Like his films, Christopher Nolan is intelligent and insightful. I spoke with him on May 5, 2002, shortly before the release of his third film, INSOMNIA, his first for a studio and his first directed from a script he himself did not write. Nolan waxed eloquent on the virtues of ambiguity, the importance of casting, and the sly way he plays on an audience’s perceptions. For my question about the name of the character Al Pacino plays in INSOMNIA, you need to know that Dormer is French for “to sleep.” We also on to discuss subversive way he uses light, the not always subversive way he cast INSOMNIA, and the counter-intuitive quality of mixing chocolate and pretzels.
Pacino plays an LAPD detective suffering from the eponymous condition. He’s sent above the arctic circle to solve a murder mystery during the summer, when the sun never sets. The inability to tell day from night is a key part of the storytelling, keeping the audience as off-kilter as Dormer himself, and eventually making all that sunlight as oppressive, and as creepy, as any crepuscular landscape. The film co-stars Robin Williams, Marin Donovan, and Hilary Swank. Nolan directed from a script by Hillary Seitz, based on the Swedish film of the same name by Nikolah Frobenius and Erik Skholdbjaerg. Nolan’s previous work includes the mind-bending FOLLOWING and MEMENTO.