2002  118 MN


Insomnia on IMDb
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Christopher Nolan

Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

 Release Date

May 24, 2002


1h58m (118 min)


$ 46,000,000


$ 113,714,830

 Top Billed Cast

 Al Pacino
 Will Dormer
 Robin Williams
 Walter Finch
 Hilary Swank
 Ellie Burr
 Maura Tierney
 Rachel Clement
 Martin Donovan
 Hap Eckhart
 Nicky Katt
 Fred Duggar

 Written by

Erik Skjoldbjærg Original Film Writer
Nikolaj Frobenius Original Film Writer
Hillary Seitz Screenplay


A tough cop. A brilliant killer. An unspeakable crime.



Al Pacino
  Will Dormer
Robin Williams
  Walter Finch
Hilary Swank
  Ellie Burr
Maura Tierney
  Rachel Clement
Martin Donovan
  Hap Eckhart
Nicky Katt
  Fred Duggar
Paul Dooley
  Chief Nyback
Crystal Lowe
  Kay Connell
Jay Brazeau
Larry Holden
Kerry Sandomirsky
  Trish Eckhart
Lorne Cardinal
Katharine Isabelle
  Tanya Francke
Jonathan Jackson
  Randy Stetz
Paula Shaw
Oliver 'Ole' Zemen
James Hutson
  Officer #1
Andrew Campbell
  Officer #2
Tasha Simms
  Mrs. Connell
Malcolm Boddington
Chris Gauthier
  Uniformed Officer
Ian Tracey
  Warfield (voice)
Kate Robbins
  Woman on the Road
Emily Perkins
  Girl at Funeral
Dean Wray
  Ticket Taker


Christopher Nolan
David Julyan
  Original Music Composer
Wally Pfister
  Director of Photography
Dody Dorn
Marci Liroff
George Clooney
  Executive Producer
Steven Soderbergh
  Executive Producer
Paul Junger Witt
Edward McDonnell
Kim Roth
  Executive Producer
Michael Diner
  Art Direction
Nathan Crowley
  Production Design
Ben Cosgrove
  Associate Producer
Broderick Johnson
Andrew A. Kosove
Ken Kirzinger
  Stunt Coordinator
David Betancourt
  Foley Mixer
Dawn Lunsford
  Foley Artist
Alicia Stevenson
  Foley Artist
Peter Lando
  Set Decoration
Susan Taylor Brouse
  Local Casting
Tish Monaghan
  Costume Design
Lynne Carrow
  Local Casting
Charles J.D. Schlissel
  Executive Producer
Erik Skjoldbjærg
  Original Film Writer
George Simpson
  Sound Effects Editor
Marvin Walowitz
  Sound Effects Editor
Nikolaj Frobenius
  Original Film Writer
Hillary Seitz
Steven P. Wegner
  Associate Producer
Steven A. Adelson
  Steadicam Operator
Dan Sissons
  Property Master
Kelly Moon
  Script Supervisor
Drew Davidson
Rob McEwan
  Still Photographer
Michael Minkler
  Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Alex Gibson
  Music Editor
Myron Nettinga
  Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Aaron Glascock
  Supervising Sound Editor
Curt Schulkey
  Supervising Sound Editor
Kira Roessler
  Dialogue Editor
Thom Brennan
  Foley Editor
Karin Nosella
  Assistant Costume Designer
Franziska Keller
  Art Department Coordinator
Keith Woods
  Rigging Gaffer
Alexandra Gonzales
  Dialogue Editor
Eva Morgan
  Production Coordinator
Larry Sutton
  Sound Mixer
Anthony J. Giacinti
  Boom Operator
Randy Shymkiw
  Special Effects Coordinator
Sandra Watson
  Costume Supervisor
Dan Perri
  Title Designer
Glen Lougheed
  Location Scout
Stephanie Boeke
  Extras Casting


