Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Bourne Ictus

I just watched The Bourne Identity, which is the first part in the three-movie Bourne series. Thriller movies like this are a lot of fun, but they always seem to challenge my excuses about how I'm too busy and stressed to have a relationship. This is what I tell myself a lot of the time: "Being an orchestral musician is a time-consuming career, it takes a long time to get settled and established, you have to practice endlessly and travel quite a bit..." Then I watch Jason Bourne, who at the beginning of the film washes up on a boat in the Mediterranean with no clue as to who he is - then he has to dodge police forces, fight off thugs and goons, hitch, steal, and lie his way around Europe, finally take down a whole CIA operation - and he still has time to meet someone, get to know her, fall in love, etc.

It all seems a bit unfair. Of course I don't have amnesia, but I do have some liabilities that Jason Bourne didn't need to face. He's played by Matt Damon, for one. He's able to take the wheel of love-interest Marie's Mini-Cooper, pursued by droves of Paris police, and swerve through sidewalks, down staircases, and up a busy highway in the wrong direction - I get squeamish if I have to ask to use a girl's bathroom. I get nervous calling a friend to ask her out for coffee - Jason Bourne picks up the cell phone of a guy he's just shot to death, calls up a CIA director in Langley, Virginia, and demands a meeting the next afternoon on a bridge in Paris. Then he hangs up before hearing an answer, so they can't trace the call and send more goons. That would be a problem for me, but maybe I need to develop that sort of dashing self-confidence.

Jason Bourne must have gone through some serious training to gain all those skills though. I wonder what if, instead of a top-secret CIA agent, he had waken up in his amnesiac state to slowly discover that he was an international guest conductor. Here's a character-explication scene from Identity with Jason and Marie that I've adapted:

Jason and Marie have just sat down at an orchestra concert in Switzerland. Marie speaks first.

Marie: So what's the deal, Jason? What are you doing here?

Jason: (agitated, tired of all the questions he can't answer) Listen, here's how it is. I walk into this concert hall and I'm immediately checking out the sight lines, locating all the brass and percussion players, so I can put up my hands and discourage them from playing too loud. I know that the third trombone is a little tipsy, the second oboist hasn't had a good reed in weeks, and both second stand violinists think they can play the solos better than the concertmaster, but only the inside one is right. I can read opera librettos in 5 languages, then schmooze potential donors in 8 languages. I know that the guy three rows down is humming La Traviata, but he's 5 cents flat. And I know that I can beat the first 50 bars of the Danse Infernale before my hands start to shake. So you tell me, how can I know all this, and still not know who I am?

It probably wouldn't work too well, though I think it would be great if someone made an action movie about a conductor or orchestral musician. He (or she) could race through exotic city streets to get to the gig on time - subdue angry audience members tired of long introductory speeches - wield a music stand or a viola bow as an improvised weapon. It would be thrilling stuff, I'm telling you.


Anonymous said...

... rub someone out, then stash the body in a bass flight case ...

Gabrielle said...

It should be about an oboist or English-horn-player, of course. Oboes and English horns make excellent clubs, since they both have heavy bells at the end. The English horn bocal would also make an excellent stabbing device, rather like a bayonet. Not to mention that we all carry around multiple (very sharp) knives, as well as assorted other tools like pliers, razor blades, and mandrels . . . That could be one kick-ass fight scene.

Matt Heller said...

Your ideas are both pretty phenomenal. I'm going to work up a treatment and see if I can get my twin brother to shop it around Hollywood.

Heather said...

And you could always steal the great scene in Band Wagon (terrific Fred Astaire movie) in which the thugs pay a nearby "practicing" trumpeter to blow just the right high note to cause a glass of nitroglycerine to explode.

PS I don't know how you understand violinist psychology so well ... it's eerie, for a non-action-movie-star.