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 <email@example.com>
A very good version of the classic story from the silent era of movie making. The highlight of the movie is clearly Lon Chaney's performance as Quasimodo, the hideously deformed resident of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in the 15th century. One first has to offer kudos for the superb makeup. Chaney is completely unrecognizable in this role. Director Wallace Worsley does a good job of building up sympathy for the Hunchback throughout, and the image of Chaney gleefully swinging off the rope to ring Notre Dame's bells is one that will stay with anyone who has ever seen this film.
Although Quasimodo is the title character, much of the story actually revolves around Esmeralda, who is the object of the affection (some romantic, some fraternal) of almost every male character in the story. The role is played superbly by Patsy Ruth Miller, who possesses both a beauty and an innocence that fit the character perfectly.
Director Worsley also does a marvelous job of creating a dark and ominous feeling around the Paris of that era, as tension between the social classes rises. Ernest Torrence is especially convincing as Clopin, the "King of the Poor" in Paris, and foster-father to Esmeralda, who feels betrayed when Esmeralda falls in love with a member of the nobility (an "aristocrat" as Clopin contemptuously calls him.)
The movie suffered a little bit from what I found at times to be a less than appropriate musical score, and the quality of the film is not especially good (at least when I saw it) but that is hardly surprising given its age. Overall, though, this is a very interesting film that easily holds a viewers' attention.
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