THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST

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Violence        
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Release Date: April 04, 2003

Starring: Markku Peitola, Kati Outinen,
and Juhani Niemela

Genre: Drama

Audience: Teenagers and adults REVIEWER:
Dr. Ted Baehr THE MAN WITHOUT
A PAST has gotten rave reviews
and won kudos at the Cannes
Film Festival last year. This
is surprising for two reasons.
One, it is almost like a home
movie, although it is very
winsome. Two, it is
unabashedly pro-Christian and
pro-Salvation Army. The movie
opens on a train with a man
rolling a cigarette. He gets
off in Helsinki, walks to a
park bench and falls asleep on
his suitcase. Three gang
members come up and take
CLOCKWORK ORANGE like pleasure
in beating him to a pulp with
a steel rod while kicking him
with their boots. Somehow he
struggles back into the train
station, and the washroom
attendant calls an
ambulance. The doctor in the
hospital thinks that he's
dead. The EKG shows no signs
of life, but after a few
minutes, the man gets up,
straightens his broken nose
and walks down to the water,
where he collapses. To add
insult to injury, an old
vagrant steals his boots. Two
boys find him and take him
back to their mother and
father, who live in a metal
shipping container on the edge
of the water. This is a sparse
community of homeless people.
The mother nurses him back to
health, but when he finally
speaks, he admits that he
knows nothing about his past.
This of course means that he
can't get a job, rent a
shipping container from the
local thug, who runs the
homeless community, or open a
bank account. The Salvation
Army, however, gives him a
clean set of clothes and a
job. He starts to fall for one
of the women in the SA. They
develop a kind and gentle
friendship. When he goes to
open a bank account, a bank
robber holds him up as well as
the teller in the bank. After
the robbery, the police throw
him in jail for refusing to
give his name and social
security number. The Salvation
Army attorney gets him out.
The police report locates his
wife. He leaves his beloved
Salvation Army worker and
heads north to go back home,
where he finds that his wife
has divorced him. Evidently,
he was a very prosperous metal
worker with a beautiful home.
He forgives his wife and heads
back to the vagrant community
in Helsinki. There's a lot
happening in THE MAN WITHOUT A
PAST. It reveals a country
that has forgotten its
Christian heritage. It overtly
presents an allegory of a man
who has to die to self. The
old man was mean and violent.
The new man is kind and
gentle. Overt references to
Jesus, to God's mercy and
God's love continue throughout
the movie. There seems to be a
glossing over of God's
justice, though at the end the
gang that beat the man without
a past up gets their
comeuppance. There's the
suggestion that his
relationship with the
Salvation Army worker may have
gone beyond a kiss, but
nothing is shown, and, at the
end, he proposes to her. THE
MAN WITHOUT A PAST has some
very funny scenes in it,
especially when the thug who
runs the homeless community
tells his dog Hannibal to
attack the man without a past,
and the dog just lies down on
the man's bed. There are also
some very poignant moments,
especially when he tries to
teach the Salvation Army band
how to play rock and roll so
they can become more relevant.
There's no foul language, but
there is intense violence when
the man is beaten by the gang
and later when the gang beats
up another vagrant. This movie
is almost a Dogme film in its
simplicity. It is clearly made
on a low budget. There are a
few obvious script problems,
and a few moments when the
characters don't know what to
do. However, THE MAN WITHOUT
A PAST is so heartwarming and
winsome, captivating and
unique that it has drawn rave
reviews from a broad spectrum
of critics. What a joy it is
to see the Gospel proclaimed
and Christians commended in
such a wonderful way. Please
address your comments
to: Michael Barker, Tom
Bernard & Marcie
Bloom Co-Presidents Sony
Pictures Classics 550 Madison
Avenue, 8th Floor New York, NY
10022 Phone: (212)
833-8833 Web Page:
www.spe.sony.com

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 97 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Aki Kaurismaki

Executive Producer:

Producer: Aki Kaurismaki

Writer: Aki Kaurismaki

Address Comments To:

Content:

(CC, VV, A, D, M) Strong Christian worldview on both an allegorical and an overt level, with a positive portrait of the Salvation Army; no foul language; strong violence including gang beats a man unconscious, blood drips from man as he tries to make it into a train station washroom and another horrendous beating toward the end of the movie, bank robber with shotgun locks teller and protagonist in vault; one kiss; social drinking and man drinks beer to get drunk; constant smoking; and, pictures of poverty, homelessness and stealing.

