The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ... See full summary »
One of the most faithful adaptations and the most underrated
The book is a classic, it is very powerfully and vividly written and it moves me to tears too, Frollo is also a very interesting character. Of all the adaptations of Notre Dame De Paris, apart from the Golden Films and Burbanks Animation Studios low-budget animated versions while not all are faithful(though that has never been a necessity from personal opinion regarding film adaptations) to the book none of them are bad. This version is very good, that it is the truest to the book along with the Anthony Quinn version(also good, although Quasimodo's rescue of Esmeralda is done the most underwhelmingly in that version) helps though it doesn't quite give me the power and emotional poignancy that the Laughton, Disney, Chaney and Hopkins versions did. Michelle Newell is age-appropriate and beautiful but not quite sexy- agreed about her awkward dancing- or compassionate enough, sometimes almost too naive, and Frollo's psychological struggle has been done better in other adaptations(especially Hopkins and even Disney, if not quite to the extent of the book) with some moments happening too suddenly. Although the picture quality is ragged, the film is very evocatively made with settings that are beautiful and very architecturally Medieval and it is well shot. The costumes are appropriate and Quasimodo's make-up while not "grotesque" would make you feel some degrees of initial repulsion if you were to come across him personally. The music is hauntingly beautiful, loved the Medieval chants that were included. The script is meaningful and literate with a lot of parts like the narrative of the book come to life so much its fidelity. And the story is enthralling, the ending is very powerful stuff(one of the few adaptations where it's not a happy one) and it doesn't restrain itself too much. The acting is fine, especially from Christopher Gable's definitive Gringoire and Warren Clarke's genuinely affecting Quasimodo. Kenneth Haigh does a very good job as Frollo, true what he is given to do is not as juicy as one would like but Haigh's Frollo is sympathetic, menacing and above all tortured with a real sense that what isn't right he thinks it is. Djali is very cute as well. All in all, the most underrated Hunchback of Notre Dame adaptation and there is a lot to like outside of its fidelity to the book(which fans will appreciate, as said before if even there is an adaptation that isn't true to the book it still should be seen for what it is on its own instead of being immediately dismissed). 8/10 Bethany Cox
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