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Comments

Kyle Wilson

A couple elements I noticed in the movie which would not be in a Hollywood film was the simplicity of the film (very basic) and the lack of emotion from the characters in the film. The filming style used throughout the movie was very basic and lacked movement. The camera seemed to be very still when shooting, why do you believe the filmmaker chose to shoot the film in this style. In addition the actors did not express any emotion throughout the entire film. For example, when the main character was beaten and almost died, it seemed like he didn't care. He acted like it was just another day and went on with his life. What does the lack of emotion presented throughout the film represent?

Monique Ohanessian

Along with the music and monotonous acting techniques we discussed in class, there are a few other ways that this movie was different from what we would expect from a Hollywood movie. As Kyle pointed out, the camera work in The Man without a Past was very basic. The camera does not often take a perspective, as we are used to in American movies. It often just stands observing, not moving back and forth to show what one character may see. It is somewhat all observant, trying to take in everything, but almost nothing in particular, with a very objective view. Kaurismaki’s choice of actors and actresses was very un-Hollywood as well. His characters are not glamorized at all, and appear to be wearing little or no make-up. The costumes are very basic, and many of the characters where the same thing for much of the movie. The only character who we see as being somewhat good-looking or desirable is the estranged wife, who is not put in a very good light.
The questions I have about this are what Kaurismaki was trying to do by having such plain camera work and objective perspectives? And were his less than glamorous characters an attempt to make the audience focus on the story and not “stars”, which he seems to deem unnecessary, or were they meant to show his vision of impoverished Finns? Did he not make the time period clear in order to make the story and its stars appeal to Finns from multiple generations? Is Kaurismaki’s whole film a rejection of traditional film, or did he aim to just create a strong story, and reject only those aspects of film that detract from his message?

Travis Calhoun

While watching The Man Without a Past, I found myself distracted by the all of the feature mentioned previously. Yes, the acting and camera work were both very dry. It is my understanding that all of the actors used within this production were not the most known or popular. This just completes the the motif Kaurismaki is trying to convey... simplicity.

The lack of distractions like explosions, bright colors, constant music, etc. lead one to think the theme is purposefully plain.

Monique and Kyle already mentioned the same particulars of the film I noticed. Lighting, music, and camerawork are all very non-Hollywood. Another feature that is tied into each of these is the transition of one scene to another by means of camerawork, music, lighting, or a common line by an actor. One watching any modern Hollywood movie will notice the use of different camera angles used (or panning of a camera to show a change in time/ place/ point of view); this film did not. Music is used to show a change too. This film used music that one character was listening to and then continued it through the next scene. Lighting is also used to show a change in time or place. I can not recall a moment in the film when this was done.

Why do you suppose the director limited his transition medium? If the theme of simplicity is used, why use any transitions?

Kirk Heinrich

While most of the qualities which separate this film from a Hollywood film have been stated I noticed one other minor trait. For a Finnish film I noticed the music used often included Finnish and American music. There are very few Hollywood films today that incorporate foreign music. The only times that I have noticed foreign music is when the storyline is dealing in cultural themes or the setting happens to be international. I don't think was necessarily done to convey a message or mood by the Director. I think it is just an example of globalization and the spreading influence of American culture.

However, I did want to comment on some of the previously mentioned traits. I think we can take a look at Aki Kaurismäki and consider him a “realist” of today. Many times I have observed people after seeing a summer blockbuster and they leave the theater commenting on how fake or unrealistic the film or certain scenes were. All in all we could consider Hollywood films to be exaggeration of reality versus depictions of reality. With Aki choosing to shoot his films blandly, he is approaching a relatively accurate depiction of someone’s reality. He presents us with a small community of poor Finnish people, why should we be so surprised that they talk monotonously or seem depressed? The lighting, makeup and shot selection is also used to establish and bring us into their realities. Quick cuts and transitions and a heavy musical score would only bring energy and action to a film that is trying to present a slowed and lackluster lifestyle.

Deven Rice

I agree with what has been commented on regarding simplicity. The lack of special effects and emotions are obviously used to show this. Maybe the reason Aki did this was to have all attention on the plot of the movie instead of creating distractions. For me this worked, however, I found myself guessing a bunch throughout the film. For example, I couldn't figure out till the end if this was based in the present or the past. I wondered if people really lived like that, day to day in a cargo container. Also, it was weird to see that woman push around her husband instead of vise versa. I guess Aki did the film like this, not only for simplicity, but also to make people wonder and ask questions. Something that hasn't been mentioned about the film that differs from Hollywood is the selection of actors and actresses. The charectors were not very good looking. Hollywood would most likely of casted two very attractive people to play the two main charectors. Why do you think this was done? I don't feal it was done in order for it to be more realistic beacause the movie is not realistic. What do you think?

Kyle Wilson

After reading some of the posts made about the movie and thinking about the style Aki Kaurismaki used in his movie, why would he not utilize the current technological innovations in use for curent hollywood movies? The techniques and the current technology used to make movies in hollywood makes for a much more enjoyable movie due to the special effects and camera angles which allow the viewer to feel apart of movie, as if the viewer is part of the action taking place on teh movie screen.

Mariya Marinova

I also think that the movie was not very realistic - of course it is relatively realistic compared to the man-saves-the-universe Hollywood blockbusters, but I don't think it attempts to represent present day Finland as it is. I think it's amusing that Kaurismaki chooses to draw such a gloomy picture of one of the best developed countries nowadays - for example, I've read that in the last couple of years Finland was among the top-ranking countries with lowest corruption rates, but the cop in the movie hardly fits that image. Why in your opinion does the director do that? Is it because he wants to remind people of Finland's difficult past, warn them not to take well-being for granted? Or maybe he wants to show us that people can be happy leading a quite simple life. What do you think?

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