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
Going into the theater to see this movie, my friend and I (who are "cynical" teenage movie critics) honestly expected to be disappointed, especially after the relatively blah Pocahontas. When the movie was over 90 min. later, we both ran frantically to go buy the CD and read the book (which, actually, was rather different than the movie, but hey.).
I am 17 years old; I grew up watching The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. When Disney released this movie, which dealt with extremely heavy subject matter in an extremely tasteful manner, I jumped for joy. During the entire movie, I was amazed and spellbound. The music was also fantastic, by the way, as was the cinematography (although those crowd scenes begin to look really fake after a while). That scene where Quasimodo holds Esmerelda up in front of the rose window and yells, "Sanctuary!" still gives me chills.
This is not a movie for children in any way, shape or form. I think the only problem with Hunchback is the fact that Disney refused to accept that this is a serious, relatively adult motion picture and would not make any animated movie, no matter how serious, without obnoxiously cute little critters (i.e., the gargoyles) bouncing around to entertain the kiddies, or huge marketing campaigns at McDonald's, etc. As some others have written on here, it's pretty obvious this movie isn't for kiddies from its subject matter.
But anyone over 13 who's willing to think as well as be entertained when watching a Disney movie would probably love Hunchback.
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