Features and Columns · Movies

Is Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’ a Successful Remake?

Eh, maybe we’ll sleep on it.
Christopher Nolan Insomnia Remake
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on July 22nd, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that compares 1997’s Insomnia and Christopher Nolan’s 2002 remake.


Since the Nordic Noir adaptation boom of the 2010s, it’s been kind of a given that Scandinavian thrillers are a shoo-in as Hollywood adaptation source material. While The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the most obvious example, Hollywood can’t keep its sun-kissed hands out of the Nordic thriller section even to this day. There was just a remake of Den skyldige starring Jake Gyllenhaal at TIFF last year.

But long before Hollywood-ized Nordic thrillers flooded our streaming services, we had Insomnia. Adapting Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 film debut of the same name in 2002, Christopher Nolan (hot off Memento) brought the twisty, midnight sun-set thriller to American audiences. The film had big Hollywood A-listers (Al Pacino! Robin Williams! Hilary Swank!), and it is, as the video essay below notes, popularly considered a “lesser” Nolan film.

Both Insomnias begin with the same premise. We follow an anti-hero cop as they investigate the brutal murder of a young teen, thought to be the latest victim of a seasoned killer. Meanwhile, our protagonist (played by Stellan Skarsgård in the 1997 original and Pacino in the 2002 remake) struggles with the twists and turns of the case, his personal demons, and the hellish realities of working in a part of the world flooded with constant sunlight.

The following video essay sets out to compare the two films. Particularly with a mind to the changes Nolan and screenwriter Hillary Seitz made to the source material. Enjoy, and for the love of whatever Nordic god you please, go watch the 1997 original. It’s very good.

Watch “Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia | Original vs. Remake”:


Who made this?

This video comparing the original Insomnia and its remake comes from the fine folks over at Little White Lies. The above video was scripted and edited by Leigh Singer. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here and subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).