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
When Quasimodo is seen singing "Out There" on the cathedral's roof we can see a set of copper green statues - the 12 apostles - around the central needle. These statues were not added until the 19th century during a general restoration directed by Viollet-le-Duc, a French architect who had read Victor Hugo's novel and was concerned about the possibility of Notre Dame being demolished, as some authorities of the time had considered. Consequently, it would have been impossible to see those statues at the time the movie is set. See more »
[after Quasi releases him from his collar and turns to leave as Quasi watches inquisitively]
Oh, and one more thing: tell Esmeralda - she's very lucky.
[sheathing his sword]
To have a friend like you.
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After the final credits, the gargoyle Hugo says, "Good night, everybody!" See more »
Well... No. Not quite. It's not the 'conventional classic' that everyone loves and adores (see: Aladdin, The Lion King) and will show their children and their children's children. But that's just it. How anybody can deny that this is a fantastic film is beyond me.
Okay, it's in no way true to the story. But who cares? This is a Disney FILM. It's hardly setting out to be a serious piece of literature-to-film.
It's just... breathtaking. Not just the animation (which is some of the most accomplished from Disney to date, whilst we're on the subject), but the characterisation and pace of story. Frollo is, arguably, the most evil Disney villain ever committed to celluloid. Here, Disney touches on dark themes never before explored in their animated feature lengths; the main one being lust. The scene with 'Hellfire' is truly chilling.
Quasimodo is a brilliant Disney hero. His alienation is easy to relate to, and yet he's still alien enough for one to feel so sorry for him. He's just so tragic. His unrequited love for Esmerelda as she runs off with someone cooler and better looking is something we can all relate to. I quite like how the ending is part conventional for Disney and part not. Yes, the pretty heroine gets the knight in shining armour, but at the same time the real leading man doesn't have to be paired off with a beautiful leading girl in order to end up happy.
The voices are really talented- the notable standout for me being Kevin Kleine as Phebus, and Esmerelda is arguably one of the best things Demi Moore has ever done. I also adore, against most people's opinions, the gargoyles. Yes, they're a bit OTT, but that's what Disney sidekicks are all about, and they provide essential comedy balance for the darkness of the film.
The Hunchback Of The Notre Dame may not be the most authentic film storyline-wise, but it is dark, touching, scary, poignant, funny, chilling, moving (it never fails to leave me in floods of tears) and is one of the few Disney films that can stand alone from Disney as a wonderful piece of cinematography in it's own right.
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