- Budget of $46 million.
- Although primarily known for comedic roles, this is one of two thrillers in which Robin Williams starred in the same year. The other was One Hour Photo (2002).
- Will Dormer's name comes from the French, Spanish and Portuguese word "dormir" - to sleep.
- This film stars three Academy Award winners: Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and Robin Williams.
- Robin Williams speaks his first line 47 minutes into the movie and he doesn't appear on screen until 58 minutes in. His character, Walter Finch, does appear earlier in the film, but is not identifiable and is possibly played by a stand-in.
- Harrison Ford was considered for the role of Will Dormer (Al Pacino).
- During the shooting of the film there was an avalanche near the set. Footage of it shot by DOP Wally Pfister is included as an extra in the blu-ray.
- The film is a remake of Norwegian film Insomnia (1997), in which Stellan Skarsgård is cast, while the 2002 remake stars Robin Williams. Williams and Skarsgård worked together in the critically acclaimed film Good Will Hunting (1997).
- After he saw Memento (2000), producer Steven Soderbergh knew he had found the perfect director for this film.
- All of Insomnia was shot in Canada. Only aerial photography of Alaska was used.
- According to the script, Dormer was originally supposed to survive at the end and be helped away from the Lake House by Ellie. This ending was filmed but cut as the film's conclusion was ultimately changed.
- The script adaption written by Hilary Seitz had Al Pacino's character, Will Dormer, arriving in Alaska, the film's setting, as a detective from Oregon. Pacino's executive assistant at the time, Tim Judge, suggested to Pacino that Oregon be changed to Los Angeles and further suggested it be added that Pacino's character had planted evidence to get a conviction which put an innocent man in prison back in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Internal Affairs was suspicious and was pursuing Dormer to bring him back to Los Angeles for questioning. Also, Judge suggested that the real criminal in the Los Angeles case was Walter Finch, portrayed by Robin Williams. In fact, it was the similarities in the crimes occurring in Alaska that brought Dormer there in the first place, not so much just to help his friend, the police chief Nyback played by Paul Dooley. Christopher Nolan liked the changes and added them to his director's pass on the script.


 New Quote

There are two kinds of people who live in Alaska. The ones who were born here and the ones who come here to escape something else. I wasn't born here.
— Rachel Clement



 New Review

By Jack Anderson on June 8, 2020

Insomnia is the second major film from Christopher Nolan and its first following the highly original Memento. Memento was quite a surprise and allowed Nolan to jump to the next level. While the production budget from Memento was $4.5 million, Insomnia was made for $46 million, a tenfold increase that allows Nolan to shoot for three months (versus one for the previous film), have A-class actors and great outside locations. So, let's go in order.

While I highly liked Memento, I also mentioned in my review that the casting was not perfect. Two out of the three main characters were great but not perfectly cast. I imagine the delight of Christopher Nolan to only direct his second major film and have, this time, to work with Al Pacino and Robin Williams, two Academy award winners loved by every moviegoer in the world.
They both

To an extent, real estate and moviemaking are the same. It's all a bout locations, locations, locations. While Memento was great, it also lacked memorable locations. Well, Insomnia is exactly the opposite. I love movies taking mostly place outside and this is exactly the case here. Insomnia is filled with outstanding shots from both Alaska and Canada. Just magnificent.

What I also liked a lot is that the film uses a similar yet totally gimmick than Memento. Here, the main character (Al Pacino) is not able to sleep in a place where the sun never set.

While I liked the characters of the film, I did not really care for Hilary Swank's character. I found her too immature and naive for my taste, even if she ultimately actually solves the mystery. I think her lines were not as good as the ones of the other actors and I think her performance was not subtle enough.

I give it 8 out of 10. Superb.


