The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996 film)
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame|
|Directed by||Gary Trousdale
|Produced by||Don Hahn|
|Written by||Tab Murphy
|Based on||The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
by Victor Hugo
|Narrated by||Paul Kandel|
David Ogden Stiers
|Music by||Alan Menken|
|Editing by||Ellen Keneshea|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Feature Animation
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||91 minutes|
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 American animated musical comedy-drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released to theaters on June 21, 1996 by Walt Disney Pictures. The 34th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is based on Victor Hugo's novel of the same name. The plot centers on Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame and his struggle to gain acceptance into society.
The film is directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale and produced by Don Hahn. The songs for the film were composed by Alan Menken and written by Stephen Schwartz, and the film features the voices of Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Paul Kandel, Jason Alexander, Charles Kimbrough, David Ogden Stiers, Tony Jay, and Mary Wickes (in her final film role). Produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance, the film is considered to be one of Disney's darkest animated films due to its mature themes, similar to films such as The Black Cauldron and released during the same period of time in the 1990s that the first-run episodes of Disney's still-popular Gargoyles, with a similar degree of "darkness" in its own storyline, were airing on American television.
A darker, more Gothic stage adaptation of the film, was re-written and directed by James Lapine and produced by Walt Disney Theatrical in Berlin, Germany, as Der Glöckner von Notre Dame, and ran from 1999 to 2002. A direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, was released in 2002.
In 1482 Paris, Clopin, a gypsy puppeteer, narrates the origin of the titular hunchback. A group of gypsies sneak illegally into Paris, but are ambushed by Judge Claude Frollo, the minister of justice, and his guards. A gypsy woman in the group attempts to flee with her deformed baby, but Frollo pursues and kills her outside Notre Dame. He tries to kill the baby as well, saying that it is an "unholy demon" from Hell, but is confronted by the cathedral's archdeacon, who accuses Frollo of murdering an innocent woman. To atone for his sin, Frollo agrees to raise the deformed child in Notre Dame as his son, naming him Quasimodo.
Twenty years later, Quasimodo develops into a kind yet isolated young man who dreams of seeing life outside the bell tower, but is told by Frollo that he is a monster and would be rejected by the outside world. A trio of living stone gargoyles: Hugo, Victor, and Laverne serve as Quasimodo's only company and friends. The gargoyles encourage Quasimodo to attend the annually-held Festival of Fools. He tries to go but is stopped by Frollo who says he should stay inside the bell tower. Despite Frollo's advisories, Quasimodo attends the festival and he is celebrated for his bizarre appearance, only to be humiliated by the crowd after Frollo's men start a riot. Frollo refuses to help Quasimodo, but Esmeralda, a kind gypsy, intervenes and frees the hunchback, and uses a magic trick to evade arrest. Frollo confronts Quasimodo and sends him back inside the cathedral.
Esmeralda follows Quasimodo inside, but is followed by Captain Phoebus, one of Frollo's guard. Phoebus does not approve of Frollo's methods and refuses to arrest her for alleged witchcraft inside Notre Dame and has her confined to the cathedral. Esmeralda, encouraged by the Archdeacon, offers a prayer to God to help her and the outcasts. In the bell tower, Esmeralda finds and befriends Quasimodo, who helps her escape Notre Dame out of gratitude for defending him. She entrusts Quasimodo with a pendant containing a map to the gypsies' hideout, the Court of Miracles. Frollo soon develops lustful feelings for Esmeralda and upon realizing them, Frollo begs the Virgin Mary (referring to her as Maria) to save him from her "spell" to avoid eternal damnation. After Frollo learns of Esmeralda's escape from the cathedral, he conducts a city-wide manhunt for her involving burning down numerous houses which he suspects would shelter gypsies in his way. Phoebus, now realizing Frollo's evil reputation, defies him after being ordered to burn down the home of an innocent family and is ordered to be executed, but flees. Phoebus is shot with an arrow and falls into a river, but Esmeralda rescues him and takes him to Notre Dame for refuge. The gargoyles try to help Quasimodo feel better about himself, assuring him that Esmeralda would love him. Unfortunately, this is proven wrong as Esmeralda and Phoebus have fallen for one another.
