The Epic Struggle of Finding Your Identity
“To make something special,
you just have to believe
- Mr. Ping (Kung Fu Panda)
What better movie to discuss than the The Bourne trilogy, to which a completely new fourth movie was added in 2012? Despite the great excuse to call for a Bourne movie marathon, I will restrict myself to the first one, The Bourne Identity (2002), which is an adaptation to Robert Ludlum’s novel which shares the same title (1980). In the light of ‘identity’, I will also discuss a slightly different, yet equally adventurous movie and one of my all-time favourites: Kung Fu Panda (2008)! Though this animation does not have the theme directly in its name, I will show you that the story of a big panda with a duck as a father most certainly gives rise to some identity issues.
THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002)
First things first: let us establish an agree-to-disagree pact about whether Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) is hot or not, because although I would love to discuss his features, there is too much to tell and not much space to do it in. So who is Jason Bourne? Frankly, he himself does not know. As the head of the black-ops programme ‘Treadstone’ Conklin puts it, Bourne is “U.S. Government property[,] a malfunctioning $30 million weapon[,] a total goddamn catastrophe” (The Bourne Identity). Bourne suffers from memory loss and is chased by several authorities after he washes up in Zurich, Switzerland. With a device injected in his hip, Bourne finds out his basic identity through a safety deposit box which in a small way shows him who he is. From there, he encounters assassins sent to eliminate him, and after he meets his future soulmate Marie, they flee to Paris together. During an epic assault scene when Marie and Bourne are with Marie’s ex and children, Bourne finds out from the assassin that he, too, is connected to the Treadstone programme. He goes after the people running this programme, and slowly Bourne starts to regain the memories from his last mission to assassinate an African dictator. Throughout not only this movie, but also the two to come, we, as well as Bourne himself, learn of his life before the assassination attempt and Bourne’s survival afterwards. If you’re up for a few confusing hours (assuming that you will want to get to the bottom of the mysteries Bourne tries to solve, too, and watch the entire series in one go), this should be your pick. Watching a man struggle to find out who he is through numerous fights, explosions and whatnot, combined with the occasional lack of understanding what the hell is going on, this movie really helps you put your thoughts somewhere else!
KUNG FU PANDA (2008)
For those of you who have not yet seen this wonderful movie, go and watch it! Kung Fu Panda is about the rather disproportionate, though, yet cuddly panda Po, who is chosen to be ‘Dragon Warrior’ despite his lack of skills in almost everything but noodle making and eating. As Po has to be trained, Master Shifu reluctantly starts his lessons while the Furious Five – a crane, mantis, tigress, viper, and monkey – stand by, not believing Po could ever be the most powerful warrior of all time. Master Shifu has to find ways to successfully train the big panda, and soon finds out that Po will do anything for food. Slowly, Po starts to believe in himself as his progress becomes visible. This training is crucial, because one of Shifu’s for-mer apprentices Tai Lung has es-caped from a prison guarded by rhi-nos to seek the Dragon Scroll, on which the secrets of Kung Fu are said to be written. The Furious Five are rather unsure of Po’s powers and take matters into their own hands, confronting Tai Lung. Their defeat leads to Po needing to save the valley. During a both hilarious and thrilling battle Po and Tai Lung keep tossing the dragon scroll back and forth and at the end Tai Lung manages to read it. His disappoint-ment mirrors Po’s earlier reaction when he is shown the scroll as the end to his training. After the battle Po explains to Tai Lung that there is no ‘secret ingredi-ent’ to kung fu, and that simply being yourself is enough. Though this is mainly a children’s movie, Dream-Works has cleverly hidden deeper meanings and adult jokes, which makes it a wonderful pastime to watch this big panda fight his way through training and towards getting to know himself.
By Josephine Mackenbach
The Bourne Identity. Dir. Doug Liman. Perf. Matt Damon, Julia Stiles. Universal Pictures, 2002. DVD.