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
This is a movie that has all the trappings of an epic, but isn't. But it is still a credible rendition of the Victor Hugo classic, with Gina Lollobrigida giving a strong performance as Esmeralda. The weak part of the movie is Anthony Quinn's performance as Quasimodo. Mr. Quinn's portrayal is not believable. Quasimodo is supposed to generate feelings of pathos; that does not happen in this movie. As a result, the plot becomes flat. The intensity of the relationship between Quasimodo and Esmeralda is lacking. Between Mr. Quinn's mumbling of his lines, and the treatment of the poet Gringoire as a buffoon, the movie teeters on the brink of cinematic collapse. Yet, it is saved by staying faithful to the original story and by good performances by some of the supporting cast, as well as by the essential power of the original story. The story of the hunchback and the gypsy girl is classic; read the book.
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