The Man Without a Past (Mies Vailla Menneisyyttä) (2002)

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Released 20-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Chaos, Satin Rouge, Sweet Sixteen, Yi Yi,
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 92:46 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Aki Kaurismäki
Sharmill Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Markku Peltola
Kati Outinen
Juhani Niemelä
Kaija Pakarinen
Sakari Kuosmanen
Annikki Tähti
Anneli Sauli
Elina Salo
Outi Mäenpää
Esko Nikkari
Pertti Sveholm
Matti Wuori
Aino Seppo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Ken Yokoyama

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Finnish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Man Without a Past is the second film in Aki Kaurismäki's Finland Trilogy, which he wrote as well as directed.

    The story opens with a man arriving in Helsinki. Sitting on a park bench at night, he is viciously attacked by three hoods, who beat him badly and leave him for dead. Staggering into the railway station, the man collapses. In the hospital, he appears to die. But after the nurse has left to call the morgue, the man awakens and leaves the hospital swathed in bandages.

    A poor couple who live in a old shipping container find him on a beach. They take him in and nurse him back to health. However, he has lost all memory of his past. The film tells the story of how he copes with his predicament and rebuilds his life.

    The Man Without a Past is filled with Kaurismäki's trademark wry humour, and a deep affection for his characters. The deadpan, expressionless delivery of some melodramatic lines adds to the humour, and the performances by Markku Peltola as the man, and Kati Outinen as Salvation Army officer Irma are excellent. The money-hungry but humane security guard Anttila (Sakari Kuosmanen) is an inspired creation. His vicious attack dog Hannibal is something to behold.

    This is an excellent film, perhaps not quite up to the standard of the previous film in this series, Drifting Clouds, but still several cuts above standard cinema fare.

    Note that the spine of the case simply has the title The Man on it, which may make this hard to find in closely stacked shelves.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is quite sharp, though not perfectly so. Some attempt has been made to increase the sharpness through the use of edge enhancement, but fortunately this has not been overdone. There are some small examples at 7:02 and 12:00, and if I was not looking out for it I would not have noticed it. I did not have any trouble with the amount of detail in shadows. Colours were muted, but I think this was an artistic decision on the part of the filmmakers.

    I only saw one film artefact, a black spot at 70:10. Otherwise this was a very clean and clear print, with a small amount of grain. There was some aliasing on the grille of a car at 20:26. Apart from this example this artefact was absent.

    This is a single layered disc, despite the jacket saying that it is a dual-layered DVD 9.

    English subtitles are provided, but they cannot be switched off, which may be annoying to Finnish speakers. The subtitles are easy to read, with the characters in white with a black border. Some of the phrasing is archaic, and I am not sure if this reflects the original dialogue or the quality of the translation.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only audio track, Dolby Digital 2.0 in the Finnish language.

    This is an excellent audio track, with no glitches whatsoever. Dialogue is clear, though I could not comment on its intelligibility, not being versed in the language.

    The fine and appropriate music score is compiled from recordings, ranging from Leevi Madetoja's Third Symphony to American R&B to traditional Finnish ballads.

    Listening to the soundtrack with Dolby ProLogic decoding revealed some sound information from the centre, rear channels and subwoofer, at the expense of loss of the front soundstage. This destroys the atmosphere generated by the 2.0 soundtrack, so I could not recommend listening to the soundtrack in this fashion.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Photo Gallery

    20 photos from the production. 19 are of scenes from the film, the last is of the director. These photographs are all 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13)

    The trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is not 16x9 enhanced. The subtitles are burned in, in a different and smaller font than the feature.

Madman Propaganda

    Four trailers for other Madman releases. This really should be under an Advertisements option on the menu, rather than under Extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has reached DVD in several regions. In comparison to the Region 1 release, the Region 4 release misses out on;

    In comparison to the Region 4 release, the Region 1 misses out on:

    According to reviews, the surround channels are not used very much in the 5.0 soundtrack, so I would not consider this much of an advantage over the Region 4 2.0 track. In fact, I would hazard a guess that the 2.0 track is the original audio format, given that the Finnish release is in 2.0. However, if you prefer your transfers without PAL speed-up and are willing to pay extra for a surround track, then the Region 1 would win over the Region 4.


    Another excellent Kaurismäki film, well worth watching and presented on a pretty good DVD.

    The video quality is above average.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are acceptable but not very generous.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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