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The story of Venezuelan revolutionary, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, who founded a worldwide terrorist organization and raided the OPEC headquarters in 1975 before being caught by the French police.
For more about Carlos and the Carlos Blu-ray release, see Carlos Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 4, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Alexander Scheer, Nora von Waldstatten, Ahmad Kaabour, Christoph Bach, Rodney El Haddad
Director: Olivier Assayas
» See full cast & crew
Carlos Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 4, 2011
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Olivier Assayas' "Carlos" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. Among the supplemental features included on this release are the film's original trailer; selected-scene commentary by cinematographer Denis Lenoir; making of documentary; video interview with director Olivier Assayas; video interview with actor Edgar Ramirez; video interview with with German left-wing militant Hans-Joachim Klein; documentaries; and more. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring essays by critics Colin MacCabe and Greil Marcus, plus biographies on selected historical figures portrayed in "Carlos", written by the film's historical adviser, Stephen Smith. In French, Russian, English, German, Spanish, Hungarian, and Arabic, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Olivier Assayas' Carlos is a very long, impressively researched, and genuinely absorbing film that chronicles the career of the notorious Venezuelan terrorist. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Shot on locations throughout Lebanon, Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Morocco, Sudan, and Yemen, Carlos is the type of epic film one has to see to believe - not because there have not been other epic films that have chronicled the lives of famous political figures, but because in my opinion there has never been anything even remotely as detailed and well researched as Assayas' film. The amount of names, dates and locations referenced in Carlos is indeed mind-boggling.
The film moves at an incredible pace. Once Illich Ramirez Sanchez (Edgar Ramírez) becomes Carlos in Paris and terrorist organizations around the world take notice, it becomes almost impossible to keep track of who does what and for what reason - the plays are incredibly elaborate and the masterminds behind them almost always invisible. From Palestine to Moscow and Budapest to Khartoum, powerful men become engaged in a war without limits.
There are three well documented events in the film, however, that shed plenty of light on who Carlos (dubbed by the media but almost never referred in the film as "The Jackal") was and what he stood for. The first is Carlos' encounter with Wadie Haddad (Ahmad Kaabour), one of the founders of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), who for a short period of time became his spiritual father. Haddad allowed Carlos to train in his camps and then funded many of his terrorist operations in Europe and the Middle East. Haddad also gave Carlos access to an impressive international network of terrorist cells. Later on, when the two went in different directions, Carlos used Haddad's infrastructure to his advantage.
The second event is the notorious raid on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna in 1975. Carlos and his comrades were already monitored closely by a number of different countries in Europe and the Middle East, but after the raid they were officially approached by different governments interested in their services. Syria, Libya, and even the Soviet Union established relationships with Carlos' organization. With the blessing of the KGB, Carlos was also officially allowed to open and maintain bases in different countries from the now defunct Soviet bloc. He was also granted diplomatic immunity, and his arms shipped to different destinations by the intelligence services of friendly nations.
The third event is the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In a matter of days everything changed. The Soviets were no longer willing to protect Carlos and his comrades in Europe. Syria also reconsidered its support, and shortly after so did Libya. For awhile the only place in the world where Carlos was welcomed was Sudan. In 1994, however, DGSE (the French Secret Service) and CIA struck a deal with the Sudanese government and Carlos was extradited to France, where he is currently serving a life sentence.
Before and after shooting began Carlos repeatedly warned Assayas not to complete his film – so when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May earlier this year, Carlos became angry. It should be obvious why. Assayas was the right man to tell the story of his life - a fascinating but nevertheless grandiose failure.
Note: This Blu-ray release contains the complete five-and-a-half hour version of Carlos.
Carlos Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Olivier Assayas' Carlos arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
Criterion's high-definition transfer, supervised and approved by cinematographers Denis Lenoir and Yorick Le Saux, looks identical to the one Optimum Home Entertainment used for their Blu-ray release of Carlos in 2010. One could perhaps argue that compression is slightly better, and that during selected scenes some color nuances differ, but these differences are negligible at best.
Detail and clarity levels are very good, though as the action moves from 70s, 80s and 90s, there are various fluctuations, most notably in terms of color reproduction. Sharpness levels also have a tendency to fluctuate as Carlos moves from the Middle East to Europe and back. The important thing to remember, however, is that Carlos had two cinematographers, and that these image fluctuations are indeed intentional. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue concern. The high-definition transfer is also free of harsh noise corrections, large artifacts and banding issues. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review either. All in all, because of the better compression selected scenes on Criterion's Blu-ray release looks ever so slightly better, but the upgrades are indeed trivial. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Carlos Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (please note that the audio is actually comprised of relatively large chunks of dialog spoken in a number of different languages, including Russian, English, German, Spanish, Hungarian, and Arabic). For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. Unfortunately, they only appear when English isn't spoken, which is somewhat disappointing as many of the important characters in the film are not native English-speakers and have rather thick accents. When turned on, the subtitles appear inside the image frame.
Unsurprisingly, the French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is very convincing. It has an excellent dynamic amplitude which handles the numerous action scenes and the exotic soundtrack very well. The dialog is crisp, clean, and stable, but as noted earlier, optional English subtitles should have also been included for the parts where English is spoken.
Carlos Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Carlos Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Incredibly well researched and brilliantly directed, Olivier Assayas' Carlos was one of the very best films I saw in 2010. Now the film is finally available on Blu-ray in the United States, and it is a prime candidate for a release of the year. The supplemental features Criterion have included on this double set are outstanding. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Carlos Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion's September Line-Up: Altman, Chabrol, Hallström, Assaya... - June 15, 2011
The Criterion Collection has unveiled their Blu-ray line-up for September 2011. Announced titles include Robert Altman's 3 Women, Olivier Assayas'Carlos, Lasse Hallstrom's My Life as a Dog, Claude Chabrol's Les Cousins and Le Beau Serge and the 1920 silent classic ...
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