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  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Swedish Dolby Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
  • Norwegian trailer and TV spot, both with optional English subtitles


1999 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Erik Skjoldbjærg
Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Bjørn Floberg, Gisken Armand, Maria Bonnevie, Kristian Fr. Figenschow, Thor Michael Aamodt, Bjørn Moan, Marianne O. Ulrichsen, Frode Rasmussen, Maria Mathiesen
1997 | 97 Minutes | Licensor: Castle Hill Productions

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #47 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 27, 1999
Review Date: October 4, 2008

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Disgraced Swedish detective Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård) travels to northern Norway to solve a brutal murder in Insomnia. Unable to sleep through the night of the midnight sun, Engström quickly loses his grip on the case and his mind. Erik Skjoldbjærg's debut feature is a deft amalgam of psychological thriller, morality play, and police procedural. Criterion presents the DVD premiere of Insomnia in a new widescreen transfer.

Forum members rate this film 7.1/10


Discuss the film and DVD here   


Insomnia marked Criterion’s first anamorphic release. The film is presented in the aspect ratio of about 1.78:1 (despite the packaging stating 1.85:1) on this dual-layered disc.

I remember being blown away when first seeing this release back in 1999, but now it doesn’t quite live up to some of Criterion’s anamorphic transfers over the past few years. Sharpness and detail varies throughout, close ups looking pretty good but longer shots looking a little softer. The colour scheme to the film is rather muted but they look nicely saturated, flesh tones looking accurate. Brighter sequences look the best overall and some of the darker scenes look a little murky.

The print is good condition (just a few marks) but since the film was so new at the time of this disc’s release that isn’t a surprise.

At the time this was actually one of Criterion’s best looking transfers but now, compared with their recent transfers, it comes off as one of their more average releases.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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The disc comes with a Dolby Surround track, though there is an odd issue with it. The first layer of the movie looks to only utilize the two front speakers, while the second layer then fills out the rest of the speakers (spread across the front three and then the two rears working together.) An odd issue, but since the film’s soundtrack isn’t all that active it’s not a huge deal. The film is quiet for the most part and even when the surrounds kick in the audio still sticks to the fronts.

Audio quality is pretty good, dialogue sounding clear and natural, and the film’s unique soundtrack sounds great.

The quality is good, but that one technical issue is a little distracting (though your receiver should allow you to set it up to spread the audio through all the speakers anyways.)



Other than a Norwegian trailer and TV spot, there’s nothing on the disc. A rather sparse essay by Peter Cowie is found on the insert included but it doesn’t really offer much of anything.



It’s a disappointing release overall but unfortunately it’s the only way to get the film in region 1. The video transfer is still quite good even if it’s not up to Criterion’s recent standards, but the audio glitch and the lack of supplements sort of kill the release. Throw in the fact it’s still priced at $30 and that makes this release one I can’t fully recommend.

View packaging for this DVD


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