DVD Review: Carlos The Jackal – Deluxe Special Edition [MA15]

Dir: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Alexander Scheer, Alejandro Arroyo, Fadi Abi Samra, Juana Acosta, Nora von Waldstätten, Christoph Bach, Julia Hummer

The Film:
Carlos or Carlos The Jackal as it is known here is in one word – EPIC. The full version of this film runs for 330 minutes, it is split up into three parts. The theatrical cut runs for 2 hours and 38 minutes. It does not matter which you chose to watch, there is a lot going on and you’re in for quite the ride. My recommendation however is to watch the three parts and fully immerse yourself into this world.

Now I am not going to pretend I know a thing about the real Carlos, I know the bare basics. I viewed this as a piece of fictional cinema, and I will therefore not be making any comparisons to the real life man or the events. I am going to comment on what I saw in the film and those characters and events. The film covers quite a large scale of time, it traces one mans beginnings as a terrorist and his eventual capture as a sick older man. Each part in this epic covers a different time, and covers a different man. Yes Carlos is the main character but as the time goes on he changes. Some things don’t change but his confidence sure does. It is quite an achievement to be honest, the pain staking way that actor Édgar Ramírez grows with Carlos, the direction of his character by Olivier Assayas and the clever scripts by Assayas, Dan Franck and Daniel Leconte.

There isn’t much point going into plot details, at least specifically because there is so much to cover. Long story short it is about Ilich Ramírez Sánchez otherwise known as Carlos. He was a Venezuelan revolutionary, he was involved with all sorts of terrorist activities and his most notorious became the 1975 raid on the OPEC meeting. He was sought after by just about every government but managed to evade capture for a long time. That is the gist of it, of course there is much more and this is quite in-depth. The film almost feels like a study of Carlos the man, and tries to capture the reasons why he became what he did. At the end of the day this becomes something that the audience will decide for themselves.

Did he truly believe? Did he do this to become notorious and infamous? Was he truly just a narcissist? My take is that he did believe in something, himself. He always put himself first, no matter what it was. Women went in and out of his life, they were there to suit his needs, he was charismatic and able to have people around him to follow him. This is complex, and through the fantastic performance from Ramirez I felt this was all truly realised. I am sure other people may feel differently, but that is the beauty of a fantastic script and screen translation.

Throughout the three films, the performances were top botch. Édgar Ramírez steals the show and he is fantastic. He disappears into Carlos, he isn’t afraid to portray every aspect of the man. He believed in himself so we in turn believe in his performance. Those around him are also fantastic, no one really stood out above anyone else. The women have difficult roles but they all do such a great job and had such fantastic chemistry with Ramirez, from Juana Acosta to Nora von Waldstätten, just fantastic. I felt that Julia Hummer over played it and wasn’t as good as the others, which was a bit of a let down.

There is so much to admire with these three parts, the way each time frame looks authentic from the cars to the hair styles, it just all fits and you can almost tell the year just from those things. The aging make-up for Ramírez was phenomenal, it was subtle but they really did a fantastic job of slowly aging him. The man also seemed to go through a bit of weight loss and weight gain for the role, kudos to him for that. Olivier Assays really shot this expertly and the cinematography was outstanding. As an entire piece this is an amazing achievement, individually it still is that but each part does not get the same ranking. While I think the best made was Part 2, which covered the OPEC raid, Part 1 and Part 3 are great in their own right. This is compelling viewing and highly recommended.

Part 1 Rating:
Part 2 Rating:
Part 3 Rating:
Theatrical Cut Rating:

The Australian Deluxe Special Edition DVD 
Audio/Video: The video is a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. The picture quality is amazing, it does not let up throughout the entire 4 discs. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1. I was really impressed with the sound, everything was clear and the explosions really hit with an impact.

* Making Of Featurette
* Interview with Édgar Ramírez

The making of featurette is 20 minutes long, it shows us the filming of the OPEC stuff with words from the director. It is a nice little in-sight into the shooting and definitely worth your time. The interview is quite good, Ramírez runs down the basics and it is an interesting little piece.

Overall Rating

Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.

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