Olivier Assayas, Carlos remains an enigma. He is fearless, committed, and assured; he is virile, insatiable, and irresistible to women; he is narcissistic, egocentric and usually very controlled, but also volatile and explosive; an alcoholic slob when he is not active on a project. He is a weapons fetishist: "weapons are an extension of my body".

The centerpiece of the movie is the 1975 raid on the OPEC meeting in Vienna in retaliation of the lifting of the oil embargo which was designed to put pressure on Israel and its allies. It is an exemplary piece of intelligent action cinema.

A central theme is the antisemitism of Carlos. The antisemitism alienates the German Hans-Joachim Klein, "Angie", whose life is in danger ever since he tries to leave the terrorist cell. "Du weisst zu viel".

In the 1970s the KGB (Yuri Andropov) and the Stasi (Erich Mielke) start to support Carlos in plans to assassinate Anwar Sadat and in arrangements of the weapons traffic. Carlos becomes a businessman of the arms trade. When the glasnost and the perestroika start Carlos loses the support of the secret services of Eastern European totalitarian governments, and he becomes a pariah also in North African and Middle Eastern countries. President al-Assad wants "nothing to do with you". Gaddafi: "your presence is undesirable". "The war is over, and we have lost". Finally the DST and the CIA catch Carlos in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1994.

There is black humour in the account of how Carlos loses his permission to stay in Budapest in 1979.

The physical production shot on many different locations looks magnificent, and there is a strong sense of place and time in the locations.

There are many ways to look at Carlos the movie. It can be seen as an account of an utter degradation of political radicalism. It can also be seen as a global gangster movie where radical ideas are but a smokescreen for a callous, hedonistic and destructive lifestyle.

In the history of the cinema, Carlos is a contender for the Godfather trilogy as one of the greatest epic crime sagas of all time.

Shot but not released on photochemical 35 mm film, the long version of Carlos looks mostly great in a 2K DCP projection at the cinema. The restrictions of the digital intermediate are displayed only in brief nature scenes.

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