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directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg
Norway 1997

 

In this elegantly unsettling murder mystery, Stellan Skarsgård plays an enigmatic Swedish detective with a checkered past who arrives in a small town in northern Norway to investigate the death of a teenage girl. As he digs deeper into the facts surrounding the heinous killing, his own demons and the tyrannical midnight sun begin to take a toll. The success of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s chilling procedural anticipated the international hunger for Scandinavian noirs and serial- killer fictions, and the film features one of Skarsgård’s greatest performances.

Posters etc.

Theatrical Release: September 7th, 1997 - Toronto Film Festival

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Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 47 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 47
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:54 1:36:17.813
Video 1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,545,243,524 bytes

Feature: 26,712,139,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Norwegian / Swedish (Dolby Digital 2.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio Norwegian 2104 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2104 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion / Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Norwegian trailer and TV spot, both with optional English subtitles
• 6 page liner-notes 

DVD Release Date: July 27th, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 21

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

1.85:1 / 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 39,545,243,524 bytes

Feature: 26,712,139,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• New conversation between director Erik Skjoldbjærg and actor Stellan Skarsgård (20:57)
• Two short films by Skjoldbjærg: Near Winter (1993 - 34:06) and Close to Home (1994 - 30:35)
• Trailer (1:14)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Jonathan Romney

DVD of the feature

Blu-ray Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 17

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-rays (July 2014): Wow - what an upgrade. This is from a new 4K digital restoration! and it looks significantly different from the 1999 Criterion DVD. Generally contrast improves and the 1080P (dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate) is brighter and shows much more detail. This is in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and shows more information on the side edges than the old SD, 1.78:1, transfer (Criterion's first anamorphic DVD!). The HD transfer still retains some of the film's inherent thickness and has some texture. It was like seeing the film - for the first time.

The audio is transferred via an uncompressed DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo at 2104 kbps in original Norwegian. There are gunfire effects that export some depth and the score by Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) sounds very atmospheric supporting the film extremely well adding a deep layer of suspense. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

Criterion add supplements from their 15-year old DVD with a new, 21-minute, conversation between director Erik Skjoldbjærg and actor Stellan Skarsgard - recorded by Criterion in Oslo in January 2014. They talk about the making of Insomnia, including the development of teh script, the creation of the lead character of Engstrom, and their interest in inverting the genre norms of film noir. There are also two short films by Skjoldbjærg: Near Winter (1993 - 34:06) and Close to Home (1994 - 30:35). Skjoldbjærg was the first Norwegian to attend the National Film School in London, where he graduated in 1994. While there he directed these two shorts, among others. Criterion include a trailer, a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Jonathan Romney and the dual-layered package has a DVD of the feature with all the extras of the Blu-ray.

Superb release from Criterion. I saw this because of their DVD and I always remember it. I am so happy to have this Blu-ray in my possession. Insomnia is a film I can watch repeatedly. Our highest recommendation!

***

 

ON THE DVD: A relatively early Criterion disc (their first anamorphic!) whose image, like all Criterion releases, is HD sourced. I understand that the film was shot in a very similar manner to this DVD appearance - heavily contrasted areas with apparent saturation. It is very dark at times and it tends to look very smeary and DNR'ed.

Audio is the original 2.0 track and the subtitles (one of Criterions hallmarks)  are perfect - a white font with black border can be seen with any background. Extras are only a a trailer and TV Spot and some liner notes. I enjoyed the more recent Al Pacino/Robin Williams version, but this original has a wonderful haunting claustrophobic sense to it that is more indicative of the story's text. Quite unforgettable. Stellan Skarsgård is excellent.  

 Gary W. Tooze





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Box Covers

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 47 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 47
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray



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