Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia Was Never Meant To Be A ‘Follow-Up’ To Memento

For his first studio project, Nolan joined up with Warner Bros. for the 2002 crime thriller “Insomnia.” A remake of a 1997 Norwegian movie, the film starred Al Pacino as LA detective Will Dormer, who travels to Nightmute, Alaska to help investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Dormer, who’s under Internal Affairs investigation himself for his conduct on previous cases, zeroes in on the murderer, Walter Finch, played by Robin Williams who was at the time in full ‘dramatic role’ mode, having also starred as loner photo technician Seymour Parrish in “One Hour Photo” that same year.

And while the film had similarities to “Memento” with its similarly unreliable narrator who begins to question his own mental processes, “Insomnia” was a much more conventional movie. In fact, it remains Nolan’s most conventional film 20 years later. Considering the director’s love for detective fiction it makes sense that he would be drawn to the crime thriller, especially considering it contained what he called (via MovieWeb) a “fascinating and very evocative psychological situation.” But it still stands out as a remarkably non-Nolan-esque entry in the director’s filmography, and a departure from the creative filmmaking of “Memento.”

Perhaps that’s why Nolan doesn’t really see it as a true follow-up to his breakout film. Asked about why he chose “Insomnia” after having such success with “Memento” he said:

“To be honest I started work on Insomnia some months before ‘Memento’ was even released in theaters, so I wasn’t really having to view ‘Insomnia’ necessarily as a follow-up in the sense that people would question it because no one really knew the extent ‘Memento’ would get out there at the time. I thought I should be free to do whatever inspired me and took my fancy. I found the original movie very inspiring.”

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