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The Man Without a Past (2002)

Mies vailla menneisyyttä (original title)
M arrives in Helsinki only to be viciously attacked by thugs and pronounced dead by medics. He revives but with no memory of his past or his identity. He rebuilds his life from scratch, but the past inevitably catches up with him.


Aki Kaurismäki


Aki Kaurismäki
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Markku Peltola ... M
Kati Outinen ... Irma
Juhani Niemelä Juhani Niemelä ... Nieminen
Kaija Pakarinen ... Kaisa Nieminen
Sakari Kuosmanen ... Anttila
Annikki Tähti Annikki Tähti ... Manager of Flea Market
Anneli Sauli ... Bar Owner
Elina Salo ... Dock Clerk
Outi Mäenpää ... Bank Clerk
Esko Nikkari ... Bank Robber
Pertti Sveholm Pertti Sveholm ... Police Detective
Matti Wuori Matti Wuori ... Layer
Aino Seppo Aino Seppo ... Ex-wife
Janne Hyytiäinen ... Ovaskainen
Antti Reini ... Electrician


The second part of Aki Kaurismäki's "Finland" trilogy, the film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or anything from his past life, he cannot get a job or an apartment, so he starts living on the outskirts of the city and slowly starts putting his life back on track. Written by Jussi Tarvainen <jussi_tarvainen_84@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Chosen by "Telerama" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2002 (#01, tied with "Hable con ella") See more »


The Helsinki railway station's extension roof is clearly visible at the opening scene, but it hadn't been build yet in 1996 (the year can be read from the newspaper). See more »


Anttila: Tickets.
M: What do you mean?
Anttila: You haven't paid.
M: But I organized this.
Anttila: That's what you think.
M: Is that so?
Anttila: Yes.
M: Fancy that.
Anttila: That's outrageous!
M: It is, isn't it?
See more »


Follows Drifting Clouds (1996) See more »


Valkoiset linnut
Performed by Markus Allan
(Markus Allan / Veikko Juntunen)
Lyrics: Pauli Ylitalo
Arranger: Taisto Wesslin
Published by Sputnik Oy
(P) & © 1997 Sputnik Oy
Licensed courtesy of Sputnik Oy
See more »

User Reviews

Utterly delightful
24 July 2004 | by artzauSee all my reviews

This film is about as fast paced as Finnish films get, I guess. Don't look for a lot of facial expressions and a lot of overt body language because you ain't gonna get it. The film moves slowly like a Saami joiking in the sauna but it wonderful to behold with each deliberate step it takes. The characters may seem a little stiff to those of us unfamiliar with the inscrutable Finns but the great Finnish reserve which overlays the story line is tweaking at our whiskers at every shuffle forward in the story. It is really amazing that we have not seen other Finnish works before. This kind of off-the-wall story which has a wonderful basis of humanity underneath the more real than life characters clustered around a site with little or no conveniences of modern living in their sea container households. The odyssey of M who wanders through his voyage in search of himself only to be reconciled not with his long suffering and long awaiting Penelope but with a frustrated but good-hearted Major Barbara.

There are lots of puns visual and otherwise with the threads of incompetent cops, doctors, nurses, employment office workers interwoven with a comical wannabe bad-guy overseer, a rock'n roll Salvation Army band, a torch-songstress SA Major and the philosophical hero who honestly can't remember.

Check this one out without fail. It's pure fun...but just don't expect it run along at breakneck speed ala Hollywood...!

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Finland | Germany | France



Release Date:

1 March 2002 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Without a Past See more »

Filming Locations:

Verkkosaari, Helsinki, Finland See more »


Box Office


FIM8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,281, 6 April 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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