Frollo returns to Notre Dame later that night and realizes that Quasimodo helped Esmeralda escape. He bluffs to Quasimodo saying that he knows about the Court of Miracles and that he intends to attack at dawn. Using the map Esmeralda gave to him, Quasimodo and Phoebus find the court to warn the gypsies. However, it's revealed that Frollo was following them and he captures all the gypsies present. Frollo prepares to burn Esmeralda at the stake after refusing his advances, but Quasimodo, chained up inside the Bell Tower, manages to break free and rescue her in time, bringing her to the cathedral. Phoebus then frees himself and the gypsies and rallies the citizens of Paris against Frollo and his men, who attempt to break into the cathedral. Quasimodo and the gargoyles pour molten copper onto the streets to ensure no one enters, but Frollo successfully breaks in. He pursues Quasimodo and Esmeralda to the balcony where both he and Quasimodo fall over the edge. Frollo falls to his death in the molten copper, while Quasimodo is caught in time by Phoebus on a lower floor. Afterward, Quasimodo comes to accept that Phoebus and Esmeralda are in love, and he gives them his blessing. They then encourage him to leave the cathedral into the outside world, where the citizens hail him as a hero and accept him into society as the gargoyles proudly watch from above.
- Tom Hulce as Quasimodo – The physically deformed hunchback bell-ringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral. He is frequently told by his guardian Judge Claude Frollo that he is an ugly monster who will never be accepted into the outside world. However, Clopin's opening song asks listeners to judge for themselves "who is the monster, and who is the man" of the two. James Baxter served as the supervising animator for Quasimodo.
- Demi Moore as Esmeralda (singing voice by Heidi Mollenhauer) – A beautiful, streetwise Gypsy dancing girl. She befriends Quasimodo and shows him that his soul is truly beautiful, even if his exterior is not. Highly independent and strong-minded, she abhors Frollo's treatment of Paris's gypsies and other outcasts, and seeks justice for them throughout the film. She falls in love with (and later marries) Captain Phoebus. Tony Fucile served as the supervising animator for Esmeralda.
- Tony Jay as Judge Claude Frollo – A ruthless, self-righteous and religiously pious judge who is Quasimodo's reluctant guardian. He has an intense hatred of the gypsy population, seeing them as "impure" and seeks to annihilate their entire race. He also displays a sadistic and lustful obsession with Esmeralda. Frollo generally believes all he does is in God's will, despite frequent disagreements with the cathedral's Archdeacon. He dies whilst attempting to kill Quasimodo upon Notre Dame's roof, losing his footing and falling to his death. Kathy Zielinski served as the supervising animator for Frollo.
- Kevin Kline as Captain Phoebus – A soldier who is Frollo's Captain of the Guard. He falls in love with (and later marries) Esmeralda. He is a heroic idealist with integrity and does not approve of Frollo's actions. This distinguishes him severely from his character in the original story. He has a horse named Achilles, to whom he says "Achilles, sit." on one of Frollo's soldiers twice. Russ Edmonds served as the supervising animator for Phoebus and Achilles.
- Paul Kandel as Clopin – The mischievous leader of the gypsies who will defend his people at all costs. He introduces the audience to the story, explaining how Quasimodo, the bell ringer from Notre Dame, got to be there. Michael Surrey served as the supervising animator for Clopin.
- Charles Kimbrough, Jason Alexander, and Mary Wickes as Victor, Hugo, and Laverne – Three comical gargoyle statues who are Quasimodo's best friends and guardians. Though it is often assumed that they are only figments of Quasimodo's imagination, this is actually false as most of their characteristics, including Hugo's strange infatuation with the goat Djali, seem unique to their manifestations when present. The only other person to witness them come to life is Madelline in the film's sequel. They also come to life even when Quasimodo isn't present, often commenting on what's happening. This was Mary Wickes' final film. After Wickes' death, Jane Withers provided the remaining dialogue for Laverne in the film's sequel and related merchandise. David Pruiksma served as the supervising animator for Victor and Hugo, while Will Finn served as the supervising animator for Laverne.
- David Ogden Stiers as The Archdeacon – A kind man who helps many characters throughout the film, including Esmeralda. He is the opposite of Frollo: kind, accepting, gentle, and wise. He is the only figure in the film with authority over Frollo while he is inside Notre Dame. He appears in the beginning of the movie when he orders Frollo to adopt Quasimodo for killing his mother. He does not always approve of Frollo's actions, and in the film's climax, Frollo, in his rage, openly defies him and knocks him down a flight of stairs. Dave Burgess served as the supervising animator for the Archdeacon.
