The Great American Road Trip
Movie: Insomnia (2002)
(Note: The photographs here were taken by Alan Hull, and supplied by the blog My Itchy Travel Feet. Although they reflect the beauty of Alaska, they are not from the same area as the film.)
Two kinds of people live in Alaska. Those who were born here. And those who are running away from something. I was not born here.Hotel Manager, to Pacino.
Watching the movie, Insomnia, on my DVD player, I remembered that it has now been eight years since Ken and I put Alaska on our MUST SEE list. I think of Alaska as the ultimate road trip. I even have a copy of The Milepost: Alaska Travel Planner, 61st Edition (2009)–that guidebook of all guidebooks that carries you mile-by-mile up the various highways from the lower 48.
But we still have not gone. Even though this movie inspired us to plan the road trip. From the title credits with jagged surface of glacier in the background, to the opening aerial shots as a small sea plane swoops in to land, the scenery is astounding.
When we DO finally go, we will certainly take Kerry Dexter’s advice on what CDs to pop into the player. You can see Kerry’s Music for the Road recommendations at Music Road.
Now that I look more closely at the credits, I see that I must include British Columbia on the trip as well, (as The Milepost does)because although the aerial shots in the movie were Alaska, the town where the action took place was Squamish B.C. The lodge where visiting L.A. police officers (played by Al Pacino and Martin Donovan) stayed, stands in Squamish, and the town’s high school and police headquarters (where Hilary Swank’s character worked) were also used in the movie.
In addition, the eerie fog-shrouded chase scene was filmed at an inlet called Indian Arm near Vancouver, and the final scene, which takes place in a fishing cottage on a lake was near the tiny town of Stewart Glacier, B.C. on the Alaska/BC border. If the difficulties faced by movie makers interests you, read more about the filming of Insomnia and the challenges of working in these remote locations at the site, Celebrity Wonder. [Note: December 2012. This link is inacessible] That last scene survived deep snow, fluctuating water levels, breaking glaciers, no hotel rooms and an avalanche!
Let me hasten to add that this film is not just a pretty travelogue for Alaska and British Columbia, luring you on a road trip up north. The morality play plot keeps you awake, along with Pacino, whose saggy-baggy face gets ever more saggy as he cannot sleep. Light of the Midnight Sun variety and light of the “exposure” variety keeps him awake night after night. Hilary Swank turns in a lovely performance as the eager beaver young copy star-struck by the big name L.A. detective. And Robin Williams totally surprised me with a serious and deeply meaningful role as a mystery writer who weaves a real life tale as he jousts with the detective, Pacino.
My only minor complaint about the movie is that the focus on Pacino is done to excess. I could not believe that the entire police department of the Alaska town, not to mention his “partner” from L.A. would be relegated to a crowd following him around as he comes to brilliant conclusions and barked orders.
But it was great to re-visit this movie after eight years, and renew my pledge to make a road trip to Alaska.
Many thanks to Donna and Alan Hull for sharing their beautiful photos. You can read a bit about their Alaska experiences here.
Can you share your experiences traveling in Alaska? What should we put at the top of our see/do list? And if you have not been to Alaska, but are planning to go, tell us about that, too.