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Synopsis for
"Carlos" (2010) More at IMDbPro »

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Part one of the mini-series version (98 min.)

Ilich Ramrez Snchez, a Venezuelan exile, who has fought alongside the Palestinians in Jordan, carries out a series of attacks in London in 1973. He moves to Paris where the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) puts him in charge of its European branch under the command of a Lebanese militant, Michel Moukharbal, alias Andr. At the meeting he adopts his famous nom de guerre, "Carlos". He coordinates several operations, in particular the hostage taking in the French Embassy in The Hague by militants of the Japanese Red Army. When Andr is arrested, French agents of the domestic intelligence service, the DST, want to know more about Ilich. To escape arrest, Carlos shoots Andr and three policemen. He then joins the head of the PFLP, Wadie Haddad, in southern Yemen. Haddad entrusts him with a daring mission; taking hostage the oil ministers of the OPEC countries at their forthcoming conference in Vienna.

Part two of the mini-series version (106 min.)

Most of the second episode is devoted to a detailed account of the operation that remains one of the most spectacular terrorist acts of the period. It is December 21, 1975. Leading a group of six militants leftists from German Revolutionary Cells and Palestinian militants including Anis Naccache, Carlos seizes control of the OPEC headquarters, taking ministers and accompanying delegates hostage. He is at the height of his notoriety in the media. However, he and his group are unable to find asylum in the countries of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya and are unable to fly to Iraq because the plane they requested, a DC-9, does not possess the range to fly the thousands of miles necessary. By finally releasing the ministers at Algiers airport in exchange for a large ransom, he fails the mission that Haddad had given him, despite the enormous amount of money he has procured for Haddad's group. This marks the end of relations between the two men. From now on, Carlos becomes a mercenary for hire to whichever country offers the most, including first Iraq, then Syria. He switches operations to behind the Iron Curtain, moving between Budapest and East Berlin under the protection of the East German Stasi. He works with the remnants of the Revolutionary Cells, in particular Johannes Weinrich and his wife Magdalena Kopp, who soon leaves Weinrich for Carlos. Carlos traffics weapons into various points around Europe in the hopes that he can establish terrorist cells for future coups.

Part three of the mini-series version (115 min.)

Carlos' band, based in Budapest and protected by Syria, fosters links with various clients interested in their particular capabilities, among them Ceausescu's Romania and Libya. This intense activity of geopolitical destabilization, orchestrated by Carlos who is trafficking arms, handling huge sums of cash and leading the life of the "Godfather of European terrorism", is soon to come to an end. His decline is closely linked to the changes in the world order. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, he loses several of his backers, is told to leave Syria, and his arena of operation is drastically reduced. He also learns that the various countries around the world who had previously wanted him for crimes in their countries aren't interested in him anymore. Even the CIA considers him at the bottom of their list. He gathers Magdalena and his young daughter and they leave Syria for Libya. When they arrive in Tripoli, Qaddafi's head of security informs him that his presence in that country is "undesirable". Carlos & Magdalena return to Syria. Magdalena informs him that she'll be leaving him with their daughter; Carlos' mother has offered them a place to live. Magdalena is also spurned since she knows that Carlos has yet another mistress.

The last place offering refuge is Sudan: Carlos is by now retired, has taken a new alias and is still tracked by the secret services of several countries. He has been abandoned by his closest allies, a long way from the center stage of international politics. His role as a player is over; he is left to observe the shifts in global power from a distance. With the complicity of the Sudanese authorities, and due to immobility from a testicular condition, he is captured on August 14, 1994 and brought back to Paris to stand trial for crimes that have not been forgotten in France.


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