- Frank Welker as Djali — Esmeralda's pet goat, and Hugo's love interest. Djali likes to eat, mainly flowers and small wooden objects. Hugo has an obsessive, unrequited crush on Djali that isn't reciprocated until the sequel.
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According to producer Don Hahn, the original idea for the film came from development executive David Stain, who was inspired to turn Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame into an animated feature film after reading the Classics Illustrated comic book adaptation. Stain then proposed the idea to Disney, who called on Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale to work on the project. Wise and Trousdale were working on other projects at the time, but "none of them were quite gelling", so they "jumped at the chance" to do the film. According to Wise, they believed that it had "a great deal of potential...great memorable characters, a really terrific setting, the potential for fantastic visuals, and a lot of emotion."
Due to the heavy subject matter, there were many issues that proved contentious between the creative team and the studio. One of the main ones revolved around the "profession and motivation" of Claude Frollo, the villain. In Victor Hugo's original text, Frollo was a church official — archdeacon of the Notre Dame cathedral. In the film version, he was turned into a judge — a secular government official, whose preoccupation with the gypsy lay in his view of them as "agents of moral decay" as opposed to deviants of the Church. The Gospel According to Disney said "Disney executives would have no part of Hugo's intent to criticise the church and its leaders for their failure to defend the poor and the powerless" and it was "too controversial". However, in an effort to be as faithful to the text as possible, "the animators did their best to subvert this order from above" by using his visual design to show he was a priest.
Entertainment Weekly, which gave the film an A in their review, noted "When it was announced that Disney would produce an animated musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there were doubts, even jokes, about transforming Victor Hugo's classic tale, with its famously misshapen hero, into a crowd-pleaser for kids."
The film has many musical motifs that carry throughout the film, weaving their way in and out of various pieces of music, and having varying timbres depending on the action in the story at that point.
The film's soundtrack includes a musical score written by Alan Menken and songs written by Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Songs include "The Bells of Notre Dame" for Clopin, "Out There" for Quasimodo and Frollo, "Topsy Turvy" also for Clopin, "God Help the Outcasts" for Esmeralda, "Heaven's Light" and "Hellfire" for Quasimodo, the Archdeacon, and Frollo, "A Guy Like You" for the gargoyles and "The Court of Miracles" for Clopin and the gypsies.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame has many themes, including infanticide, lust, damnation, and sin. One of the most important to the narrative is belief in a loving, forgiving God. It also implies, according to Mark Pinsky, a "condemnation of abortion, euthanasia, and racism, and [a] moral resistance to genocide".
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first—and only—Disney animated feature to have a major focus on traditional religious faith; pre-Reformation Catholicism. In fact, the words "God", "Lord", and "Hell" are uttered more times in this film than in any other. The Gospel According to Disney explains that "it is the church...that interposes, or attempts to interpose itself itself between the villain and his evil intentions." The creative team and the studio executives did butt heads on various issues, especially those relating to the religious content in the story, "for their failure to defend the poor and the powerless" and concerns that the story was "too controversial". Deconstructing Disney notes that the studio "approached the name of god with an almost Hebraic zeal (that it should never be stated) yet here it is invoked in a manner both pious and puritan." Many of the songs were adapted from genuine Latin prayers and chants, such as "Hellfire," which uses Mea culpa as a counterpoint melody. The association of the Church with a form of evil leadership by a man who is "[a religious leader] in almost all respects except the title" "implies a church that is ineffective if not full of vice", the same criticism Hugo gave in his novel. The Gospel According to Disney includes a quote that says "religion...appears as an impotent, irrelevant caricature [and] Disney refuses to admit a serious role for religion". At one point, the archdeacon says to Esmeralda, "You can't right all the wrongs of this world by yourself...perhaps there is someone in here who can," referring to God. This questions the power religious people actually have in making the world a moral and happy place.
There is what many view as attack on the Christian Right in the film, due to its strong theme of "religious and moral hypocrisy" - religious figures doing immoral things under the name of religion. Frollo is a complex figure who is torn between "good and evil; chastity and lust." While the church represents "the spirit of a Christian God," this is juxtaposed by the cruel actions and snap judgements of Frollo, who claims to be doing God's work. The Gospel According to Disney explains that "while Frollo's stated goal is to purge the world of vice and sin, according to the opening song, he 'saw corruption everywhere except within.'" Because "killing the woman on the steps has put Frollo's soul in mortal danger," he has to take the child and look after him as penance. Even then, he absolves himself of agency in the murder by claiming "God works in mysterious ways," and ponders whether "the child may be of use to him one day." During the song "God Help the Outcasts," Esmeralda brings up the point that Jesus — the person in whose name religious people such as Frollo persecute and subjugate "children of God" - was in fact an outcast too.
According to the film's production notes, Quasimodo is "symbolically viewed as being an angel in a devil's body." He is "trapped between heaven above [and] the gritty streets of urban Paris viewed as Hell." The version of the alphabet Quasimodo recites in a daily ritual reflects Frollo's view of the world — full of abominations and blasphemy. He is also constantly reminded he is deformed, ugly, a monster, and an outcast who would be hated if he ever left the confines of the church.
The film also criticizes materialism. When Esmeralda sings "God Help The Outcasts," she "walks in the opposite direction of more prosperous worshipers who are praying for material and earthly rewards." One literary device included in the song is the use of contrast and irony; the rich citizens pray for wealth, fame and "for glory to shine on their names" while the destitute Esmeralda prays for the poor and downtrodden.
The film premiered on June 19, 1996 at the New Orleans Superdome, where it was played on six enormous screens. The premiere was preceded by a parade through the French Quarter, beginning at Jackson Square and utilizing floats and cast members from Walt Disney World. The film was widely released two days later.
As part of the promotion of the film, Walt Disney Records shipped two million products, including sing-along home videos, soundtrack CD's, and the "My First Read Along" novelized version of the film, aimed at a toddler demographic. Tie-in promotions included Burger King, Payless Shoes, Nestle and Mattel. Despite the "disappointing" North American box office draws of $99 million, the combined sales of both ticket and spin-off products generated around $500 million in profit.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame opened on June 21, 1996 to positive reviews. As of September 2011, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a positive 73% based on 49 reviews with its consensus stating "Disney's take on the Victor Hugo classic is dramatically uneven, but its strong visuals, dark themes, and message of tolerance make for a more-sophisticated-than-average children's film". Despite this approval rating, Rotten Tomatoes placed it on their list of Kids' Movies Inappropriate for Children. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert rewarded the film 4 star calling it "the best Disney animated feature since Beauty and the Beast--a whirling, uplifting, thrilling story with a heart touching message that emerges from the comedy and song". Some criticism, however, was provided by fans of Victor Hugo’s novel, who were very unhappy with the changes Disney made to the material. Critics such as Arnaud Later, a leading scholar on Hugo, accused Disney of simplifying, editing and censoring the novel in many aspects, including the personalities of the characters. In his review, Later wrote that the animators "don't have enough confidence in their own emotional feeling" and that the film "falls back on clichés." London's The Daily Mail called The Hunchback of Notre Dame "Disney's darkest picture, with a pervading atmosphere of racial tension, religious bigotry and mob hysteria" and "the best version yet of Hugo's novel, a cartoon masterpiece, and one of the great movie musicals". Janet Maslin wrote in her New York Times review, "In a film that bears conspicuous, eager resemblances to other recent Disney hits, the filmmakers' Herculean work is overshadowed by a Sisyphean problem. There's just no way to delight children with a feel-good version of this story."
