The Bourne Identity – Apples to Oranges
Jason Bourne is back! That was my excitement when I saw the youtube trailer for the latest Jason Bourne movie. So to fill the void until the film comes out on July 29th, I thought we would go back to the beginning of the franchise and discuss Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Identity.
Jason Bourne awakes with no memory but has the muscle memory skills of an elite agent. He defeats the bad guys while obtaining clues to his past. It’s full of action, mystery and has a love story between Jason and Marie. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the movie cast soft-on-the-eyes Matt Damon (and then Jeremy Renner and now back to Matt Damon) to play the lead role.
Which version did I enjoy the best? Drum roll please…. the Movie.
My answer is based solely on the character portrayal of Marie Helena Kreutz. In the movie, she is a free spirit who finds herself in a perilous situation with Jason Bourne. Instead of being a wall flower, she encourages and assists him in his mission to find answers and they fall in love during the journey. In the book, she severely suffers from a 1980’s male writer syndrome and the cultural attitudes towards female characters in action novels. She ranging from victim to damsel in distress to lover all while being jerked around in his quest.
On the first page, the story begins in 1975, which was a shock to then find out that the book was published in 1980. I tried to be patient with the story but I lost it on page 74. “He lashed the back of his hand across her face”. He is the cause of many of her injuries. No! No hero of mine is a man that assaults a woman. On that page, the movie won this round of Apples vs Oranges.
Then it got worse.
I was floored again when Marie was raped by a villain on page 121. There was absolutely no point or reason. Jason kills the guy and then proceeds to try to convince her that it wasn’t his intent to help her. True or not, what a horrible sentiment to pass along to a rape victim. But if you happened to skip over those pages, you would never know this has happened to her because she suffers no after effects. Pointless.
In the movie, I thought the audience really got to know the real Jason through Marie’s eyes. How he treated her showed more about his character than finding out his actual identity. Below is an example from the book and the movie that illustrates the 1980 and 2002 versions of their relationship.
Book version Jason Bourne (page 310)
“I told you I’d tell you,” he answered without evasion, “because you have to know and I mean that. But right now I want to get out of here. Get your things, goddamn it!”
She blinked, his sudden anger having its effect. “Yes, of course,” she whispered.
Movie version Jason Bourne (51 minutes)
“I don’t know who I am,” Jason shouted. “You’re acting like I’m trying to burn you here. I’m just trying to do the right thing,” said Jason.
“Nobody does the right thing,” said Marie.
I’m thrilled that 50% of the pollsters agreed with me that the movie was better. I’m sure most of that has to do with Matt Damon’s smile but I like to think some of that has to do with the updated version to Jason and Marie’s relationship.
After comparing this intense adult action story, next month I would like to compare a children’s adventure with the 2005 movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the beloved children’s book by C.S. Lewis. Which version did you enjoy best?
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen
LAST MONTH'S POLL!