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Insomnia is a 2002 American psychological crime thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Hillary Seitz. A remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, it stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank with Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan, Nicky Katt and Paul Dooley in supporting roles. The film follows two Los Angeles homicide detectives investigating a murder in Nightmute, Alaska. It is the only film by Nolan that he did not write or co-write.

Released on May 24, 2002, Insomnia grossed more than $113 million worldwide against a production budget of $46 million, and received critical praise, including for Pacino s and Williams performances.


In the small fishing town of Nightmute, Alaska, 17-year-old Kay Connell is found murdered. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart are sent to assist the local police with their investigation. They do so at the request of police chief Nyback, an old colleague of Dormer. Ellie Burr, a young, local detective who is also a fan of Dormer s investigative work, picks them up when they arrive.

Back in Los Angeles, Internal Affairs is investigating one of Dormer s past cases. While in the restaurant of their hotel, Eckhart reveals that he is going to testify against Dormer in exchange for immunity. Dormer responds by noting that many criminals whom he helped to convict using questionable evidence could go free if their cases are reopened.

Dormer cleverly attracts the murderer to the scene of the crime, but the suspect flees into the fog, shooting one of the police officers through the leg. Dormer spots a figure in the fog and fires with his backup weapon when his primary jams. Rushing to the fallen figure, Dormer picks up a .38 pistol the suspect has dropped. He then discovers that he has shot Eckhart. Eckhart recognizes him, and dies believing Dormer shot him on purpose.

Because of Eckhart s pending testimony, Dormer knows that Internal Affairs will never believe the shooting was an accident, so he claims that Eckhart was shot by the suspect. He does not mention that he has the .38 pistol. Burr is put in charge of the shooting investigation, and her team finds the .38 caliber bullet that hit the officer. That night, Dormer walks to an alley and fires the .38 pistol into an animal carcass, then retrieves and cleans the bullet. At the morgue, the pathologist hands him the bagged bullet retrieved from Eckhart s body, but she is unfamiliar with its type. Dormer leaves and switches the .38 bullet for the 9 mm slug from Eckhart s body.

Over the next few days, Dormer is plagued by insomnia, brought on by his guilt over killing Eckhart and exacerbated by the perpetual daylight. Dormer starts receiving anonymous phone calls from the killer, who claims to have witnessed Dormer kill his partner. When the police learn that Kay was a fan of local crime writer Walter Finch, Dormer breaks into Finch s apartment in the nearby village of Umkumiut. Finch arrives at home, realizes the police are present, and evades Dormer after a chase. Dormer returns to Finch s apartment and plants the .38 to frame Finch.

Finch contacts Dormer and arranges a meeting on a ferry. Finch wants help in shifting suspicion to Kay s abusive boyfriend Randy Stetz and in return will stay silent about the Eckhart shooting. Dormer gives advice on handling police questioning. After Finch leaves Dormer on the ferry, he shows the detective a tape recorder he used to record the conversation.

Finch calls Dormer and tells him that Kay s death was an accident ; he beat her to death in a fit of rage after she laughed at his sexual advances. The next day, Finch gives false testimony at the police station. When Finch claims Randy has a gun, Dormer realizes Finch has discovered his plant and has hidden it at Randy s home. Randy is arrested when the gun is found at his house. Finch asks Burr to come to his lake house the next day to collect letters indicating that Randy abused Kay.

Burr returns to the scene of Eckhart s death and finds a 9 mm shell casing, which conflicts with the bullet type from Eckhart s body. She reads her own case study from an investigation Dormer was involved in and learns he has carried a 9 mm, leading her to suspect that he shot Eckhart. Meanwhile, on his last night staying in the hotel, Dormer confides in the hotel owner, Rachel Clement, about the Internal Affairs investigation: He fabricated evidence to help convict a pedophile he was certain was guilty of murdering a child and who would have walked if Eckhart had testified.

Dormer learns that Burr has gone to Finch s. He finds Kay s letters in Finch s apartment and realizes that Finch intends to kill Burr. He learns of Finch s lake house and rushes there. At the house, Finch knocks Burr unconscious just as Dormer arrives, and takes Burr s gun. Dormer is too disoriented from lack of sleep to fight off Finch. Burr revives and saves Dormer, while Finch escapes. Burr reveals she knows Dormer shot Eckhart, and he admits that he is no longer certain if it was an accident. From his shed, Finch shoots at them with a shotgun, and Burr returns fire with Dormer s gun while Dormer sneaks around to Finch s location. After a scuffle in which Dormer grabs Finch s shotgun, Finch shoots Dormer with Burr s gun, and Dormer shoots and kills Finch with the shotgun.

