30 May 2010

"The Bourne Identity"

I suspect everyone reading TYWKIWDBI has seen this movie.  The book came out 30 years ago (!), and I remember reading it late into a night because it was - literally - one you couldn't put down.  So I decided to give it another try, thinking I could just whip through it since I've seen the movie recently.

To my surprise, I discovered that the book is quite different from the movie.  In the novel, Jason Bourne is trying to dodge Carlos the assassin and his minions, as well as the authorities; Carlos isn't even involved in the cinema version as best I can remember.  And there's surprisingly little high technology.  Witness this sentence:
"Jason kept his eyes on his watch, the infinitesimal jumps of the thin, delicate sweep hand too agonizingly slow."
I picture a whole new generation of readers asking "Daddy, what's a 'sweep hand'?"  Except the "new generation" won't read the book; they'll only see the movie. 

It's still an excellent book.  Even if you've seen the movie.


  1. Try Forsyth for some _really_ old-school tech. When being able to make a call from mainland Europe to the UK with only a few minutes of waiting time is something noteworthy, you kinda re-assess that cell phone you are carrying.

  2. "Except the 'new generation' won't read the book; they'll only see the movie."

    On their iPads...

  3. Absolutely agree - love the book! I read the trilogy when I was in my teens (I'm nearly 30 now) and couldn't put it down, and had my wife buy them all for me recently so I can read them all again. Another thing you don't see at all in the movies is the whole battle in his head between his various alter-egos.

  4. Carlos the Jackal is a real Venezuelan terrorist who was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment in France in 1997. His inclusion in the movies would have been nonsensical. I thought they did a rather good job of sticking to the "spirit" of the book if not the actual details.

    Also the "new generation" don't read books? For shame. Tell that to the legions of kids reading Harry Potter, Eragon and Twilight. Tell it to my twelve year old whose bedroom is lined with groaning bookshelves full of Anne McCaffrey, Holly Lisle and Ursula Le Guin.


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