Quasimodo, the hunchback bellringer of Notre Dame's cathedral meets a beautiful gypsy dancer, Esmeralda, and falls in love with her. So does Quasimodo's guardian, the archdeacon of the cathedral, and a poor street poet. But Esmeralda's in love with a handsome soldier. But when a mob mistakes her for a witch, it's up to Quasimodo to rescue her and claim sanctuary for her in the cathedral.Written by
With every different version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" that I have ever seen, I hope again that I will one day see a film that copies the novel exactly. Victor Hugo's novel is a tragedy all the way, and it does NOT have a happy ending, or even a semi-happy one! The only version that is most like "Notre Dame de Paris" is the 1977 film described elsewhere in this site. However, the 1982 version comes closer than the earlier ones, which, because of censorship, could not have an Archbishop feverishly pursuing a heathen gypsy female through the dark streets of Paris, laying aside his priestly vows to lust after her to the death. This dark, Gothic romance cries out for black and white--it just doesn't work in color, and the color here is gorgeous. See the 1939 Laughton version to see what I mean. And speaking of the Laughton version, Anthony Hopkins is obviously copying Charles Laughton's legendary performance, and does it quite well--one great actor's nod to another. Has Anthony Hopkins ever given a bad performance? Or has Derek Jacobi, for that matter? He succeeds in making Dom Claude what I have always considered this character to be--not a villain, but a pathetic, pitiable character torn between his holy vows and his forbidden lust for a beautiful gypsy dancer. Lesley-Ann Down is lovely, to say the least, as Esmeralda, and the supporting cast is solid. David Suchet as Clopin is fine in his own way, but it was a thankless task to try to follow Thomas Mitchell's great, over-the-top turn as the King of the Beggars in the 1939 version. Though this version is not as good as it could have been, it still is one of the best, and well worth your time.
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