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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

fine, but could have been better

Author: vironpride from Morgantown, West Virginia
17 October 2005

With every different version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" that I have ever seen, I hope again that I will one day see a film that copies the novel exactly. Victor Hugo's novel is a tragedy all the way, and it does NOT have a happy ending, or even a semi-happy one! The only version that is most like "Notre Dame de Paris" is the 1977 film described elsewhere in this site. However, the 1982 version comes closer than the earlier ones, which, because of censorship, could not have an Archbishop feverishly pursuing a heathen gypsy female through the dark streets of Paris, laying aside his priestly vows to lust after her to the death. This dark, Gothic romance cries out for black and white--it just doesn't work in color, and the color here is gorgeous. See the 1939 Laughton version to see what I mean. And speaking of the Laughton version, Anthony Hopkins is obviously copying Charles Laughton's legendary performance, and does it quite well--one great actor's nod to another. Has Anthony Hopkins ever given a bad performance? Or has Derek Jacobi, for that matter? He succeeds in making Dom Claude what I have always considered this character to be--not a villain, but a pathetic, pitiable character torn between his holy vows and his forbidden lust for a beautiful gypsy dancer. Lesley-Ann Down is lovely, to say the least, as Esmeralda, and the supporting cast is solid. David Suchet as Clopin is fine in his own way, but it was a thankless task to try to follow Thomas Mitchell's great, over-the-top turn as the King of the Beggars in the 1939 version. Though this version is not as good as it could have been, it still is one of the best, and well worth your time.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:


Author: peacham from Pa.
20 July 1999

This film shows us why derek jacobi is one of the greatest actors living. only he can turn a villian into the most sympathetic character in a film. his claude frollo bristles with lust, simmers with hate and all the while he feels tortured and guilty. still he can't resist his urges. he loves quasimodo but loves his own carnal pursuits more. this is indeed a tragic figure. Hopkins is also outstanding in the role of quasimodo,he is sicere and honest. david suchet and leslie anne-down offer strong support.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Almost completely like the novel.

Author: Ariel-28
16 May 2000

This movie version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is superbly similar to the Hugo novel. Quasimodo looks exactly like it's told in the book, he is almost deaf, and in this movie we see yet another "little Esmeralda", who reminds us of the dancer in the Dieterle version.

I was quite surprised that even Frollo is rather good to Quasimodo - just like in the novel - but when he already at the beginning started to show his passion for Esmeralda, I knew that he is just like he must be. Honestly, I couldn't only hate him because he later seemed to be quite unhappy of being "bewitched" and that Esmeralda refused to answer to his feelings.

I was especially shocked that the film had even the torture scene of Esmeralda. Captain Phoebus, too, was surprisingly similar to the character of the book, and it was good that Gringoire tried to warn Esmeralda about him. It was also really moving to hear Quasimodo talk about his own ugliness.

The only thing I was a little disappointed in was the end; although it doesn't belong to the novel, I had started to hope that Esmeralda could see the truth about Quasimodo.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Best

Author: philwissbeck from California
14 September 2001

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is one of the best movies of all time. A balance of epic action and character is woven into a piece of great story telling. Every minute works and builds to the next. Perfect from beginning to end and deserves to be set next to Citizen Kane. Tragically it was not done for the big screen and couldn't get an Oscar.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Decent film with great performances from Hopkins and Jacobi

Author: kriitikko from Kirkkonummi, Finland
26 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 15'Th century Paris, a young priest named Claude Frollo finds a horribly deformed child abounded in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Frollo names the child Quasimodo and raises him in the church. 25 years later Frollo has become the Archdeacon of Notre Dame and Quasimodo the bellringer, who amongst the citizens of Paris is also known as "the Hunchback". During the Feast of Fools, a young gypsy dancer Esmeralda unintentionally wakes the carnal desires inside of Frollo. She also gains the attentions of Quasimodo, a poet Gringoire and Captain Phoebus of King's guards.

This 1982 TV movie of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is an interesting mix of Victor Hugo's book and previous movies of the story. During some parts of the film the story seems to be very close to Hugo's book, whereas in others it seems to follow the footsteps of the famous 1939 version. Not only that, but film does include some ideas of its own. Frollo's pupil Philippe never appeared in the book or other movies, and this is the only version along with the Disney movie where Esmeralda gives Quasimodo a kiss.

Technically the movie is quite well done for a TV production. Replica of Notre Dame is extremely well made, but some scenes really suffer. In other versions the Feast of Fools has always been presented as an extremely festive event, but here I see none of it. Almost looks like there's not a single person in Paris who would want to celebrate. Also the Court of Miracles scene is a letdown. On the other hand, the angry mob invading Notre Dame is surprisingly well managed.