Burr rushes to the fatally wounded Dormer and comforts him by affirming that Eckhart s shooting was accidental, then moves to throw away the 9 mm shell casing to preserve Dormer s reputation. Dormer stops her, however, urging her not to lose her integrity as he had. Dormer says his last words just let me sleep and dies just as Burr puts the bullet back in the evidence bag.


  • Al Pacino as Detective Will Dormer
  • Robin Williams as Walter Finch
  • Hilary Swank as Detective Ellie Burr
  • Maura Tierney as Rachel Clement
  • Martin Donovan as Detective Hap Eckhart
  • Nicky Katt as Detective Fred Duggar
  • Paul Dooley as Chief Charlie Nyback
  • Crystal Lowe as Kay Connell
  • Jay Brazeau as Officer Francis
  • Larry Holden as Officer Farrell Brooks
  • Kerry Sandomirsky as Trish Eckhart
  • Lorne Cardinal as Officer Rich
  • Katharine Isabelle as Tanya Francke
  • Jonathan Jackson as Randy Stetz
  • Paula Shaw as The Coroner


Jonathan Demme was originally attached to direct the film and considered Harrison Ford for the role of Will Dormer.


Insomnia has Robin Williams playing a villain, deviating from the comedic roles for which he was earlier known. Regarding his decision to cast Williams, Nolan said: I think will come away feeling like they have seen a new Robin Williams. Seeing Robin Williams doing something they would have never imagined that he would or could do.

Nolan on Williams s acting:

What I thought of Robin, was, well he is an extraordinary guy to work with and he really gave what I consider to be a flawless performance. I wound up watching the film hundreds of times as we cut it, and I never hit that point with the performance where you start to see the acting. Most performances, at a point, bits start to peel off and away, but with Robin s he was very much in that character. Not that he s a very dark person to work with – he s very lively and friendly and amusing to work with. He really found something within himself. I think it s a very underrated bit of work on his part.


Insomnia was filmed over a three-month period from April to June 2001. The opening aerial scene was filmed over the Columbia Glacier near Valdez, Alaska and the float plane approach was over the Portland Canal near Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia. The town of Nightmute, Alaska, was primarily filmed in/around Squamish, British Columbia, including the hotel/lodge, police station, high school, and the funeral cemetery scene. The scene where Will Dormer shoots his partner on the rocky beach in the fog was filmed at Clementine Creek in Indian Arm, outside of Vancouver. The village of Umkumuit, where Finch s apartment is located and where the log chase scene occurs, was filmed on Vancouver Island in Port Alberni. The waterfall road scene where Dormer is on his way to Finch s lake house and spins his car 180° was shot in front of Bridal Veil Falls on the Richardson Highway near Valdez, Alaska. The final scene of the movie on the fictional Lake Kgun at Finch s lake house was filmed on the northwest end of Strohn Lake in Bear Glacier Provincial Park, just outside of Stewart, British Columbia. For this final scene, the film crew constructed Finch s lake house and dock from scratch and then disassembled and removed it after filming was completed in late June 2001.


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site s critical consensus reads: Driven by Pacino s performance, Insomnia is a smart and riveting psychological drama . On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating generally favorable reviews . Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of B on an A+ to F scale.

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film an enthusiastic review, calling it a four-course gourmet alternative to summer popcorn flicks, serving up the meatiest performances Al Pacino and Robin Williams have given in many years. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that Unlike most remakes, the Nolan Insomnia is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play.

Erik Skjoldbjærg, the director of the original film, said of Nolan s reinterpretation:

It was quite close, stylistically, to the original. I felt lucky that it s such a well crafted, smart film and that it had a really good director handling it, because as a remake I think it did really well, and it doesn t hurt any original if a remake is well done. So I felt I was lucky that Christopher Nolan took it upon himself to do it.

Taste of Cinema complimented Nolan for being able to capture the excitement of the original while still setting it apart as a notable film itself. IndieWire included Insomnia in their 10 Remakes of Classics by Great Auteurs list, writing, Nolan shifts the moral ground from the snowballing moral corruption of the original to shades of guilt and accountability and Pacino s increasingly bleary and hallucinatory perspective becomes an evocative metaphor for his struggle.


