Clopin bought Esmeralda from the gypsies when she was young. Dancing in the square at the festival, Esmeralda is spotted by Jehan, the evil brother of the good archdeacon Claude Frollo. When he sets Quasimodo out to kidnap Esmeralda, Phoebus, Captain of the Guards, rescues her and captures Quasimodo. The courts sentence Quasimodo to be flogged, and the only one who will give him water while he is tied in the square is Esmeralda. After Clopin forces Esmeralda to leave Phoebus at the ball, she sends a note to Phoebus to meet her at Notre-Dame. In the garden, Phoebus is stabbed in the back by Jehan. Esmeralda is accused of stabbing Phoebus, convicted by the courts and sentenced to hang. When Esmeralda again rejects Jehan, he tells her that Phoebus is dead, even though it is not true. Clopin, Phoebus and Quasimodo all try different ways to save Esmeralda. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Strict confinement to the brace that held his legs together reportedly caused Lon Chaney to suffer severe pain for the rest of his life. The contact lens he wore in the film also caused tremendous vision loss. See more »
The hair on the back of the Hunchback's hands appears early in the film and later disappears. See more »
While not one of my silent favorites, it's quite the spectacle
It's hard to rate this film. Much of this is because the film has been floating around for years and is available in many forms--some longer and some significantly shorter. I have a videotape version that only runs about 90 minutes and it lacks any musical score. The version I just saw on TCM lasted almost two hours and had a very good musical score by Robert Israel. However, despite the excellent score he recently wrote for the film, the print itself was in pretty poor shape--looking like it needed further restoration. The review I am giving is for this longer version with music.
The film was exceptional from a technical standpoint. There were huge numbers of extras, very impressive sets that make you think it was really filmed in Paris and the acting was very good. Not surprisingly, Lon Chaney was exceptional and his makeup very convincing. However, despite the technical merit, I still found myself preferring his PHANTOM OF THE OPERA--it was a more interesting story and has been completely restored, so it is a visual treat--unlike HUNCHBACK. Also, the story itself never seemed super-compelling. A good chance I feel this way is that I have seen at least five different versions of the story and it just feels a bit old. So I really can't blame THIS film--it's more a case of "burnout". Still, it's an amazing film and not to be missed by silent movie fans.
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