I was reminded the other day of my interview for this job here. It had been a long 24 hours and my brain was starting to struggle as I faced the final panel.
About half way through I was asked a relatively simple question about how I would have preached on the passage that had been set for Morning Prayer that day (some obscure Old Testament gory bit I think). I knew my answer hadn't quite hit the mark but was unable to kind of work my way back around it. At the end the Bishop asked me what I was currently reading and I was able to refer to one of the books which was...
...and this provided the link in to the earlier question because of the importance of reading narrative carefully and following the story all the way through and so on.
What brought this about was going to see The Bourne Ultimatum with the boys, and therefore being in a place to comment on the important Bond vs Bourne debate. I grew up with Bond and stuck with the series despite the awful Roger Moore years, often sitting all the way through the closing credits at the cinema in order to catch the "James Bond will return in..." message letting you know the title of the next film. Compared to Bond, though, Bourne was a refreshing adrenaline rush. Somehow the action is more gritty in Bourne with the close up cameras and with the total lack of ridiculous gadgets.
The story in Bourne is also very different. The main plot, extending over all three films, is one of the man who can't remember his past and gradually uncovers it, not always liking what he finds. Bond knows who he is and so there is very little to discover, although the last film, Casino Royale, makes of brave attempt at revisiting the beginnings of the series with Bond earning his 00 badge in the opening action shot.
In The Seven Basic Plots Booker cites the Bond films as part of the "overcoming the beast" genre. Bond's villians are human beings, but are frequently distorted versions of humanity with their insane plans and monstrous egos. Bourne's "quest" follows the alternative style of story (according to Booker) exemplified in The Lord of the Rings or The Odyssey. Interestingly both those examples are of written stories first and foremost. The LOTR movies were awesome and part of their attraction was that they kept broadly to the "quest" motif of the original texts. The problem with the Bourne trilogy is that by making the films piece-meal they have had to change the genre to make it more like the "overcoming the monster" style which suits the Hollywood Blockbuster style but, to my mind, makes the overall trilogy less satisfying than it could be; so although Bourne "remembers" by the end it is in the context of meeting important characters we didn't know before. I was also confused by the flashbacks of his induction - presumably the hero had to have been pushed to sign up as an assassin.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed The Bourne Ultimatum, its just that the need to bring in some previous strands (when the villains from parts one and two had both been bumped off, the monsters had to be overcome - although neither by Bourne himself) whilst continuing the quest makes the final film lacking in substance. The other disappointment is that Bournes one and two were both clearly different from other films of this type and Bourne three (as three as the wind blows) just can't keep that creativity up. Instead of genre defining it becomes "like the last film but bigger", a typical Hollywood risk avoidance strategy.
I wondered whether the things which make narrative satisfying for us change as we grow. I find the "overcoming the monster" trumping of how bad the villain is quite irritating now, and long for a satisfying "quest".
I caught a couple of seconds of an interview with Matt Damon in which he indicated he would do Bourne 4 if Paul Greengrass (the Director of parts 2 and 3) was willing to do it. I would love another Bourne film which really gave us something new...I don't hold high hopes, though.