GENRE: Drama

CC

VV

A

D

M

Summary:

THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST is a winsome allegory about a man who changes his life when a severe beating leaves him with amnesia. THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST is heartwarming and captivating, with a Christian worldview that takes a positive view of the Salvation Army.

Review:

THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST has gotten rave reviews and won kudos at the Cannes Film Festival last year. This is surprising for two reasons. One, it is almost like a home movie, although it is very winsome. Two, it is unabashedly pro-Christian and pro-Salvation Army.

The movie opens on a train with a man rolling a cigarette. He gets off in Helsinki, walks to a park bench and falls asleep on his suitcase. Three gang members come up and take CLOCKWORK ORANGE like pleasure in beating him to a pulp with a steel rod while kicking him with their boots. Somehow he struggles back into the train station, and the washroom attendant calls an ambulance.

The doctor in the hospital thinks that he's dead. The EKG shows no signs of life, but after a few minutes, the man gets up, straightens his broken nose and walks down to the water, where he collapses. To add insult to injury, an old vagrant steals his boots. Two boys find him and take him back to their mother and father, who live in a metal shipping container on the edge of the water. This is a sparse community of homeless people.

The mother nurses him back to health, but when he finally speaks, he admits that he knows nothing about his past. This of course means that he can't get a job, rent a shipping container from the local thug, who runs the homeless community, or open a bank account.

The Salvation Army, however, gives him a clean set of clothes and a job. He starts to fall for one of the women in the SA. They develop a kind and gentle friendship.

When he goes to open a bank account, a bank robber holds him up as well as the teller in the bank. After the robbery, the police throw him in jail for refusing to give his name and social security number. The Salvation Army attorney gets him out.

The police report locates his wife. He leaves his beloved Salvation Army worker and heads north to go back home, where he finds that his wife has divorced him. Evidently, he was a very prosperous metal worker with a beautiful home. He forgives his wife and heads back to the vagrant community in Helsinki.

There's a lot happening in THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST. It reveals a country that has forgotten its Christian heritage. It overtly presents an allegory of a man who has to die to self. The old man was mean and violent. The new man is kind and gentle. Overt references to Jesus, to God's mercy and God's love continue throughout the movie.

There seems to be a glossing over of God's justice, though at the end the gang that beat the man without a past up gets their comeuppance. There's the suggestion that his relationship with the Salvation Army worker may have gone beyond a kiss, but nothing is shown, and, at the end, he proposes to her.

THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST has some very funny scenes in it, especially when the thug who runs the homeless community tells his dog Hannibal to attack the man without a past, and the dog just lies down on the man's bed. There are also some very poignant moments, especially when he tries to teach the Salvation Army band how to play rock and roll so they can become more relevant. There's no foul language, but there is intense violence when the man is beaten by the gang and later when the gang beats up another vagrant.

This movie is almost a Dogme film in its simplicity. It is clearly made on a low budget. There are a few obvious script problems, and a few moments when the characters don't know what to do.

However, THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST is so heartwarming and winsome, captivating and unique that it has drawn rave reviews from a broad spectrum of critics. What a joy it is to see the Gospel proclaimed and Christians commended in such a wonderful way.

Please address your comments to:

Michael Barker, Tom Bernard & Marcie Bloom

Co-Presidents

Sony Pictures Classics

550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10022

Phone: (212) 833-8833

Web Page: www.spe.sony.com

In Brief: