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
The original French-language version contains two scenes cut from the English-language version. In the first, after the stabbing of Phoebus, we see Pierre Gringoire, surrounded by his friends from the Cour des Miracles, worrying about Esméralda's disappearance. In the second, after Esméralda's rescue, we see Claude, back at the scene of the crime at La Falourdel's, breaking down on the floor, and talking about guilt and the state of his soul. This then leads into his return to the cathedral. See more »
Non -French users may find it hard to believe it,but Jean Delannoy is despised by almost everybody in his native country.The NOuvelle Vague clique,on H.M. JL GOdard's service ,was always putting him down.That was (and is) certainly unfair cause Delannoy made two great "Maigret" and some of his works "la Symphonie Pastorale " Dieu A Besoin des Hommes" or "les Amitiés Particulières" are certainly worth a watch.His "secret de Mayerling" which is hard to find is certainly interesting too.
Lit classics were also one of his favorite genres: abetted by Jean Cocteau,he updated "Tristan and Iseut" (as "l'Eternel Retour" ).Later he would transfer Madame de La Fayette 's "La Princesse de Clèves" (1961) with commendable results -the critics slagged it off- Here he tackles "Notre Dame de Paris" ,with a big budget (wide screen , color and an international cast were not so common in 1956 in France).His version is academic ,as would be Le Chanois's -another Bete Noire of the Nouvelle Vague- "les miserables " (1958).It's icily impersonal ,and it's the actors who save the movie from tedium:although too old ,Lollobrigida has beauty,charm,sensuality and even wit going for her;Quinn is a good -but not as outstanding as Charles Laughton-Quasimodo;Robert Hirsh is excellent as Gringoire;On the other hand,Jean Danet is a mediocre Phoebus.
Although inferior to Dieterle's version ,Delannoy's work is more faithful to the novel (the ending notably) but there's a problem concerning Claude Frollo:why has he become a layman?Part of the reason might be found in the director's belief.Jean Delannoy is a true believer: in "Dieu a Besoin des Hommes" he showed spiritual concern.And recently,he released two religious movies in a row " Bernadette" (Soubirous) and "Marie de Nazareth".So maybe ,he changed Hugo's character because it was unbearable to him that a priest should desire a woman.
Alain Cuny,whose portrayal of FRollo is a bit monotonous, had a brilliant career ,from Carné's "Les Visiteurs du Soir" to Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" and "Satyricon".
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