News from the Locarno Festival

7 Essential Bourne Facts

Jason Bourne


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Jason Bourne is back in the film of the same name, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Matt Damon. Since 2002, the spy saga based on Robert Ludlum’s books has been a recurring event in Locarno, with The Bourne Identity (directed by Doug Liman), The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum (both directed by Greengrass) playing to great acclaim in the Piazza Grande (only The Bourne Legacy, which does not actually feature Bourne, failed to stop by the festival). To celebrate the return of everyone’s favorite amnesiac assassin, here are a few interesting facts about the film series.


  1. The Bourne Identity is the only entry in the franchise that is actually based on the corresponding novel (albeit loosely, as writer Tony Gilroy didn’t read the book and worked from an outline provided by Doug Liman). The first three sequels use only the titles of subsequent books, while Jason Bourne is a completely original story with the credit “Based on characters created by Robert Ludlum”.
  2. The first film was originally scheduled for release in September 2001, but was delayed by almost a year, to June 2002, because of extensive production issues, including numerous rewrites and reshoots. As the events of 9/11 occurred during filming, alternate opening and ending sequences were shot to make the story appear less dated, but they proved unnecessary.
  3. Before Matt Damon was cast as Bourne, other actors, including Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, were considered for the role. One of the candidates was Brad Pitt, who decided to do another spy movie instead: Spy Game.
  4. Ludlum’s books, which were originally published between 1980 and 1990, feature a fictionalized version of the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal. The character is omitted from the films, but an inadvertent connection remains: actor Edgar Ramirez, who appears in The Bourne Ultimatum as the assassin Paz, went on to play Carlos in the eponymous miniseries directed by Olivier Assayas.
  5. The final scene in The Bourne Supremacy, where Bourne is told his real name, was added at the suggestion of Paul Greengrass after test audiences found the original ending too bleak. The scene was shot two weeks before the film’s premiere, and later reshot for The Bourne Ultimatum, where we see the same events from a different perspective.
  6. The Bourne Ultimatum started filming without a finished script, as Tony Gilroy submitted only a first draft and was not available for rewrites (reportedly due to disputes with Greengrass over the previous film). This is one of the reasons Damon and Greengrass originally stated they were done with the franchise.
  7. The Bourne Identity was originally adapted for television in 1988, with Richard Chamberlain playing the title role. In The Bourne Ultimatum, as a tribute to this earlier version, a photo of Chamberlain is shown among those of people killed by Bourne. 
Max Borg
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