Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Bourne Identity

It is the book this time biggrin. Or the movie... Or both!

I've always noticed that if there is a movie that is based on a book watch the movie first. That way you will get to enjoy both. The movie almost never matches the book. For the writer has limitless luxury to explore everything to his / her heart's content. There is also the added perspective to get inside thoughts of the characters. Finally, the author can build a really complex plot and take time to unravel the fabric, knot by knot. Movies are driven by constraints - time, budget and the biggie, compromises! In that sense, it is not fair to compare a book with the movie. But the comparison happens subconsciously even without volition. In that sense, the movie is no match for the book!

Ludlum is a master story-teller! This is my first book of his. And is executive producer of the movie, it is actually interesting to compare the two!

  1. The book is ultra-violent. There is no way a movie could match the book and appeal to all audiences.
  2. In either setting, Jason Bourne is a killer, but with a conscience. A paradox in motion, with the added twist of a lost memory! You can see the trend across the Bourne trilogy. In Identity, he kills people who try to kill him (not sure of the count). Ditto with Supremacy (2 kills I think). None in Ultimatum! Here, he actually walks away from killing his would-be assassin, which eventually transforms the latter.
  3. The movie actually compromises the core plot. Eventually, as the trilogy is built, it is inevitable that the movie has veered far away from the plot. The fourth installment, I guess would be a figment of imagination from the screenwriters totally out of sync with the original plot.
  4. Every character in the book is ultra-intelligent. As each tries to outplay the other with mind games, a sense of awe descends over Ludlum's ability to weave the complexity out of thin air.
  5. And sigh! Marie. As always happens in movies with unflinching consistency, the heroine is the doll for the hero (more or less across movies, but in general so). And in the book - oh my God! As a financial whiz-girl, the is actually the king pin (queen pin?) for several of Jason Bourne's insights and answers several of Jason Bourne's already-intelligent theories with precision! And yes, as a tribute, she turns about to be right in more than one occasion - the occasions themselves being critical to the story plot!
  6. The novel came out in early eighties and the movie came out in 2002. 25+ years is an era in technology! There were no cellphones then. So the movie screenplay had be really overhauled to account for all this. For instance, the account number embedded in Bourne's body in the movie beginning is a piece of paper in the book biggrin. And in the movie, it is an IR device that beams the account number on the wall! Then again, you also get to see Bourne's expertise with cellphones in the Bourne Supremacy.
It will be interesting to see where the movie makers take the story. I think everyone will want to be done with the fourth movie (except Universal studios! Think about it, it is a money minting machine now!).

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