Paris, 1482. Today is the festival of the fools, taking place like each year in the square outside Cathedral Notre Dame. Among jugglers and other entertainers, Esmeralda, a sensuous gypsy, performs a bewitching dance in front of delighted spectators. From up in a tower of the cathedral, Frollo, an alchemist, gazes at her lustfully. Later in the night, Frollo orders Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer and his faithful servant, to kidnap Esmeralda. But when the ugly freak comes close to her is touched by the young woman's beauty... Written by
A sumptuous, faithful screen version of a masterpiece
No matter if critics seem to prefer the 1939 version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, I thoroughly enjoy this one. Anthony Quinn avoids taking the Laughton path and doing Quasimodo as a monster; his is a painfully realistic performance. Gina Lollobrigida is ever so beautiful as Esmeralda. Her gypsy is a young woman who is "a queen", as her fellow Court of Miracle friends know very well. She is sensual and yet decent and pure in her actions, even as she gives herself to Phoebus. The great cast includes several legendary French actors (Valentine Tessier, Alain Cuny, Madeleine Barbulee, among others). The final scenes are indeed touching, especially in the Italian version, in which Lollobrigida speaks in her native language. A must see.
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