A Walk Among the Tombstones, while being from 2014, is set in 1999, as mentioned at the beginning of the film as well as in repeated references to the "millenium bug" hysteria in newspapers. But since the Lawrence Block novel it is based on is from 1992, I wondered why the filmmakers deliberately decided to set it in 1999, rather than either the present time or the novel's original time.

I thought about possible technological limitations, but Scudder's reluctance to use a cell phone or the internet has more of a personal reason than a technological one and he does use a cell phone later in the story, as does T.J. use the internet for research. And in light of technological limitations they could as well have chosen the original time frame anyway. The "millenuim bug" references in the story on the other hand don't amount to more than one or the other newspaper headline or a short quip from one of the characters.

So why is the film's story explicitly set in 1999? What does this setting, primarily exhibited in the small "millenium bug" references that could not have been part of the source novel, add to the movie's story? Or is there any other reason to set it then and not earlier or later that I just overlooked, or any other meaning to 1999 and its zeitgeist that adds to the story's themes? Have the filmmakers by any chance commented on this or is there other material to derive an expalantion for that from?


1 Answer 1


Because the filmmaker did not want the technological advances that were available in 2014. He also wanted to capitalize on the Y2K craze.

Director and writer Scott Frank explains this in an interview:

Where did the decision to set the movie in 1999 come from?

Well, there were a couple of reasons. I always knew I wanted to set it in the past because I didn’t want to set it in a time where cell phones are so ubiquitous. Thrillers have become all about technology and using technology. That seemed, to me, not so interesting. And what I liked about the story was that there were still pay phones on the street and people were still using them, but it was on the cusp of something. To that end, when I went back to it a couple of years ago to start thinking about directing it, I realized that the great thing about Y2K was that everybody was afraid of the wrong thing, as the character says in the script now. Everybody was worried about getting stuck in elevators or worrying about our computers exploding or whatever we thought would happen, and I thought it seems quaint now by comparison to what happened after that. So I thought that was a great opportunity to set something in New York, when New York was doing really well and crime was down and everybody was fat and happy and content, meanwhile, around the world, there was something that we weren’t paying attention to. I looked at these two bad guys as a harbinger and I thought it was the perfect time, if you did it subtly and didn’t make a big deal out of it. And it was a great way for me to organize myself creatively around the movie that way.


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