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The Man Without a Past (2002)

Mies vailla menneisyyttä (original title)
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 ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... M
... Irma
Juhani Niemelä ... Nieminen
Kaija Pakarinen ... Kaisa Nieminen
... Anttila
Annikki Tähti ... Manager of Flea Market
... Bar Owner
... Dock Clerk
... Bank Clerk
Esko Nikkari ... Bank Robber
Pertti Sveholm ... Police Detective
Matti Wuori ... Layer
Aino Seppo ... Ex-wife
... Ovaskainen
Antti Reini ... Electrician
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

1 March 2002 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Without a Past  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

FIM 8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$22,392 (Finland), 8 November 2002

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,281, 6 April 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$921,547, 21 September 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Nieminen: Rather small potatoes.
M: The weather was bad. But they will make a soup.
Nieminen: When did you plan to make it?
M: Why so interested?
Nieminen: I have an onion. You need it for the soup.
M: I've got eight potatoes. I must save three for winter and at least two as seed potatoes. We farmers must think of the coming years, too. We only eat what is left over. There is not enough for three. I want to invite Irma to dinner.
Nieminen: So none for me?
M: Right.
Nieminen: You're selfish.
M: I am a realist. You city people are children of the moment.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Laitakaupungin valot (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Thunder And Lightning (Myrskyn keskellä)
Performed by Marko Haavisto & Poutahaukat
(Marko Haavisto / Vesa Haaja)
Published by Love Music Publishing
(P) & © 2002 Sputnik/Johanna Kustannus
Licensed courtesy of Johanna Kustannus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unique, astounding piece of Finnish cinema
10 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

The Man Without a Past, the second installment in Aki Kaurismäki's "losers" trilogy (the first being 1996's Drifting Clouds), is, to date, the only Finnish film to have received a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination, and deservedly so. It's a wonderful, heartbreaking opus, and arguably Kaurismäki's finest movie.

At the story's center we find a nameless man (Markku Peltola), who arrives in Helsinki for unknown reasons. That same night, he's brutally assaulted by a group of punks. This incident makes him look dead, although we immediately learn he is alive, if completely amnesiac. With no idea of who he is or what he's supposed to do, he starts looking for a home and an employment. He manages to rent a "house" in the city outskirts (don't miss Sakari Kuosmanen as the landlord) and befriends Irma (Kati Outinen), a social worker who tries to help M (in lack of a better name, and given "X" is quite overused) as much as possible. It is this friendship, which slowly evolves into something deeper, that truly motivates the protagonist in his pursuit of a better life.

The Man Without a Past strikes us because, unlike other films involving amnesia, it makes us hope M won't recover his memory: what he experiences throughout the movie, the people he meets, that's what really matters. It's a little bit like a road movie (they never end with the characters reaching their destination), only this time the voyage involves the mind and the spirit. It's a similar voyage the director asks the audience to join, as he artfully explores human life and its chances of improvement.

Moving and reminiscent of Italian neorealism (De Sica, Rossellini, Visconti), The Man Without a Past is a flawless reflection on how happiness is to be found anywhere, no matter the circumstances.


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