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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 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?


This film won the London Evening Standard's "Palm Dog" award at the Cannes Film Festival for the best animal role. The winning dog's name, aptly, is Tähti ("Star" in Finnish). 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 »


M: I take it you have space for rent?
Anttila: Does the seagull have wings? Does the wolf howl of his loneliness in the woods at night?
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Performed by Tapio Rautavaara
(Tapio Rautavaara)
Published by Sointu
(P) 1946 Sointu
See more »

User Reviews

Simple virtues!
4 May 2003 | by rosscinemaSee all my reviews

This is the first Aki Kaurismaki film that I have seen and it is the second film in a trilogy. I definitely want to see the first one now and I plan on seeing the third whenever it comes to my neck of the woods. Film is a very simple story of a man (Markku Peltola) who while waiting for a train goes to a park and falls asleep on a park bench. Three thugs come along and beat and rob him. He is so beaten that when he wakes up in a hospital he has amnesia. We never do find out his name! He leaves the hospital and has no where to go. A very poor family living in a metal container take him in and try to help him. He goes to the Salvation Army for free food and an opportunity to work small jobs and its there that he meets Irma (Kati Outinen) and is attracted to her. The film follows this man as he romances Irma and works odd jobs. Its all presented in a very dry and droll comedic fashion. All the characters are very emotionless no matter what the circumstances are and in some ways its reminiscent of the films that Jacques Tati use to make. In one scene in a bank a robber enters and shoots a broken security camera and the teller and our protagonist all act very calm and very polite. At the heart of this film is even though the characters are very quiet they are very helpful of one another and seem to care for each other. I have heard that all of Kaurismaki films are like this and its been nicknamed "Aki's world". Kaurismaki is a very unique filmmaker and the way he presents his characters is in contrast to the bleak area that they live in. Even though the film and the characters are laid back in their attitude, the romance between the man and Irma shouts of passion. Their affection and fondness for one another doesn't need words. It rings loud and clear!

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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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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