Revolutionary Body Mass Index
Watched the full 330 min version of Carlos yesterday. Its refreshing insistence on "not talking politics" (which here includes not giving revolutionary ideological backstory to why you might be willing to take an entire OPEC conference hostage) makes it an all the more accurate rendering of the geopolitical sequence it traces.
More than that, it's a bloated, hollow, sensual film, mirrored precisely in the body of Carlos itself, which passes back and forth from taut and muscular to hanging thickly and drowsy off his frame. In short, the rise and fall of anti-imperialist armed struggle in the rise and fall of his gut, blood pressure, and blood alcohol level. And it is not a one-way story: the narrative economy of the film hangs on the back and forth of this, in and out of shape, more or less fat, more or less drunk, reclined, sagging, over its 5 and a half hours, timed impeccable so your ending torpor becomes his.
Pasolini argued that an anthropological revolution - or rather devolution, in the decried loss of the acne-speckled, dirty necked, lithe ragazzi - had remade the body and, with it, prior categories of political differentiation. For Assayas in this film, it's in reverse. The hungry body gets stuffed, the shape of flesh with blood in veins and on clothes, of pacing excitement and whiskey-slicked dejection, tanned from outside or leathered from inside out by a infinite set of cigarettes. It becomes a sympathetic mass, taking on the droop and pallor of the times, its jawline dropping while it slackly runs out of things to say beyond pettier fits of worry.
And no country will have you anymore now than you would have been willing to have a country then, when fact felt like choice and your stomach didn't crest over your belt, like a hard halved-moon.
The increasing incoherence of a body politic, scrambled across allegiances and the coming-apart of an anti-imperialism in the name of an additive chain of anti-those guys, finds its coherence in the apolitical body of one washed-up killer. Mass action, absent from the start in this strategy of tension, initially displaced with a body count, swapped out once and for all for a steadily climbing body mass index.