Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Interviews-Cast & Crew-A conversation with ChristopherNolan(Dir)and Al Pacino (Act)
Featurette-Making Of-"Day for Night: The Making of Insomnia"
Featurette-"In The Fog" Nathan Crowley, Production Designer
Audio Commentary-Scene specific, by cast and crew
Featurette-"Eyes Wide Open" - documentary about insomnia
Additional Footage-Deleted scenes with commentary
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (71:41)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Christopher Nolan|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, "ViewSonic" jumps out at me every time.|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This movie is a re-make of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, starring Stellan Skarsgard. While I have not seen that film, I have been led to believe that this adaptation quite closely follows the plot lines, but alters the motives of the characters. When Christopher Nolan, fresh from much critical success with his previous film Memento, was sent a tape of Insomnia and the offer to direct a re-make, he jumped at the opportunity. As well as a talented director, this movie boasts Hilary Swank, Robin Williams, and Al Pacino as the lead cast, making it a very interesting film even before exposing any negative.
Set in the fictional town of Nightmute, Alaska, the story follows LA detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) who has been sent, along with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), to the sleepy Alaskan town to help out the local detectives - who usually encounter nothing more troublesome than drunks - on the case of a brutal bashing murder of a teenage girl. Initially things seem to go well: Dormer guides the locals in setting a trap for the killer, who shows up right on queue, but that is when it all starts to go wrong. In the very thick fog, Dormer does something that he will come to regret. Blaming his actions on the escaped killer, Dormer continues to work the case of the murdered girl, but his conscience starts to get the better of him, and between that and the 24-hour daylight - the midnight sun - he cannot sleep (and therein lies the title). As the days go by and sleep still eludes Dormer, local crime author Walter Finch (Robin Williams) becomes the main suspect - until he tells Dormer that he witnessed what happened in the fog, and that he wants Dormer's help to escape justice or he will talk. What should be an easy decision for Dormer is anything but, as now he has gone days without sleep. To complicate matters, the bright-eyed young detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) is starting to suspect that Dormer isn't telling the whole truth.
It is a gripping story, aided by both the utterly stunning scenery (almost every shot out-of-doors features landscapes that are simply jaw-dropping in both their harshness and beauty) and some very solid performances. This is the last in Robin Williams' "trilogy of evil" (three films in a row in which he played thoroughly nasty individuals, the other two being Death To Smoochy and One Hour Photo), although it was the first to actually hit Australian shores. It was almost as if he was building up for this role in the first two, because in this film he is the ultimate in degraded human beings - there is nothing to like about him at all. This isn't Sy from One Hour Photo who was as much a sympathetic character as a frightening and despicable one. Finch has nothing at all to sympathise with. Pacino carries the film's lead role well, although his "insomniac" doesn't really seem all that different to his normal characters, while Hilary Swank is convincing as the green detective who worships the ground Dormer walks on.
This movie has one major problem however - the ending is a complete catastrophe. With less than five minutes to run, the film unravels completely, and we get an ending that almost seems to be a stop-gap. It is as if the writers simply could not come up with a way to finish the film that was workable, so we have the tacked on rubbish that is there now. It is a real let-down that takes away from from the previous hundred minutes of excellent work.
This is a film that bears repeated viewings well, offering something new to discover each time. An interesting twist is that the film's final scene (after the train-wreck of an ending has done its damage) is an expertly woven journey along the line between tragic and up-lifting, finally restoring faith in the human spirit. If all this is not incentive enough to re-watch the movie, then the stunning scenery at least makes it a visually enjoyable journey.
Overall Insomnia is very much worth seeing. It is really just a very bright film-noir. See it for the breathtaking scenery, the good story, and the solid performances. Enjoy it for its attention to detail and ability to compose scenes that are very memorable. Just don't be disappointed by the ending - you have been warned!
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
Sharpness is superb, displaying incredible detail and helping to bring out the majesty of the stunning backdrops to the drama. The smaller actions of the characters are also conveyed without issue, and there is plenty of fine detail visible. In general there is very little in the way of grain. During the chase in the fog from 28:00 it does become quite obvious, but it is never to the point of being distracting, unlike the rental transfer. Shadow detail is also excellent, and the darker scenes (there are surprisingly many, despite the fact that the entire movie takes place during the "day") have good depth and clarity. There is no low level noise present.
Colours are also excellent. The stark white-blues of the ice fields are well contrasted by the lush greens of the forested landscape. The blue of the police cars and the infrequent colour highlights also come across without any problems. The overall effect is to give the film a very picturesque quality.
There is some pixelation on the grain during the fog-chase sequence, but other than that, compression artefacts are non existent. There is a small amount of aliasing, much less than in the rental transfer, with items such as the plane wings from 3:08 to 3:15 and the filing cabinet from 71:57 to 72:00, producing some fairly obvious shimmering, but in general it is not distracting. There are no film artefacts at all.
The subtitles are quite disappointingly different from the spoken dialogue. Since this is a drama, not much in the way of plot information is lost, but there are many whole sentences that simply do not appear in the subtitles.
This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 71:41, between chapters 21 and 22. It is quite well placed on a scene change, although still noticeable due to the audio dropout. As a final note, the chapter list on the inside cover of the DVD is incorrect. It lists 17 chapters in the movie, while in actual fact there are 31. The 17 chapter list would appear to be the rental chapter list, which was not changed for the retail slick of the movie (although the features box on the back cover was added).
There are two audio tracks available for selection, namely the original English dialogue and a French dub, both presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. The additional audio commentary tracks are not available while watching the feature, due to the nature of their presentation.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. This film has incredible dynamic range, from quiet sleeplessness to ringing gunshots, and uses sound design very specifically to place the audience in the mind of Al Pacino's character - the soundtrack represents all these nuances without any problems. Audio sync is spot on throughout the transfer and is never an issue.
The score is credited to David Julyan, and it is an extremely effective one. Having worked for director Christopher Nolan on many of his previous projects, he is able to balance the on-screen themes with the music perfectly, making the film both a visual and aural journey.
Surround activity is not particularly dynamic, but what activity is present is used to good effect. Some ambience, such as the rattles of the plane journey and the hollow echoes of the tunnel under the cabin, are carried through the surrounds. They are also used to carry the score and some particularly unsettling sound effects, as well as the occasional directional effect.
The subwoofer has little to do, only backing up the score from time to time and kicking in for gunshots and crashing logs, but for the most part it sits idle. This is not the fault of the transfer, as the film contains very few deep bass effects.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is excellent, with very good detail and excellent representation of the spectacular landscapes.
The audio quality is also excellent, presenting a subtly enveloping soundscape that really aids the film.
The extras are extensive and very interesting - a very good overall package. Note that, in what seems to be a rather strange decision, the majority of the extras are not listed on the back cover of the DVD, but rest assured that they are there.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|