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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.
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.
Disney adapts the famous novel by Victor Hugo into their 34th animated
feature, telling the story of the lonely, deformed Quasimodo, the secluded
bellringer of Notre Dame, who lives by himself in Notre Dame's church
towers, with only three stone gargoyles named Victor, Hugo (get it?), and
Laverne for company. At the gargoyles' playful urging, Quasi sneaks away
from the church one day to attend the Festival Of Fools, and makes his first
real human friend in the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmeralda. But soon, after
Quasimodo is ridiculed by the crowd for his appearance, he and Esmeralda
find themselves in trouble with Quasimodo's wicked stepfather, Frollo, the
ruler of Notre Dame. With help from his three gargoyle friends, as well as
the kind soldier Captain Phoebus (who has fallen in love with Esmeralda),
it's up to Quasimodo to save Esmeralda and the town of Notre Dame itself
from Frollo's evil control....
If you've been reading some of my other reviews, then you know by now that I'm a big fan of Disney animated features: "Snow White," "Fantasia," "Tarzan," and "Atlantis," to name but a few (and I do plan on reviewing more Disney films in the future). But now that I've just gotten reacquainted with Disney's 1996 film, "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame," finally released on DVD, I know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that this beautiful animated film is indeed my favorite Disney feature of them all (okay, so "Fantasia" arguably remains the best *animated* of the lot, but it certainly didn't have an actual plot). I don't think I've ever cried so much during a Disney movie. "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is, quite simply, a glorious triumph for Walt Disney Productions.
Granted, the Disney team have "Disney-ized" Hugo's original novel, such as turning it into a musical, including sidekick stone gargoyles that come to life, as well as the obligatory happy ending, but no matter. This is a truly wonderful animated film through and through that will touch you right down to your very soul. It's very well-written, surprisingly dark at times, gorgeously animated, very funny AND very dramatic at turns, with a first-rate voice cast including Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tony Jay & Jason Alexander, and beautiful, memorable songs by Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz. And I promise you, there won't be a dry eye in the house at the film's end, mark my words.
HOW, in Heaven's name, did the Academy overlook "Hunchback Of Notre Dame" altogether in 1997? Not even any nominations for the music! Absolutely outrageous. Perhaps with the five previous Disney films in a row being honored by the Academy, from "The Little Mermaid" through "Pocahontas," the Academy simply wanted to take a break from nominating Disney films, not realizing how truly brilliant "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" was. How very unfortunate that "Hunchback" had to fall victim to the Academy's ignorance that year.
Still, it takes nothing away from the remarkable achievement that this Disney film is. Against all the odds, the Disney team transformed Victor Hugo's novel into a truly lovely tale for all ages to enjoy. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll enjoy the music, you'll be moved. Step aside, "Beauty And The Beast"---"The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is the REAL Disney masterpiece from the last few years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Disney's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is an inspired piece of filmmaking.
After POCAHONTAS, many of my friends were disillusioned with Disney films,
so I went to see it with just one other person (usually we go in groups of
at least 4). I was awestruck. The movie is a perfect blend of all the things
that make Disney such a respected name: beautiful music, breathtaking
animation (a perfect blend of hand drawn and computer), entertaining for
adults and kids alike (though this may not be a movie for the youngest of
the young), and an intelligent and well-executed script. Paying proper
respect to the story as written yet making the necessary refinements to make
it a children's movie, this script (note how I carefully avoided a dangling
participle), is one of the finest adaptations of a novel for the screen I
have ever seen. And for those who thought the ending lost all of its tragic
bite, I have one serious question for you: Why exactly DID Esmerelda choose
Phoebus over Quasimodo? Think about it.
A risky wedding of wholesome classic animation, to adult and often
dark-themed material. The risk paid off and the result is one of the
greatest achievements of Disney Studios.
The animation here is first rate and the entire thing is shot like a live-action film with some incredible long shots, great theatrical panning and even at one point, during Quasimodo's song "Out There" a realistic camera flare (I did a double take the first time I saw it!) Hunchback is filled with all sorts of great "tricks" like this. Lighting effects here are nothing short of magnificent often subtle they sometimes change in an instant dramatically altering the mood of the piece. Frodo's demonic song "Hellfire" is perhaps one the most sinister and frightening moments to emerge from Disney and the animators let loose.
The prologue to the movie alone is a minor masterpiece and, like Beauty and the Beast, marvelously prepares us for the whirlwind of a story to take place.
The complaints about the singing and dancing gargoyles Victor, Hugo and Laverne, are simply wrongheaded. I read the Hugo classic too, and know they're not in there. What the complainants fail to realize is these gargoyles live only in Quasimodo's imagination. He invented these companions to ease an otherwise tortured, lonely, friendless life. The culmination of all of this becomes obvious in the spectacular song "A guy like you" which finishes with pigeons flying and hearts and banners and ribbons and Quasimodo being celebrated and then BAM immediately upon the conclusion of the final notes, the room becomes the same dark, dank, splintering tower filled with relics, junk and heartbreak. It's one of the movie's most shattering effects.
While deserved praise goes to the animators and crew, the voice talent here is, in my opinion, Disney's very best. Tom Hulce goes to the very soul of Quasimodo and gives a performance that is as poignant and shattering as anything he has done (Hulce also happened to be the best Hamlet I've ever seen.) Certain lines ("I am a monster, you know") will ring in my ear forever. Hulce has a beautiful voice and renders "Out there" with such abandon and vigor it makes my hair stand on end. In the quiet "Heaven's light" (which sequences into a stunning shot of the bells frantically ringing the opening theme), Hulce brings a fragility to such lines as "no face as hideous as my face, was ever meant for Heaven's light" that only a heart of stone would not be moved. Switching from pathos to rage, Hulce lets us feel the hidden rage and danger that this character also possesses. It is a truly remarkable performance.
Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tony Jay, Paul Kandel and the rest of the cast all sound at the top of their game creating wonderful and vivid characters.
Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz get to the heart of the matter with score and songs a sound that are as integral a part of the telling of this story as the animation and voices.
Hunchback is a miracle of a movie!
I've just read a comment that this movie has a lot of bad songs. I absolutely disagree - there may be some weak parts of script or so, but music is indeed very, very good. Alan Menken made a masterpiece, as usual! The orchestration, score, everything, not to mention good voices of characters. But it is true that maybe this story isn't exactly meant for children, although Disney tried to make it closer to a child's ear and eye. I also think that the animation was really good - much more expressive than some of newer Disney's movies that were made almost entirely by computers. It's a pity that Hunchback wasn't more successful - it certainly deserved it.
I was so impressed by this movie. The animation is gorgeous and a lot
of the subject matter profound. Many critics have complained about the
talking gargoyles messing up the movie and taking it further away from
Hugo's original novel, but the only problem I have with them is their
song (A Guy Like You), which attempts "Be Our Guest" and "Under the
Sea" status, but really does lack the melody. Other than that, they fit
right in with Hugo, who told in his novel that Quasimodo would sit for
hours holding solitary converse with the statues. Of course, this was
all in his mind, but hello, so are the gargoyles in the movie. No one
else ever sees them talking or moving (with the exception of Djali),
and they are animated to give Quasimodo some friends, just as he did on
his own in the book. Of course, there are many other parts of the movie
that are WAY different from the book, but not as many people complain
about them, so I won't mention them. The main reason I love this movie
is the villain, Frollo, played to perfection by Tony Jay. His sinister
atmosphere and lust for Esmerelda are elements of the like we have
never seen in any other Disney movie, prior to or after Hunchback. The
song "Hellfire" is the crown jewel of the movie, and makes the entire
thing worth watching. I was so surprised by the graphic lyrics and
animation of this scene, and could do nothing but yell "THIS IS
Disney!!!!!!!!!!" But it was a good surprise, not a bad one. Frollo is
decidedly the deepest, and most evil of all Disney villains, and is
definitely my favorite.
The music in this movie is also the best that Disney has ever produced. Though the songs are not as catchy as those found in other memorable Disney movies, they are nonetheless the most powerful. In this movie, we find large-scale choral music in Latin, huge orchestral works, religious themes, and Broadway/Classical style arrangements that put most of the other Disney movies to shame. It truly is magnificent.
I definitely recommend this movie to all audiences, and I give it a 10/10. This is the Disney movie that deserved an Oscar nomination more than any other, and it is a shame that it has been so underplayed and all but disowned by Disney since its release. SEE THIS MOVIE.
The original film The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of the saddest and most dramatic films ever. Now, Victor Hugo's original vision is put with color from disney, and it is still dramatic and sad, but it amazingly works into the Dinsey family fold, even if it is erotic, killing and weird. Great fun in voices from Thomas Hulce, Demi Moore, kevin Kline, Tonyt Jay and Jason Alexander as a gargoyle. One of the better animated films to come around in the 90's. A+
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, in my opinion, is pure Disney magic. If you ask me, Frollo (voice of Tony Jay) was truly diabolical. On the other hand, Quasimodo (voice of Tom Hulce) and Esmeralda (voice of Demi Moore) were truly meant to be friends. I really enjoyed the music, especially "Someday," by All-4-One. "Out There" was good, too. In my opinion, Tom Hulce can really sing. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Hugo's (voice of Jason Alexander) and Quasimodo's singing. Before I wrap this up, I'd like to say that everyone involved in this film did very well. Now, in conclusion, I highly recommend this film that's pure Disney magic to all of you who haven't seen it. You're in for a good time, so go to the video store, rent it or buy it, kick back with a friend, and watch it.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a surprise of a pleasant Disney film, in
my opinion this is the last real great (hand drawn)animated Disney
movie. I was eleven when this film was release and I saw it in the
theater, I was just absolutely in love with this film. Still to this
day I like watching it. It has such a beautiful story, a bit different
from the original Hunchback of Notre Dame book, but they had to make it
family friendly. Not to mention that the soundtrack to The Hunchback of
Notre Dame is just so beautiful and awesome, the best since The Lion
King. This is just such a charming and magical film, I can't see
someone not falling in love with it.
Quasimodo is a disfigured man who was raised by the evil and cruel Frodo who only keeps him to save himself from eternal damnation. One day Quasimodo goes down to the big fair and bumps into a beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda, who doesn't judge him by his looks but by his charming and kind personality. But when she saves him from the crowd's cruelty, she is a fugitive on the run now, but Quasimodo helps her and falls in love with her. But a new soldier, Phoebus, has also fallen for her and she has for him too, but they all must stick together in order to survive the cruel flames of Notre Dame.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is just such a great film to watch, it's a great family movie for the afternoon. It's such a touching story, it could even bring a few tears to your eyes, and some fun comedy to uplif the story. I loved the old man who is constantly in a trap of some sort and his line every time he gets free "I'm free! I'm free!", then he gets back in the same situation "Dangit!", that was funny. The cast was perfect and seemed to have a lot of fun with their characters. I highly recommend this film, it's a great Disney treasure.
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