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October 6, 2012
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2) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

And he shall smite the wicked and *plunge* them into the fiery *pit!*

So we are approaching the end of this list in which I showcase the Disney films that are closest to my heart. In this journal I will talk about the controversial film; 'The Hunchback of Notredame', Disney's darkest film.

As a kid I had a love-hate relationship with this movie. When I saw it in theaters I got really scared by it in some parts (especially the depressing scenes) and had to constantly ask my mother what was going on (especially during the Hellfire segment). While this movie was scary to me, I still got a lot of toys and merchendise like figurines and storybooks. Then again I didn't own the film so as a kid I kinda liked the characters more than the movie itself.

So when I turned 14 I was staying over a friend's house and I saw that she had the Hunchback on DVD. I remembered how scary it was to me when I was a six year old so I popped it in to rewatch it out of curiousity. Let me tell ya, I immediately fell in love with it, so much that I bought the movie and watched it constantly.

To properly talk about why I love this film, I think I'm gonna go through some arguments that the film's haters seem to use to put this movie down. While this film isn't perfect, AT ALL, I still want to defend it in some aspects.

This film totally ruined the book! It completely changed the story and characters and made it less dark!
First off, there are DOZENS of film adaptations of this story so if you want to see one that is closer to the book then look for one of the liveaction ones. I've seen two live action adaptations; the Lon Chaney version and the Anthony Hopkins version and they are not hard to find. Also, I've READ the book because the Disney movie made me want to read it and while it is darker and better I still prefer the Disney version because I am an animation nut.

Secondly, adaptations need to be different to be set apart and in this case they were trying to make a film for children and their families. While the characters in the book are more complex, they are not meant for the target audience so they had to change them around. The change wasn't bad at all, in my opinion they made the characters more likable. Sure they were simplified but I find  that Quasimodo's personality much more interesting in the Disney version. Esmeralda is more dynamic as well, and Frollo is much more intimidating. Just imagine it's in a alternate universe or something.

Lastly, if you want to see a 'Disney's Hunchback' that is closer to the book, you are in luck because there is a popular german musical which takes elements from both the Disney film AND the book, making it a hybrid of awesome. Look it up on YouTube, it's really interesting.

This film's moral is that if you are ugly you will never get the girl!

Ugh, I hate this argument because it clearly doesn't know what it's talking about. Okay so there are three guys who are after Esmeralda; Quasimodo (our hero), Pheobus (the captain of the guard), and Frollo (the villain). If you pay attention throughout the movie, Quasi treats Esmeralda as an idealized angel a person that can do no wrong. Even if his love is pure and he's devoted to her safety, this is not a good basis for a relationship. He saw her as an embodiment of kindness, which isn't his fault but it just shows that he's not mature enough for a relationship. Frollo's feelings are the opposite of the spectrum, he sees Esmeralda as a seducing witch. He feels pure carnal lust for her, and degrades her personality and race. He sees her as the embodiment of temptation and unholy lust which of course it's NOT healthy. Lastly we have Pheobus, who treats Esmeralda as an equal. While their relationship is undeveloped everytime he talks to Esmeralda he talks to her as a person and does not see her as something more or less.

To me it's beyond refreshing to see IN A DISNEY MOVIE that the main lead is physically deformed and he doesn't get the girl. It's brutally realistic? Sure but imagine if Esmeralda stayed with Quasimodo in the end, people would see it as cheesy and forced (*cough* HUNCHBACK OF NOTREDAME 2*cough*). Also the book never has them end up together so yeah...They are better off as close friends.


So what do I love about this movie? The animation is amazing, one of Disney's best. NotreDame looks breathtaking and the scope of the film is INMENSE. It's a shame it won't be rereleased in theaters because I would love to see it again in the big screen.

The songs are some of Disney's best as well. Everything seems ten times more epic with the musical numbers, especially 'Bells of Notre Dame' and 'Hellfire'.

The voice acting is great too, especially Tom Hulce (Quasi) and Tony Jay (Frollo). While they don't have voices suited for singing, but it embodies the characters perfectly which makes the songs more meaningful.

The story of Hunchback is alright. There are parts that are incredibly done, especially the musical numbers (minus a 'A Guy like You'). The instrumental score is also amazing, especially the score called 'Sanctuary!' which is played at the film's climax.

