Insomnia (1997 film)

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Insomnia
Insomnia-Poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg
Produced by Tomas Backstrom
Petter Borgli
Tom Remlov
Written by Erik Skjoldbjærg
Nikolaj Frobenius
Starring Stellan Skarsgård
Sverre Anker Ousdal
Bjørn Floberg
Gisken Armand
Maria Bonnevie
Music by Geir Jenssen
Cinematography Erling Thurmann-Andersen
Edited by Hakon Overas
Release date(s) 14 March 1997
Running time 95 minutes
Country Norway
Language Norwegian
Swedish

Insomnia is a 1997 Norwegian thriller film about a police detective investigating a murder in a town located above the Arctic Circle. The investigation goes horribly wrong when he mistakenly shoots his partner and subsequently attempts to cover up his bungle. The title of the film refers to his inability to sleep, the result of his guilt (represented by the relentless glare of the midnight sun). Insomnia was the film debut of director Erik Skjoldbjærg. The screenplay was written by Nikolaj Frobenius and Skjoldbjærg, and the soundtrack by Geir Jenssen (alias Biosphere).

The film inspired a 2002 Hollywood remake in English.

Critical reception[edit]

The film has been widely praised as a psychological study and "semi-noir".[1] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times compared it to the Dostoyevsky novel Crime and Punishment.[2] For the New York Times, Janet Maslin praised the principal performance by Skarsgård and added that "Mr. Skjoldbjærg's understated, elliptical direction keeps the material dangerous and volatile, with frequent small touches of the unexpected as Engstrom shows increasing signs of strain." [3]

Plot[edit]

When 17-year-old Tanja is found murdered in the city of Tromsø, far up in the Norwegian Arctic, Kripos police officers Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård) and Erik Vik (Sverre Anker Ousdal) are called in to investigate. Engström is a police inspector formerly with the Swedish Police Service who moved to Norway after being caught having sex with the main witness in one of his cases. Vik is nearing retirement age, and his memory is failing.

Engström devises a plan to lure the murderer back to the scene of the crime, but the stakeout is blown and the murder suspect flees into the fog. Events take a turn for the worse when the fugitive shoots one of the pursuing unarmed Norwegian police officers. Without telling his colleagues, however, Engström carries a gun from his days in the Swedish police, who routinely carry firearms. While shooting at what he believes to be the suspect, Engstrom accidentally kills Vik, who had mistakenly run right instead of left as ordered.

Engström initially tells the truth about the shooting, but realizes that everyone assumes that the fugitive shot Vik. He decides to conceal his culpability. When one of Engström's colleagues, Hilde Hagen (Gisken Armand), is assigned to investigate Vik's death, he becomes worried about ballistic fingerprinting and tampers with evidence to support his story. Haunted by guilt and unable to sleep with the midnight sun of the Arctic, Engström becomes increasingly unhinged and starts hallucinating about Vik. Things become even worse when he learns that Tanja's murderer saw him shoot Vik.

Engström learns from one of Tanja's friends that she has been seeing Jon Holt (Bjørn Floberg), a crime novelist. He correctly deduces that Holt killed Tanja, but Holt blackmails Engström with his knowledge of the Vik shooting. The two meet and decide to frame Tanja's boyfriend Eilert for her murder, with Engström later planting Holt's gun under Eilert's bed. However, Hagen is not convinced of Eilert's involvement, and when new evidence emerges, Engström knows that it's only a matter of time before Holt is arrested.

Engström tracks down Holt in the ruins at a waterfront and tries to talk with him. Holt suspects that Engström has come to kill him and holds him at gunpoint. He explains how he killed Tanja in a fit of rage when she rejected his advances. Holt tries to flee across a pier, but the rotten floorboards give way and he falls into the water below. He hits his head and drowns, while Engström looks on. When he rummages through Holt's nearby house, Engström finds Tanja's dress, which Holt removed before dumping the body. With Holt dead, and having found definitive proof that he was the murderer, the case is closed.

Just before he leaves town, Engström is visited by Hagen, who shows him a cartridge case found at the site where Vik was shot. She notes that it is a Norma case, which Engström confirms is a brand used by the Swedish police. Engström expects Hagen to arrest him, but she instead lets him off the hook and she leaves the cartridge case. However, when Engström is driving off, his face is weary, so are his eyes, suggesting that he didn't recover from the sleeping disorder.

Cast[edit]

Remake[edit]

Main article: Insomnia (2002 film)

A remake of the film was directed by Christopher Nolan. The film, featuring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank, was released in 2002.

References[edit]

  1. ^ In the Land of the Midnight Sun, epinions
  2. ^ Insomnia (1998) by Roger Ebert, 1998
  3. ^ Insomnia (1997) FILM REVIEW; A Private Nightmare In Days Without End, Janet Maslin, 1998

External links[edit]