Robert Westbrook adapted the screenplay to novel form, which was published by Onyx in May 2002.

Year 2002
ReleaseDate 2002-05-24
RuntimeMins 118
RuntimeStr 1h 58min
Plot 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.
Awards Awards, 1 win & 11 nominations
Directors Christopher Nolan
Writers Hillary Seitz, Nikolaj Frobenius, Erik Skjoldbjærg
Stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank
Produced by George Clooney, Ben Cosgrove, Broderick Johnson, Paul Junger Witt, Andrew A. Kosove, Edward L. McDonnell, Kim Roth, Charles J.D. Schlissel, Steven Soderbergh, Emma Thomas, Tony Thomas, Steven P. Wegner
Music by David Julyan
Cinematography by Wally Pfister
Film Editing by Dody Dorn
Casting By Marci Liroff
Production Design by Nathan Crowley
Art Direction by Michael Diner
Set Decoration by Peter Lando
Costume Design by Tish Monaghan
Makeup Department Gitte Axen, John Caglione Jr., Bonnie Clevering, Norma Hill-Patton, Thom MacIntyre, Cheri Minns, Gina Sherritt, Stacey Butterworth, Bill Terezakis, Vince Yoshida
Production Management Brad Arensman, Crawford Hawkins, Mandy Spencer-Phillips, Wendy Williams
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director David Arnold, Mike Johanson, Vincent Lascoumes, Fiona Winning
Art Department Karie Adkens, Peter Bodnarus, Eddie Boulier, Jim Bridge, Roger Busque, Lee Campbell, Anil Chauhan, Brent Chernencoff, Janet Clark, Claude Clement, David Dague, Darian Deering, Adam Drake, Rain Draper, Lee Drummond-Hay, Frank Duignan, David Pops Fukakusa, Reg Gay, Antonio Germinario, Chris Gilmour, Blair Gough, Rick Guetre, Ilja Hargas, Chris Hayward, Brian Jansen, John R. Johnston, Franziska Keller, Brad Knull, Ralf Kroning, Steve Lamare, Raymond Landry, Herb Leggett, Andrew Li, Peter Lieshout, Brad Longmuir, Roderick MacDonald, Lisa McMullen, Harvey Moeller, Karen Mullen, Don Munich, James Polkinghorne, Mathew Pooley, Stephen Pooley, Hamish Purdy, Carl-Heinz Renker, Hans Renker, Jason Renker, Dean Rossmo, Joe Sala, Dennis Simard, Clark Simcoe, Dan Sissons, Jayson Solyom, Louis Solyom, Derek Staniszewski, Peter Stepa, Gordon Stewart, Peter Stratford, Gary Tehennepe, Dave Tennant, Bruce Timko, Adel Linda Will, Randy M. Will, K.E. Zelmer, Cal Barnett, Osheen Harruthoonyan
Sound Department Scott Aitken, David Betancourt, Thom Brennan, Eddie Bydalek, Mark Coffey, Dawn Fintor, Anthony J. Giacinti, Aaron Glascock, Alexandra Gonzales, Andrea Lakin, Michael Minkler, Oscar Mitt, Myron Nettinga, Kira Roessler, Curt Schulkey, George Simpson, Alicia Stevenson, Larry Sutton, Marvin Walowitz, David Abrahamsen, Eric Maran, David Yonson
Special Effects by Dillon Armitage, Dan Clark, James G. Fisher, David K shin Gendron, Ian Korver, Robert Rockhill, Randy Shymkiw, Kevin J. Andruschak, Shaun Noelte
Stunts Jeff Bough, Rick Burgess, Yves Cameron, Lauro David Chartrand-DelValle, Dean Choe, Duane Dickinson, Yvette Jackson, Ron James, Kristene Kenward, Ken Kirzinger, John MacCuspie, Kit Mallet, Pat McGillion, Mike Mitchell, Shawn C. Orr, Jacob Rupp, Marshall Virtue, Duane Dickinson
