So today I stumbled on this great little video essay by Kevin B. Lee for Fandor Keyframe. It takes us on journey into one of the key sequences in the film Insomnia. Interestingly, it does so by giving a side-by-side comparison so that we can really drill down into exploring the differences that may be found between the original 1997 Norwegian version (featuring the always impressive Stellan Skarsgård as investigator Jonas Engström), and it’s 2002 Hollywood counterpart (featuring the stupendous Al Pacino as detective Will Dormer).
I think that the work is very well done, and I personally found that it highlights and emphasises what I wrote about in my previous post: when it comes to a thriller, “…we need good pacing. This is critical.” Honestly, I couldn’t have found a better illustration of how much influence pacing has… here we have the exact same story, and the exact same sequence being followed… and yet the emphasis by the directors in each makes for telling differences. Erik Skjoldbjærg is more deliberate, building tension through slower edits. Christopher Nolan on the other hand builds tension by increasing the pace, communicating a more frantic mood. Seriously, you will love this: what a difference timing can make!