Insomnia (original Norwegian version), DVD
This 1997 film from Norway, made by director Erik Skjoldbjærg, delivers the goods with unsettling effectiveness. It's an intense, intelligent, and taut thriller. If possible, what the movie implies is creepier than the film's reality.
Opening with a churning, chilling murder of a young woman, Insomnia invites the viewer--as well as its protagonist, celebrated Oslo homicide cop Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård)--into the mind and thoughts of a killer by making Engström fatally flawed himself. While in pursuit of the murderer, Engström makes a mistake; he accidentally shoots his partner and friend and covers up his deed in a panic. But he overlooks a minor and very important detail: the real killer has seen him commit the crime.
What ensues is a layered, complex, and unnerving descent into chaos, brought on by the inability to sleep in this land of the midnight sun. Engström suffers from insomnia, which warps his logic and resolve, and before long he's totally unraveled and unsure of his every move. But not before a twisty transference and countertransference occurs between cop and killer. The two play a game of high-stakes one-upmanship that surprises in the end. Insomnia is fresh and psychologically bent, full of Scandinavian despair and dark humor, and it boasts a film noir pulse beneath its blinding light.
This movie has been remade with a stellar cast of international actors. Even so, the original Norwegian version is still extremely worthwhile. It is excellently filmed and feels extremely authentic. And Stellan Skarsgard does a marvellous job as the insomniac detective Engström as well.
- Actors: Stellan Skarsgård, Maria Mathiesen, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Gisken Armand, Kristian Figenschow
- Directors: Erik Skjoldbjærg
- Writers: Erik Skjoldbjærg, Nikolaj Frobenius
- Producers: Petter J. Borgli, Tom Remlov, Tomas Backström
- Format: PAL
- Language: Norwegian/Swedish
- Subtitles: English
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
Insomnia (Widescreen Edition) (2002)
The Hollywood remake of Insomnia by director Christopher Nolan is excellent as well, and offers ample proof that his skills are genuine. This superbly crafted remake of the 1997 Norwegian thriller takes place in a remote Alaskan town.
It is a moody police procedural where a veteran Los Angeles detective (Al Pacino) arrives to investigate the murder of a teenaged girl. Professional tragedy collides with psychological turmoil as the detective suffers from sleeplessness under the region's perpetual daylight, and a local rookie cop (Hilary Swank) begins to suspect that truths are being hidden as the disturbing case unfolds.
While the Alaskan setting intensifies the atmospheric mystery, Pacino's bleary-eyed disorientation adds a rich layer to his character's erratic behavior, and the casting of Robin Williams as the killer was a risk that pays off nicely. In many respects better than the original, Insomnia is a Hollywood remake that's refreshingly free of compromise.
- Actors: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Oliver 'Ole' Zemen, Martin Donovan
- Directors: Christopher Nolan
- Writers: Erik Skjoldbjærg, Hillary Seitz, Nikolaj Frobenius
- Producers: Andrew A. Kosove, Ben Cosgrove, Broderick Johnson, Charles J.D. Schlissel
- Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: French (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rating: R (Restricted)
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- DVD Release Date: October 15, 2002
- Run Time: 118 minutes
The Lake of the Damned (De dødes tjern) DVD
This is a classic Norwegian crime fiction movie, based on a novel by Norwegian author André Bjerke, writing as Bernhard Borge (the novel is not translated to English - but see De dodes tjern. The Dead Man's Pond). It is a psychological thriller about six students that travel out into a cabin in a desolate region of Norway, located next to an idyllic little inlet. They are gathered to discuss the disappearance of a common friend. Each seems to have his or her own theory about it.
One of the stories about this strange place is that a man murdered his sister and his lover here, and then drowned himself in the lake. It is also rumored that at night a crazy man can be heard screaming at a lake nearby the cabin. Then strange things start to happen.
The movie is considered by Norwegians to be one of the five best movies ever made in Norway, and the novel that it is based on as the second best crime fiction novel ever in Norway. The Lake of the Damned was Kåre Bergstrøm's breakthrough as a director.
It's a good and interesting movie.
- Actors: André Bjerke, Bjørg Engh, Erling Lindahl, Georg Richter, Henki Kolstad
- Directors: Kåre Bergstrøm
- Format: Import, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Subtitles: English, Norwegian
- Region: Region 2 (NB)
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Nordisk
- Run Time: 74 minutes