Carlos the Jackal's trail of blood leads to Cannes red carpet

19th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The bloodied life and times of "Carlos the Jackal" were red-carpeted at Cannes Wednesday in a saga shot in as many countries and tongues as the trail of violence left by the ex revolutionary.

Serving life in a Paris jail, the Venezuelan-born 60-year-old -- whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez -- made a failed legal bid to stop the Cannes launch of the five-and-a-hour movie by French director Oliver Assayas.

"His journey chronicles an era before the fall of the Berlin Wall, in which he embodied ideas held in Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as the illusions of the post-1968 generation," said producer Daniel Leconte.

Shot over seven months in Lebanon, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary, the movie which is screening on French television from this week, was made on a 14-million-euro budget.

Actors play in the languages of their characters, with the central role played by Carlos compatriot Edgar Ramirez.

"He is more than the star of the film, he is its very being," said Assayas.

But in a message from his cell the real Carlos lambasted the actor.

"Why Edgar did you agree to turn historical truth to ridicule? Why take part in counter-revolutionary propaganda blackening the name of the most famous Ramirez?" he said in the message sent to AFP by his lawyer and wife, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre.

Carlos last week said the movie contained "historical inaccuracies" while Peyre said it was "an attack on his presumed innocence" by the producers, who were also refusing to share the profits. "If Carlos didn't exist there'd be no film," she said.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux had wanted the film to be part of the competition for the festival's Palme d'Or prize.

But because it is funded by Canal + and will screen on French television this week, the French cinema federation voiced its opposition.

Brought in from the cold by French agents in 1994 after almost 25 years on the run, the greying paunchy Venezuelan was once one of the world's most wanted men.

In France alone, where he is serving life for the murder of two policemen, he is alleged to have killed more than a dozen people and is still to stand trial for several bombings.

Carlos, played in the movie by compatriot Edgar Ramirez, made world headlines as a terror "superstar" in 1975 after pulling off possibly his most audacious coup -- an attack on an OPEC ministers' meeting in Vienna.

Shortly before Christmas that year his six-man commando took 70 people hostage there, including 11 government ministers. Three people were killed and the group flew off with a 50-million-dollar ransom.

That attack gave the world its first glimpse of the mystery revolutionary.

In dark glasses and a black Che Guevara-style beret, he was seen smiling and shaking hands with an Austrian minister on an airport runway before flying off to safety.

In his days in the field, and with the probable help of the KGB along with logistical support from some Arab nations and Communist states in Europe, Carlos built up a "terrorist international" involving radical Palestinians and the likes of Germany's Red Army Fraction and Japan's Red Army.

© 2010 AFP

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