The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Hunchback of Notre Dame can be found here.

When the gypsy dancer Esmerelda (Maureen O'Hara) witnesses the inhumane punishment inflicted upon the hunchbacked Quasimodo (Charles Laughton), bellringer in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, she is the only one to kindly offer him a drink of water while he's being whipped and pelted with garbage on the pillary. When Esmerelda is subsequently framed by the infatuated Chief Justice Frollo (Cedric Hardwicke) for the stabbing murder of Phoebus (Alan Marshal), Captain of the Guards, accused of being a witch, and sentenced to hang, it is Quasimodo who comes to her aid.

Notre-Dame de Paris (sometimes translated as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) (1831) is a novel by French writer Victor Hugo [1802-1855]. It is claimed that Hugo wrote the book as a statement to preserve the Notre Dame cathedral and not to 'modernize' it. It was adapted for the screen by German-born author Bruno Frank and Russian-born screenwriter Sonya Levien. Other adaptations of the novel include Notre-Dame de Paris (1911), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), Notre-Dame de Paris (1956), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1977), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982), The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1986), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) (an animated movie produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation) and its sequel The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002).

The movie sets the timing during the reign of Louis XI (Harry Davenport) [1461 to 1483] and following the end of The Hundred Years' War, which ended in 1453. In the novel, the year is given as 1482.

Construction of the cathedral at the eastern end of the le de la Cit was begun in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII and completed in 1345. It was damaged in 1548 by rioting Huguenots and underwent major alterations during the 1700s as part of an attempt to modernize cathedrals throughout Europe. It was again damaged during the French Revolution (1793), and a restoration program was initiated in 1845. It is currently (as of 2008) undergoing another major restoration that began in 1991. Images of Notre Dame Cathedral can be viewed here (front) and here (back and south side).

Esmeralda is found guilty of killing Phoebus (who was actually killed by Frollo). She is given sanctuary inside Notre Dame, but Frollo campaigns to have King Louis remove sanction so that Esmeralda can be hanged. Esmeralda's husband Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien) is distributing pamphlets to the masses in which he begs the king NOT to remove sanction. Meanwhile the Guild of Beggars and Thieves is preparing to storm Notre Dame and save Esmeralda. Afraid that the group of beggars and thieves have come to hang Esmeralda, Quasimodo starts showering them with heavy beams, cement blocks, and finally, a cauldron full of hot roofing lead. Frollo sneaks into the cathedral and goes after Esmeralda. Realizing that Frollo means to kill Esmeralda, Quasimodo tosses him out of the belltower. Gringoire arrives at the cathedral with the announcement that the king has granted a pardon to Esmeralda and has also agreed to allow all the gypsies to live wherever they want. Esmeralda and Gringoire go off together. In the final scene, Quasimodo rests his head against a gargoyle and says, "Why was I not made of stone like thee?"

Not very closely at all. The novel is strongly critical of enforced clerical celibacy, centering upon the destructiveness and self-destruction of the Archdeacon, Claude Frollo, in the grip of unrequited passion. However, this theme was unacceptable under the Hays Code. This film therefore follows the 1923 silent version, made under the similar restrictions of the NAMPI Thirteen Points, regarding respectful treatment of the clergy, by rearranging the characters of Claude and Jehan Frollo. Claude remains the Archdeacon but is depicted as a good and holy older man. His younger brother Jehan is changed from a dissolute student into a middle-aged judge and government minister, and book-Claude's desire for Esmeralda is transferred to him. However, as he is a layman and under no vows, this plot-element is weakened considerably. The novel lacks a conventional male romantic lead, so the character of Pierre Gringoire is changed considerably to fit. In the book, he is more of a comic character, a likeable, whimsical young man who inadvertently leaves Esmeralda to her doom, while escaping with her goat. In the book, Phoebus survives the stabbing, but shows his worthlessness by doing nothing to help Esmeralda. He brings about her final destruction. The film also omits the plotline dealing with Esmeralda's parentage, and the fate that has linked her to Quasimodo from infancy. The film has a happy ending; the book does not and leaves few survivors.


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