Definitely not Nolan's best but probably my favourite (at least tied with 'Batman Begins') because I love the Norwegian original so much AND the subtle changes Nolan made with it, as well as what the three stars (Al Pacino, Robin Williams--in his first villainous role, I believe, and Hilary Swank--in probably my favourite performance of hers, next to the downright decadence and naughtiness she displayed in 'The Black Dahlia') bring to the table here. I greatly enjoyed the five short extras on my DVD (a double-sided disc I bought years ago that has 'The Devil's Advocate' on the other side, yet unwatched): a conversation/interview of Nolan with Pacino; 'Day for Night: The Making of...'; 'In the Fog' (which interviewed cinematographer Wally Pfister); Nathan Crowley: production designer; and 'Eyes Wide Open' (which interviewed sleep disturbance experts), which thankfully I viewed before I watched the movie, to enhance my experience.

Greatly recommended to fans of contemporary crime thrillers, regardless of whether you watched the Norwegian original or not. There are enough differences to still make it worth your while as a cinephile.


Captures some human sentiment incredibly well, coupled with the unique setting and great acting, this makes Insomnia a good watch, worth every minute of its two hour runtime.

That said, I was not as enamoured by it as others might be. Perhaps if was unaware of what Nolan, Pacino or Williams are capable of at their highest levels, or if I didn't realise five minutes before the end that I'd actually seen it as a kid and could exclusively remember the ending, then it would have had a higher impact on me.

But even taken for me as is, _Insomnia_ is still a very solid bit of filmmaking.

_Final rating:★★★ - I personally recommend you give it a go._

John Chard

A good cop can't sleep because he's missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop cant sleep because his conscience wont let him.

Insomnia is directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Erik Skjoldbjærg and Nikolaj Frobenius (1997 screenplay). It stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan and Nicky Katt. Music is scored by David Julyan and cinematography by Wally Pfister. It's a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.

LAPD detective Will Dormer (Pacino) and his partner Hap Eckhart (Donovan) travel to the remote Alaskan town of Nightmute to aid the local cops investigating the savage murder of a teenage girl. But Dormer leaves behind an Internal Affairs Investigation that gnaws away at him, and when a potential bust of the murder suspect goes tragically wrong, his conscious gets attacked on two fronts. By lack of sleep and by the killer himself.

It's a House of Cards.

Viewing from afar it's easy to be cynical and suggest that Insomnia is just an American remake cash in. Bigger budget, bigger stars and directed by an indie darling of the critics moving into the big league. While on the surface the plot looks to be another in a long line of cops and villains thrillers where procedural unfolds and evil is ultimately brought down at the end. Yet Insomnia is so much more than that, it's a deep movie dealing in complex psychological issues, a blanc-noir of some character substance, a picture clinically put together around one mans descent into a private hell, with the beautiful Alaskan backdrop perversely claustrophobic and Anthony Mann like in being at one with Will Dormer's fragmented state of mind.

Killing changes you. You know that.

From the opening moments as we observe a biplane flying over the Alaskan glaciers, accompanied by David Julyan's nerve tingling score, there's a looming air of disquiet. Nolan knows his noir onions, mood is everything and the dense psychological atmosphere is never once breached for the entire movie. Much of the picture is dialogue heavy, gratifyingly so, with the hushed conversations between Pacino and Williams begging the viewer to hang on every word as cop and killer (no spoiler, it's revealed to us early as a necessity) jostle for control of each others soul. What action there is also comes with a side order of otherworldly delights, a chase across floating logs and a stalk through eerie fog being the two particular highlights.

Sleep comes at a cost.

With three Oscar winners in the cast Nolan had some serious quality to direct, that Pacino, Williams and Swank deliver excellence is high praise for the British director. Pacino actually gives one of his finest late career performances, utterly compelling as Dormer, his haggard face tells of a thousand sorrows, his sleep deprived gait befits a man staring into the abyss. Wally Pfister's photography is on the money, the blend of snow whites and green tinges sparkle from the vistas and the soft brown hues inside the hotel provide the rare moments of tranquillity available to Will Dormer. Across the board Insomnia is a cracker of a movie, a film that goes into the murky depths of the genre to reveal one of the best movies of 2002. 9/10


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