As for cast, the film includes two amazing performances from Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi. Hopkins, nearly a decade before his fame as Hannibal Lecter, goes right there with the first Lon Chaney as my favorite Quasimodo. You can hardly recognize the man under all the makeup but he really puts passion to his role and makes a touching performance. The scene of Quasimodo crying after receiving water from Esmeralda, and later when we see how ashamed he is of his ugliness when near her, are truly heartbreaking ones. Jacobi completely nails the character of Claude Frollo, showing a priest dedicated for God, but who becomes obsessed of a girl who woke his hidden needs. Jacobi is fantastic in the role, showing a good man on his journey to madness. His scene with Esmeralda in the dungeon shows actual torment and conflict.

Rest of the cast is so and so. I was really excited to see David "Hercule Poirot" Suchet as Clopin, but the film keeps his part frustratingly short and Suchet doesn't really have any chances to explore the role. Pity, because he does look great for the part. Robert Powell is a great actor and he does capture the egoistic gambler and skirt-chaser that Phoebus is, but he doesn't look right to the part for me. Biggest disappointment comes from Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda. Not only is she the weakest link of the cast but she also lacks the looks. She is pretty, but not pretty enough to make entire Paris drool after her. Her dance scene is a big disappointment, no thrill whatsoever. Gerry Sundquist is okay as Gringoire but that's it. I certainly fail to see why he should get Esmeralda. Tim Piggot-Smith's invented character Philippe serves no purpose in the story.

The film is lacking in some parts but is decent to watch and it does have two remarkable performances from Hopkins and Jacobi, which alone are worth seeing for. Also during Esmeralda's trial scene you can enjoy cameos of Nigel Hawthorne as Judge and John Gielgud as the Inquisitor.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very well done, both as an adaptation and on its own terms

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
1 September 2011

I love the book, and I love the 1939 film which I found beautifully made, memorably performed and very poignant and the Disney film for while it is not a true adaptation the animation and music more than make up for me and Frollo is one of Disney's most interesting characters.

This Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation is not as good as these two in my view, but it is one of the truer adaptations of the book especially in its depiction of Frollo. Two scenes didn't work for me, the Festival of Fools scene which was in need of much more jollity and the Court of Miracles scene which while well acted and set lacked intensity.

However, two scenes in particular did stand out as very powerful, the angry mob scene which is one of the more vivid depictions of that particular scene of any film based on the classic novel and the ending which killed me emotionally.

This Hunchback of Notre Dame does look gorgeous with excellent photography and sumptuous costumes and settings, though I kind of agree that black and white would have given it a more Gothic tone. The story still maintains its emotional impact, the script is thoughtful and literate and Ken Thorne's music is memorable and never too obtrusive.

The acting is spot on. Lesley-Anne Downe is a breathtakingly beautiful and sensual Esmeralda and David Suchet in a role completely different to his Poirot persona(quite a shock if you ask me) is a grotesque Clopin. Anthony Hopkins is a poignant Quasimodo, but it was Derek Jacobi who nails his tortured and complex character that made the adaptation for me.

In conclusion, very well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Greatest Tragedy Eva!

Author: HunchbackChimeraNotreDameDeParis from United Kingdom
8 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on the true story of one hunchbacked chimera at Notre Dame de Paris deciding to become human to experience love firsthand, this tragic non fiction novel depicts the realities of life in Paris in the medieval period. Although much of the beginning of the novel is a detailed map of Paris at that time period, the main story of Quasimodo falling in love with a shallow but beautiful gypsy beggar Esmeralda is more tragic than the story of Jesus ! Not only does it show the worst of humanity[ but it also shows the inner beauty of a hunchback chimera's selfish love for someone who never was his. In the end, he dies holding her in his human body till it skeletonizes (even though he knew she was repulsed by his physical form) So did the hunchback chimera really get his wish fulfilled ??

