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The Feelies Not Down With ‘Carlos,’ But Olivier Assayas Still Has A Killer Soundtrack To Epic

The Feelies Not Down With 'Carlos,' But Olivier Assayas Still Has A Killer Soundtrack To Epic

Three-Part Epic Features A Post-Punk Mix Of Wire, The Feelies, New Order & More

This writer finally caught up with Olivier Assayas‘ sprawling three-part epic, “Carlos,” starring the excellent Edgar Ramirez and centering on the rise and downfall of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez aka “Carlos The Jackal,” the international terrorist who menaced the world in the 1970s (this author also agrees most with our review from Cannes; it’s pretty engaging at first, but then tends to drag in its last half).

One thing our various reviews have neglected to mention is the film’s excellent soundtrack which features songs by an eclectic bunch of post-punk bands including Wire (who practically feel like they score the film itself), New Order and The Deadboys. But it wasn’t always meant to be this way. Evidently the herky-jerky, jangly-punk rhythm of ’80s American band The Feelies was supposed to anchor the film. But unfortunately, the band weren’t quite comfortable with their tunes being used in association with one of the world’s most famous terrorists.

“It was not my initial approach. Actually, I was using songs by The Feelies. There is still one at the beginning of the film,” Assayas told EyeWeekly recently. “The music fitted in really well so I ended up using a lot of their tracks. Then, at the last minute, the woman who was handling their rights contacted us saying, ‘Well, I know we’ve been negotiating this for two months, but we have a problem — the guys in the band have discussed this and they don’t want their music associated with terrorism.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? You can’t be serious.’ But she was serious. It was such a problem. We ended up managing to keep one song for a scene that did not involve any kind of terroristic activity. But I had to completely reinvent the whole score.”

While one Feelies song, “Loveless Love,” remains, and featured prominently in the film, Assayas rebuilt the score with tracks by angular post-punks Wire, rounding things out with contributions from the aforementioned acts and Robert Fripp & Brian Eno as well as the Lightning Seeds. It worked wonders with the film’s momentum and we must say, it’s one of the best uses of rock music on screen we’ve seen all year. It doesn’t look like the soundtrack will get an official release but you could create a pretty sleek and compact mini mixtape with the tunes from the film.

Here’s all the songs that were featured in the film.
YOLANDA – Pablo Milanes
AMALIA ROSA – Celestino Carrasco
PARAGUANA – Ali Primera
TEREBELLUM – Robert Fripp & Brian Eno
AHEAD – Wire
The 15TH – Wire
DRILL – Wire
HI’ILAWE – Tia Carrere
SAA MAGNI – Oumou Sangare
PURE – Lighting Seeds
JENRA – Davy Graham
DUNIYA – Tata Dindin
AMIR EL HOSN – Mohammad Wardi
MWASHAH – Hamza El Din

Meanwhile, check out our interview with Assayas, and a recent feature on his entire body of work.

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Would The Feelies object to their songs being used in films about Bush, Obama, Reagan, Blair etc? They're all bigger terrorists than Carlos but their actions are done on behalf of the establishment… No matter, final soundtrack is perfect anyway and I thank Assayas for introducing me to Wire's Ahead.


It is a wonderful use of music throughout the film, and thanks for the helpful listing of songs. My TV’s so bad it was hard to read the closing credits. One point on the list though: no mention of the song over said closing credits “El Sueno Americano” by Portuaria. Great song, great soundtrack. Wish they would release it on CD.


This song is impossible to find. And in the film in two episodes are not known performer. His name in the credits is not specified. It is a pity that there is no official soundtrack. These two songs are performed live at the restaurant is not possible to identify. If anyone knows write the name of the artist.


@ Ali, yeah that music got me fast forwarding to the credits & googling names! It must be Mohammad Wardi, same voice, but where to find it? Wardi’s music is almost impossible to find online.


i meant the music at 304 minutes…towards the end of the last episode, where Carlos is dancing and his fingertips are taken from his whisky glass!


thanks so much for this…there so so much good music in this film and it s a travesty that they’re not releasing the soundtrack! Can anyone tell me what ‘s the music that housebound is playing towards the end of the film In sudan…it s at 323 minutes (when Carlos is videotaped dancing), it s very upbeat and funky. It has the same lush orchestration of Muhaamad Wardi, but sounds too fast for one of his songs ?!? can anyone help, would be much appreciated.


seems like there were at least 3 new order tracks used. maybe it was the same song used multiple times. i saw the 5.5 hr version. i like how the time period in the film caught up with the music and the terrorists had the dead boys(?) playing on their car radio. great soundtrack. great movie.


The 15th and Drill are definitely in the film (the 5,5 hours long that is) and both tracks, as every other song in the movie, work like a charm in order to set the mood and create energy… it is an amazing film and the music is one of the best things in it!


Dot Dash is definitely in the soundtrack but I don’t think “The 15th” or “Drill” are there. I wrote down all the songs in the credits at the end of teh movie.


What is the first song , when the movie starts… we only hear the guitars. I do not think it’s in your list! Ive listen them all, and It was more raucous than any song in the list..except for the Dead boys ..

David N

I didn’t hear “The 15th” by Wire in there, but “Dot Dash” definitely is – you hear virtually the whole thing, and it is glorious. Isn’t there also a snatch of another Feelies song, “Forces At Work”?

Sam C. Mac

Good to see Assayas continue his flirtation with Malian music RE: Oumou Sangare; Ali Farka Touré soundtracked “Late August, Early September” and I think features in a scene from “Irma Vep” as well. Oumou is one of the flat-out greatest modern vocalists, so any exposure she gets is entirely deserved.

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