In 15th century Paris, Clopin the puppeteer tells the story of Quasimodo, the misshapen but gentle-souled bell ringer of Notre Dame, who was nearly killed as a baby by Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice. But Frollo was forced by the Archdeacon of Notre Dame to raise Quasimodo as his own. Now a young man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by Frollo in the belltower of the cathedral. But during the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo, cheered on by his gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, decides to take part in the festivities, where he meets the lovely gypsy girl Esmeralda and the handsome soldier Phoebus. The three of them find themselves ranged against Frollo's cruelty and his attempts to destroy the home of the gypsies, the Court of Miracles. And Quasimodo must desperately defend both Esmeralda and the very cathedral of Notre Dame. Written by
One of the best Disney-animated films of the '90s...
Although not a kid-pleaser like "The Little Mermaid", Disney's rendering of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is in every way its equal. The Victor Hugo classic story about Quasimodo, disfigured outcast in medieval Paris who becomes a hero, surprisingly lends itself well to an animated re-enactment with songs. The drawings are handsome and active, very flashy, and the direction is tight if a bit frantic (were they afraid a slower pace would turn children off?). The production is beautiful, compensating I think for the lack of jokes (the gargoyle sidekicks not withstanding) and one really memorable song. The music is still quite good, and the celebrity voices (de rigeur these days) are expressive. The editing is a bit choppy, turning the proceedings into a cartoon hyperbole, but this is a captivating story and good, solid entertainment. *** from ****
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