In the range of Christopher Nolan’s films, ‘Insomnia’ is far more satisfying than any of the ‘Dark Knight’ films. Why do I say that? Well, there’s a concentration of hardened talent in the one, versus younger, less proven or battle-tested talents in the latter series. The former film seeks to tell a story, while the latter series seeks to impress, through volume, set-design, special effects, and sheer enormity. The former is a tale of psychology, of different modes of desperation, while the latter series builds on a story-line, or maybe a mythos, which is on it way to being spent. This Fandor video essay by Kevin B. Lee looks at Nolan’s 2002 ‘Insomnia‘ alongside Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s 1997 original. Both transfix us, but by different methods; what the comparison shows is that Skjoldbjaerg remains, even at the film’s most intense moments, at an arm’s length from the action, always intent on having us gaze on the events occurring onscreen rather than immersing us in them–while Nolan takes quite the opposite approach. As Lee shows in this meticulous, methodical piece of work, every move Nolan makes–with visual effects, use of silence, use of noise, pacing–is designed to plunge us inwards, even if the film is hardly blockbuster-level in its throat-grabbing urge. Given that approach, and given the skill and subtlety Nolan used in telling this tale, his work proves rewardingly re-watchable in this case, not so much in the case of his more widely known movies.
Watch: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’ (2002) vs. Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s ‘Insomnia’ (1997): Two Cultures