The Bourne Identity

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The original Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity is a 1988 American mystery action thriller television movie adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s 1980 novel The Bourne Identity. The film adaptation was written by Carol Sobieski, directed by Roger Young for Warner Bros. Television with Richard Chamberlain in the title role, along with Jaclyn Smith.

In this original and far more sober version of Robert Ludlum’s book, Jason Bourne searches for himself and Treadstone.

An unconscious man is washed ashore on the beach of a small French village during a heavy storm. A retired doctor takes care of the unconscious stranger. When the mysterious man recovers, he can’t remember a thing. He does not know his name, he does not know where his flashback memories come from, and he does not know why the access code for an anonymous Swiss bank account is implanted in his thigh.

As he seeks his own identity, things quickly become dangerous. There are attempts to kill him, he is well known in first class hotels across Europe, and worst of all, there are strange similarities between his memories and reported actions of the notorious terrorist, Carlos the Jackal.

Filming Locations

Théoule-sur-Mer, France
St Ermin’s Hotel, Caxton Street, Westminster, London, England
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris 8, Paris, France
La Defense, Paris, France
Alpes-Maritimes, France
French Riviera, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Regensberg, Kanton Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich, Kanton Zürich, Switzerland
Park Avenue and E. 71 Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City
Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France

The film exhibits some differences from the novel by Ludlum. The undercover identity of Jason Bourne is simplified to “Bourne” pursuing Carlos rather than using the code name “Cain”. Alexander Conklin is killed by one of his own people when attempting to confront Bourne; in the novel he survives and appears in subsequent novels.

Peter Cannon of Publishers Weekly named The Bourne Identity among the best spy novels of all time, after John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. (also on The_Void)

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