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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?


In the bar scene there is a portrait photo of Matti Pellonpää on the wall. He played in numerous Kaurismäki films before his sudden death in 1995. 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: But if you don't pay, I'll send my killer dog to bite your nose off.
M: It only causes trouble, shadows the way wherever I go.
Anttila: You couldn't smoke in the shower anymore.
See more »


Followed by Lights in the Dusk (2006) 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

No Past, Pure in the Motion
29 October 2009 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Herzog introduced me to the tension created by moving back and forth from highly styled scenes to realistic ones in syncopated steps. It has an extraordinary effect; I do not know who first devised this technique, but it matters.

Sometimes, you will see it adding value on the real side. Rarely is it ever used this way, to multiply anchor a minimalist sketch of fate. Jarmusch does this, perhaps being the master, but this is pretty clean, novel and effective as well. Its because Fins are inherently minimalist in a particularly overt way. Stylized in a stylized way, perhaps to stand above its neighbors who value cleanliness but only after passing through terminal sophistication.

There is a sweet purity to this man we see, and the man we do not who made the thing. There is an honor in just getting up in the morning. The people here are either honest and generous — even the local cop who exploits the poor — or crippled participants in the machine. Everyone with a conventional job is in this latter class.

Just as with most Jarmusch, music and the enrichment it brings, is woven into the story as an intrinsic element. The music itself is highly stylized, and like the film is an abstraction of deep, rich emotion. It is played here by a Slavation Army band our hero brings to musical salvation. The love story matters I think, because it depends on nothing other than simple need and directness.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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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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