The villain in this film is Disney's best villain in my eyes. Frollo is very complex, corrupt, and realistic which is incredibly refreshing. He's also the villain with a body count (assuming he's killed people in the past and killed people while he 'burned Paris'). He does all of this with the notion that he's righteous and only doing God's work. 'Hellfire' is considered the best Disney Villain song since it has stuff Disney tends to avoid like lust and religious themes. I believe he and Quasimodo are the strongest characters.

So what are the movie's flaws? Well I think everyone knows that...


I AM LOOKING AT YOU THREE

The Gargoyles are probably Disney's worst sidekicks. Their job is to ruin moments with their comedy relief which drastically changes the film's tone. Think of the chirping birds that appear after Bambi's mom dies, only multiply it by twenty. At first we assume that the gargoyles are imaginary but...sigh...they are not. Damnit Disney, you almost had your Magnum Opus! Why did you have to make these idiots real? WHY.

There is another problem as well. Like the gargoyles, there are many comic relief scenes that don't fit in the movie. They usually come out after a depressing moment and it just...ruins what we recently experienced unless you fast forward.

While this is a huge problem in the movie, it still could've been worse (like add that cut segment of 'As long as there's a moon'). The film in it's whole is a huge achievement in terms of animation, musical numbers, and epicness which makes me watch this movie over and over again.

So now that we are at the end of my list, what movie do you think will earn the number one spot? Stay tuned my lovelies.
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:iconthedrewemaster:
TheDreweMaster Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I knew that you would hate the gargoyles!
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:iconevelynwn:
Evelynwn Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Clopin is my favorite Character. ^_^ I absolutely love this movie. In my opinion this would be my favorite Disney movies just for how many risks they took with it and the fact that it was done so well. Adding the amaizing music (minus anything the gargoyles sing) and I dont think I ever stood a chance. And even the gargoyles get in a few good ones. The female one's running gag with the birds was funny. Anyway I loved this movie too, and I really wish it was more popular, because it really deserves it.
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:iconraenibl:
Raenibl Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Brilliant Review, well thought and loved the analysis you made here.

When I saw this movie as a kid, it really scared me too. Surprisingly it wasnt the religious themes nor the persecution. What really got me was the peoples cruelty towards Quasimodo. The time where he is tied down and laughed at in the middle of the festival was a scene that was stamped into my mind for a long time and I avoided the movie everytime I was asked to see it again.

After reading this I want to see the movie again, as now Ill be able to understand and see the beauty of this film. So thank you for writting this journal, it changed my view of this classic. :)

Also, a funny act. For the longest time I used to humm this random tune. I had no idea where it came from and it used to appear in my mind at the most random times I couldnt help myself from humming it. BUt for the life of me I couldnt remember where the hell I had heard it from. After reading this I looked for the movie s soundtrack out of curiosity, as I heard the different songs I started humming again. Turns out that the song that has been stalking me all this years was Hellfire. It was shocking, since I hadnt seen the movie in over 10years. The song is THAT good XD

Now Im wondering If i should see the original english dub or spanish like the first time I saw it :confused:

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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yes! That scene scarred me too but at the same time it provoked a positive impact as well. It showed me that making fun of people by the way they look was a horrible, horrible thing. Its a lesson children should learn early on since they deal with superficiality so much when they are older.


I think you should see the English dub :) The voice work is much better there, and I've seen both! :3 I'm really glad you have this movie another chance! :D
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:iconraenibl:
Raenibl Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Just finished watching the movie. And Omg I regret avoiding it for so long.

The festival scene I agree with you fully on the positive impact, it shows people in such a mocking cruel behavior, something you dont ever want to be.

Beautiful songs, clash of ideologies, Frollo is an amazing villain and the final fight was epic. Im definetly getting the movie now.

Again, thank you for writing this review :)
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Your very welcome! :3 I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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:icondemona-silverwing:
Demona-Silverwing Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
And I have a question - is there a full recording of the German musical on youtube? I only found snippets :(
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I also only found snippets :( I would love to find the full thing some day though!
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:icondemona-silverwing:
Demona-Silverwing Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw, too bad. It was really intriguing when you said it combined the Disney movie and the book. Must be awesome...
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:iconkittengoo:
Kittengoo Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Oh it was! Esmeralda dies, Quasi kills Frollo, um...The gargoyles are there but they have much much less screentime and they are imaginary. They also add the cut song 'Someday' which is a beautiful song!
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