Remake Paperback – Jan 1 1995
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In the Hollywood of the future there's no need for actors since any star can be digitally recreated and inserted into any movie. Yet young Alis wants to dance on the silver screen. Tom tries to dissuade her, but he fears she will pursue her dream--and likely fall victim to Hollywood's seamy underside, which is all to eager to swallow up naive actresses. Then Tom begins to find Alis in the old musicals he remakes, and he has to ask himself just where the line stands between reality and the movies. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Willis (Doomsday Book), a fan of old movies, uses them cleverly and thoughtfully in Remake, her fourth solo novel. Roughly 20 years into the future, computer graphics have ended live production in Hollywood. Tom, the narrator, reluctantly pillages old films for remakes starring dead actors or alters them to suit the politico-social correctness of the moment. When he meets Alis, who has come to Hollywood burning to dance in movies no longer being made, he falls hard. As in Willis's Lincoln's Dreams, while boy is obsessed with girl, she is obsessed with her purpose. Boy loses girl, then sees her, impossibly, dancing in old musicals which couldn't have been altered. After several red herrings he finds both her and an explanation, but, given her higher passion, finders aren't necessarily keepers. Willis's writing, as usual, is transparently clean and deft. She has fun playing with old film references and with the levels of illusion in a Hollywood more irreal than ever, and is discerning both about the way movies inform our imaginations, giving us roles to play, and about desire, purpose and possibility. One flaw is a scene of requited love that neither the form nor tone of this bittersweet romance can support. But if the characters are mostly stock and the sentimentality easy, this is still popular fiction at a high level, entertaining, thoughtful and often touching.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
There may be another silver lining in that we got three novellas that might otherwise not have existed, and it is a format that Connie excels at, and a format that, rarely, is as financially rewarding. This is the second of the three that I have read (I also commented on Bellwether). It is not a screwball, per se, which is somewhat surprising given that it is about movies. It does, however, contain that signature Willis humor.
Tom is a poor student at the UNC film school, who has to moonlight as a film "editor" to pay his tuition. I have to put editor in quotes, because this is the future, where movies are not made but remade with digitized famous actors. Into this walks Alis, a "face" who confides to Tom that she wants to dance in the movies.
Like many of Connie's stories, this one plays with the concept of time-travel, although the one-way trip into film nostalgia here is an unusual twist. If this was made into a film, the likely category it would fall into is romantic comedy, although comedy and tear-jerker aspects are there. Think of it as Willis' Jerry Maguire.
The novel is structured something like a treatment for a movie script (possibly a hypermodern, science fiction remake of Casablanca), and the first-person narrator shows his obsession with old movies by constantly referencing classics by Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, and Alis's favorite dancer, Fred Astaire. This is not another tightly knitted time travel story along the lines of Willis's irresistible To Say Nothing of the Dog. The sci-fi/fantasy aspects of the story are extremely hard to follow and may ultimately prove disappointing to fans of such, and the humor tends to fall flat more often than not.Read more ›
just visible today, never loses sight of the hearts of her characters. She writes with
a wry and compassionate tone of the hopes and disappointments of her very human characters.
Here she marries the retrospective tone of unrequited love stories with a "if this goes on"
pessimistic forcast of the recent commercial exploitation of dead movie stars. Spider Robinson
also reached for the sad sentimentality of the unattainable love in "StarDancer" but Willis
proves his master in tone as she never dips her prose in treacle. Although much of the
"cyberpunk" trappings of doing "remakes" are standard, what gives this novella life is its sincere
love of the grand old movie musicals and especially the genius of Fred Astaire.
The magic of Astaire's grace has never been better euligised than in this paeon to dance.
Although I found the ending weak, and the attraction of the view-point character for his "Laura"
a bit facile, I have to admit I spent the weekend after I finished reading, watching (Roger and
Hammerstein's?) Oklahoma for the first time in twenty years.
Finally we get to the climax, and it's not much. There is no suspense, more of just an explanation of how the would-be dancer Alis has mysteriously appeared in some of the old movies. It's a required SF explanation (so that the story can be called SF) but really it's hard to be curious when you just want the thing to end, please -- by this point in the story you know it's not going to get any more interesting.
It seems that Willis put all her energy into coming up with the SF premise and watching old movies so she could insert little descriptions of scenes into the text. It needed more attention to the characters and a plot. This would have made a passable short story.
Most recent customer reviews
Connie Willis is undoubtedly a genius, but even geniuses have their failures. One is tempted at first to think that Remake will be one of her lesser works, even if by no means a... Read morePublished on June 8 2002 by Amazon Customer
If you're a movie nut, and moreover an MGM musicals nut who's seen most of the films excerpted in the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT movies, and you like good speculative fiction, this is... Read morePublished on Dec 13 2000
I loved this wonderfully cynical view of the future of filmmaking, and Hollywood as a whole. The characters came to life against a mild science fiction backdrop, and the story... Read morePublished on March 24 1998