Saar Klein Reflects on Cutting The Bourne Identity

A recent publication of The Ringer’s column How They Made It dissects The Bourne Identity’s pivotal bathroom scene, which was edited by Lost Planet’s Saar Klein. In the scene at hand, needing to change identities following a car chase, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) dyes his accomplice/love interest Marie’s (Franka Potente) hair in a Paris motel room.

Even if you don’t have a taste for thrillers, or have somehow lived through recent modern history without ever having watched The Bourne franchise, the article is still a worthwhile read, as it is fascinating to get the behind-the-scenes story of the production elements, the character and plot beats, and the on-set experience that went into the making of two and a half minutes of cinema history.

Doug Liman, who directed the 2002 film, referred to the bathroom scene as the most terrifying one to shoot, which is ironic considering he shot a two-hour long action film. But to Liman’s defense, the article characterizes the scene as “the culmination of the characters’ time—and actors’ chemistry—together, elevating what could have been a generic, hypermasculine spy thriller into a deeply human, realist, and modern classic.”

“I think if that relationship didn’t work,” Saar told The Ringer, “then the film would have fallen apart. It would have been just an action film.”

The fact that Liman and Saar both came from independent film backgrounds (The Bourne Identity was made by Universal with a $60 million budget) united their sensibilities throughout the film. “We were just on the same page…coming from the same place.”

“I know people think the Bourne franchise is really cutty, but it was really thoughtful about when to do it,” Saar added. “A scene like that, the emphasis is just not to overdo it and just let the chemistry and the acting be in the forefront.” 

Check out a clip of the scene below and click here to see more of Saar’s work.