Olivier Assayas’s extraordinary 330-minute epic about international terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sanchéz—better known by his nom de guerre, Carlos the Jackal—is one of the most immersive biopics in cinema history. Spanning 20 years and taking place in a dozen countries, Carlos begins in 1973 in Beirut, where our antihero is a soldier for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Soon he’s dispatched on assignments to London, the Hague, and Paris, killing, raiding, and exploding as the situation requires. Fueled by equal parts Marxist-revolutionary fervor and boundless narcissism, Carlos proudly boasts to one of his many girlfriends, “Weapons are an extension of my body.” Assayas masterfully depicts his subject’s most infamous missions—including seizing control of the 1975 OPEC summit meeting in Vienna, the film’s centerpiece—with assiduous, electrifying attention to detail, giving viewers the sense that they are in the middle of the action. But Assayas is just as specific when chronicling Carlos’s outrageous downfall: it turns out that this Marxist zealot had quite a taste for bourgeois pleasures—and is finally arrested at, of all places, a urologist’s office.

“Assayas and co-scribe Dan Franck resist the temptation to glamorize an iconic murderer or explain away his psychology, though their panoramic vision packs enough telling details to offer audiences the proper view of their subject, as someone worthy of intense interest but little admiration.”
Justin Chang, Variety

Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas & Dan Franck

Ilich Ramírez Sanchez/“Carlos”: Édgar Ramírez
Johannes Weinrich: Alexander Scheer
Magdalena Kopp: Nora Von Waldstätten
Wadie Haddad: Ahmad Kaabour
Hans-Joachim Klein: Christoph Bach
Anis Naccache: Rodney El-Haddad

Best Director; Best Foreign Film – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (2010);
Most Promising Actor – César Awards (2011); Best Mini- Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – Golden Globes (2011)

GENRE Drama, Biopic
LANGUAGE English, Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Japanese, Russian
RUNNING TIME Long version (3 Parts): 332’ – Short version: 165’
PRODUCTION France, Germany, 2010
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) HDCAM, DVD – Short version: 35mm

IFC Films