Camera and Electrical Department Steven A. Adelson, Artino Ahmadi, David Barritt, Justin Bergler, Hans Bjerno, Gregg Campbell, Andreas Carmona, Rob Chamryk, Dean Collins, Herb Crowder, Drew David, Drew Davidson, Ken Decker, John Dines, Jim Filippone, Gerry Ganger, Dan Gorval, David Goyer, Rob Graham, Scott Gray, Andy Guichon, Simon Hall, Dave Hamm, Taylor Matheson, Kevin McCloy, Rob McEwan, Lee Miller, Ryan Monro, Kim Olsen, Randy Peterson, Larry Portmann, Pete Romano, Derek Saari, John Sanderson, Ian Seabrook, Aki Shigematsu, Andrew Sych, Steve Vincent, Keith Woods, Steve Wright, Chad Band, Curt Griebel, Tammy Jones, Wally Pfister, Ian Smith
Casting Department Stephanie Boeke, Susan Taylor Brouse, Lynne Carrow, Angela Hamre, Julia Reid, Jamie Sparer Roberts
Costume and Wardrobe Department Derek J. Baskerville, Tess Brummitt, Karin Nosella, Sandra Watson
Editorial Department Kenny Becker, Jim Bruce, Cheryl Buckman, Amy Ferraris, Diane Fraser, Sheila MacDowell, Pablo Prietto, Fred Raskin, Keith Shaw, Shelly Theaker, Lucyna Wojciechowski, Laura Behary, Thor Roos, Kostas Theodosiou
Location Management Christopher Adams, Alan Bartolic, Will Fearn, Louisa Gradnitzer, Glen Lougheed, Ross Muirhead
Music Department Becky Bentham, Chris Cozens, Alex Gibson, Tom Hannen, Martyn Harry, Nick Ingman, Jake Jackson, David Julyan, Jill Meyers, Steve Orchard, Maggie Rodford, Mike Ross-Trevor, Gavyn Wright, Warren Zielinski, Mark Berrow, Mikael Sandgren, Bruce White
Script and Continuity Department Kelly Moon
Transportation Department Bob Black, Larry Boyce, Cliff Brown, Don Davey, Raymond Fairchild, Nigel Habgood, Glen Hunter, Lavine Journault, Jack Lopatinsky, Tom Mawyer, Ken Meier, Gary Morneau, Sylvia Nablo, Terry Noble, Bert Prevost, Frank Stastny, Glenn Steer, Guy Steer, Terry Storey, Ken Telford, Mark Voisin, Brian Waltho, Erin Wilson, Gary Wilson, Rick Demers, Paul Irvine
Additional Crew Martin Alcala, Barbara Beeby, Art Bennett, Jacque Blackstone, Adam Bryant, Phil Buhler, Charlene Callihoo, Billy Capucilli, Dwayne Christie, Lou Crisa, Dan Crosby, Jason Crosby, Peter Cummings, Andrzej Dec-Williams, Paul Duke, Lisa Eastham, Jeff R.A. Elliott, Christopher Fealy, Michael Feuerhelm, John Formichella, Steven Forster, Patricia Foster, Steve Foster, Julia Frittaion, Peter D. Gebhard, Michael Goldberg, Derek Guiley, Robyn Harwood, Danny Ho, Rae-Anne Horsley, Jamie Humphrey, Paul Jasper, Tim Judge, Lorne Kostyshin, Michele Lee, Kyle Leydier, Karen Lo, Gwen MacQueen, Caitlin Maloney, Andrew Marles, Bliss McDonald, Michelle McKay, Mike D. Meisner, Robert Milicevic, Chris Miller, Sam Montiforte, Eva Morgan, Amy Morrison, Ryan Nazar, Pat Nelson, Michael Pagliari, Dan Perri, Andrew Mark Rochfort, Cam Rolfe, Robyn Ross, Dale Sims, Molly Smith, Rebecca Erwin Spencer, Tom Stenner, Jamie Reid Tait, Jane Talbot, Zack Tebb-Day, Kelli Turner, Nancy Vibert, Kyle Weldon, Roger Williams, Chris Wilson, Daniel Zueff, Herb DeWaal, Kevin Field, Michael J. Harker, Marie Hock, Carla Spizziri, Scott Steyns, Lee Zamastil
Thanks Erik Skjoldbjærg
Genres Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Companies Alcon Entertainment, Witt/Thomas Productions, Section Eight
Countries USA, UK
Languages English
ContentRating R
ImDbRating 7.2
ImDbRatingVotes 298377
MetacriticRating 78
Keywords detective,police,homicide,insomnia,alaska