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A sound and respectable made-for-TV adaptation of the classic story

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
25 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Grotesquely deformed hunchback bellringer Quasimodo (a superb and touching performance by Anthony Hopkins) falls in love with sweet and lovely gypsy dancer Esmeralda (a fine portrayal by Lesley-Anne Down). Complications ensue when both Quasimodo's keeper the arch deacon Dom Claude Frollo (splendidly played by Derek Jacobi) and poor, but honest and decent street poet Pierre Gringoire (an engaging turn by Gerry Sundquist) become smitten with the enticing lass as well. Quasimodo protects Esmeralda from an angry mob by giving her sanctuary in the cathedral he works in. Director Michael Tuchner and screenwriter John Gay deliver a strong and faithful adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic story which benefits greatly from a serious, gritty tone, a vivid evocation of a harsh and repressive era, and an equally credible depiction of a cruel world that's largely populated by cold and heartless people with zero tolerance for anyone who defies the norm. Hopkins brings real poignant dignity to Quasimodo and astutely captures the kind and gentle soul that exists underneath the pitiable fellow's monstrous exterior. Jacobi likewise excels as a sympathetic tormented villain who's betrayed by his forbidden lustful feelings for Esmeralda. Moreover, there are excellent supporting contributions from David Suchet as hearty king of thieves Clopin Trouillefou, Robert Powell as dashing cad army captain Phoebus, John Gielgud as pitiless torturer Charmolue, and Nigel Hawthorne as a stern magistrate. Alan Hume's exquisite cinematography, with its stunning lighting and rich use of vibrant color, ensures that this movie is visually sumptuous throughout. Ken Thorne's spare, moody score also hits the spot. The rousing climax culminates in a truly heartbreaking conclusion. A sad, moving and worthy film.

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'Brother Cadfael Misbehaves' in a botched Hugo adaptation

Author: silverwhistle ( from Glasgow & Hull
25 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was disappointed by this ITV adaptation of 'Notre Dame de Paris' when I first saw it on TV 35 years ago, and it still disappoints. There may be spoilers ahead, as I compare it with other adaptations and the source novel.

While it does, at least, retain from the novel Claude's status as Archdeacon and adoptive parent of the founding Quasimodo, much else is derived from the 1939 Hollywood film, with the romanticisation of Pierre Gringoire and the happy ending it gives him and Esméralda (rather than Djali). There are other changes: Captain Phoebus is depicted as already married, instead of betrothed, and (*spoiler*) Claude's death is placed as the climax of the 'Porte Rouge' episode, rather than at the very end of the story.

The chief problems are in the casting. While the actors are mainly well-known and have done excellent work elsewhere, they are not well-cast in this. Derek Jacobi is particularly miscast as Claude. He's too old and the wrong physical type (Tim Piggott-Smith, who plays his subordinate Philippe – an entirely superfluous new character – or Robert Powell – under-used as Phoebus – would have been better in the role). He also comes across as too much the comfortable 'career cleric', not the driven, intense intellectual and scientist, with his agonising self-mortifications and self-destructive passions. I can't help but see this as more like Brother Cadfael being a bit naughty. In fact, his Cadfael, who has a colourful past, has far more personality than this depiction.

Lesley-Anne Down is a pretty Esméralda, but it's not her fault the role is written so vapidly. Gerry Sundquist makes an appealing lead, but he's not the Pierre I love in the book, more like the 1939 film-version. Anthony Hopkins is a competent Quasimodo, but he's not the most interesting character, despite Shoberl's unauthorised re-titling of the book in English, which film-makers seem to prefer for some reason. Overall, this lacklustre adaptation falls between the two other TV adaptations I've seen: it's inferior to the 1976 BBC version, which had the best ever Pierre in Christopher Gable, but still superior to the 1997 US version, which had a far-too-old Richard Harris as a book-burning Claude and Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo the secret intellectual and author… (Yes, really!) More than ever, I regret the disappearance of the 1966 BBC adaptation starring James Maxwell…

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great cast brings the Hugo novel to life

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
31 January 2013

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1982) turns out be the first time I've watched a filmed adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel. It's just something I've never got around to before now, despite owning both the silent version and the Charles Laughton outing on video. I guess it says something about my tastes in film when I've watched Paul Naschy's HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE before this story! As it happens, HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME turns out to be a fairly decent film, although I can't vouch for how faithful it is as I haven't read the novel. Despite being a made-for-TV production, it's eventful and intriguing, mainly worth watching for a superior cast who acquit themselves well with the material.

Anthony Hopkins, in the titular role, plays it for sympathy and it works. He's virtually unrecognisable beneath the heavy and effective makeup, and his hunchback is a tragically maligned character throughout. Lesley-Anne Down is a believable object of lust and affection for most of the cast, and Derek Jacobi has a fine line in playing villainous characters (his turn as Claudius in Branagh's HAMLET was another favourite).

Watch out for minor roles for David Suchet (with hair!), Tim Pigott-Smith, John Gielgud, Nigel Hawthorne and Robert Powell, who's wasted in a minor part. Also watch out for decent production values, with elaborate sets, and assured direction from TV helmsman Michael Tuchner. I wouldn't necessarily call this depiction of the novel definitive - it feels a little slow and stagy in places, a little cold - but it is a solidly entertaining picture.

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