In its opening weekend, the film opened in second place at the box office, grossing $21 million. The film saw small decline in later weeks and ultimately grossed just over $100 million domestically and over $325 million worldwide, making it the fifth highest grossing film of 1996.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|Academy Awards||March 24, 1997||Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score||Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz||Nominated|
|Annie Awards||1997||Best Animated Feature||Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Feature Animation||Nominated|
|Best Individual Achievement: Animation||Kathy Zielinski||Nominated|
|Best Individual Achievement: Animation||James Baxter||Nominated|
|Directing in an Animated Feature Production||Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise||Nominated|
|Music in an Animated Feature Production||Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz||Nominated|
|Producing in an Animated Feature Production||Don Hahn||Nominated|
|David Goetz||Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Nominated|
|Brenda Chapman & Will Finn||Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Tony Jay||Nominated|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Tab Murphy (story), Irene Mecchi, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White, and Jonathan Roberts||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||January 19, 1997||Best Original Score - Motion Picture||Alan Menken||Nominated|
|ASCAP Award||1997||Top Box Office Films||Stephen Schwartz||Won|
|Saturn Awards||July 23, 1997||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|BMI Film Music Award||1997||Alan Menken||Won|
|Artios Awards||1997||Best Casting for Animated Voiceover||Ruth Lambert||Won|
|Golden Screen Award||1997||Won|
|Golden Reel Awards||1997||Motion Picture Feature Films: Sound Editing||Won|
|Animated Motion Picture Feature Films: Music Editing||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Awards||March 23, 1997||Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million||Tab Murphy (story), Irene Mecchi, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White, and Jonathan Roberts||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||January 15, 1997||Best Motion Picture - Animated or Mixed Media||Don Hahn||Won|
|Young Artist Awards||1997||Best Family Feature — Animation or Special Effects||Nominated|
- American Film Institute Lists
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was first released on VHS, standard CLV Laserdisc, and special edition CAV Laserdisc on March 4, 1997 under the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection label. It was then re-issued on March 19, 2002 on DVD along with its direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.
The film was adapted into a darker, more Gothic musical production, re-written and directed by James Lapine and produced by Walt Disney Theatrical, in Berlin, Germany. The musical Der Glöckner von Notre Dame (translated in English as The Bellringer of Notre Dame) was very successful and played from 1999 to 2002, before closing. A cast recording was also recorded in German. An English-language revival of the musical will premiere in San Diego on October 28, 2014.
Sequels and spin-offs
In 2002, a direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, was released on VHS and DVD. The plot focuses once again on Quasimodo as he continues to ring the bells now with the help of Zephyr, Esmeralda and Phoebus's son. He also meets and falls in love with a new girl named Madellaine who has come to Paris with her evil circus master, Sarousch. Disney thought that it was appropriate to make the sequel more fun and child-friendly due to the dark and grim themes of the original film.
Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Victor, Hugo, Laverne and Frollo all made guest appearances on the Disney Channel TV series House of Mouse. Frollo also can seen amongst a crowd of Disney Villains in Mickey's House of Villains.
In 1996, to tie in with the original theatrical release, The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Topsy Turvy Games was released by Disney Interactive for the PC and the Nintendo Game Boy, which is a collection of mini games based around the Festival of Fools that includes a variation of Balloon Fight.
A world based on the movie, "La Cité des Cloches" (The City of Bells), made its debut appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. It was the first new Disney world confirmed for the game. All of the main characters except Clopin and the Archdeacon (although Quasimodo did mentioned him in the English version) appear.
Disney has converted its adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame into other media. For example, Disney Comic Hits #11, published by Marvel Comics, features two stories based upon the film. From 1997 to 2002 Disney-MGM Studios hosted a live-action stage show based on the film and Disneyland built a new theater-in-the-round and re-themed Big Thunder Ranch as Esmeralda's Cottage, Festival of Foods outdoor restaurant and Festival of Fools extravaganza, which is now multipurpose space accommodating private events and corporate picnics.
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- "I've Got a Hunch That This Is a New Disney Masterpiece". The Daily Mail (London, England). 1996-07-12. p. 44.
- Don Hahn, Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise (2003). History Of The Production Of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (DVD). Disney DVD.
- Pinsky, Mark I (2004). The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust. ISBN 9780664234676.
- "Movie Review: The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Entertainment Weekly. June 21, 1996.
- Brew, Simon (16 May 2011). "Looking back at Disney’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame". Den of Geek. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- "It Happened Today: June 19". thisdayindisneyhistory.com. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
- Giroux, Henry A; Pollock, Grace (2010-04-16). The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence. ISBN 9781442203303.
- "The Hunchback of Notre Dame — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
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- Laster, Arnaud. "Waiting for Hugo". www.awn.com. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- Maslin, Janet (1996-06-21). "Film Review; The Dancing Gargoyles Romp and Wisecrack". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-09-11.
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- "'The Hunchback of Notre Dame / The Hunchback of Notre Dame II' Blu-ray Detailed". December 19, 2012.
- Into the California Sunlight! Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame Will Have Its U.S. Premiere at La Jolla
- Official website
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Internet Movie Database
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at AllMovie
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Comically Framing Virtue and Vice, chapter four in Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film