The film certainly uses Carlos as something of a focal point to explore this. Set against the backdrop of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Cold War, the rise of Saddam Hussein (he was an admirer of Carlos's methods) and the birth of Islamic extremism, it can be viewed as a prehistory of modern terrorism.
"The film is pretty much about how terrorism is interconnected with geopolitics," says Assayas, "meaning it can only be understood if you have the bigger picture. The similarities are that terrorism is really about one state sending a message to another and all the noise in the media is somehow collateral to the reality of what's going on."
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