In Victor Hugo’s original book, Notre Dame is more than just a setting. Notre Dame was character and the whole of Quasimodo’s universe. Quasimodo’s existent was so much engrained in Notre Dame that Quasimodo was essentially its soul.
Disney’s representation of Notre Dame of Paris in very much in opposition to the book. In the Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s just a building and its’ role is more like a prison than a sanctuary. Frollo arranged baby Quasi to live in the bell tower where he can be “locked away where no one else can see.” Quasimodo then dreams of getting out of Notre dame. Now in the book Quasimodo loved Notre Dame he didn’t want to leave it, he loved it. Esmeralda also tells the Court of Miracles that Quasimodo “ helped her escape from the Cathedral”. Notre dame is pegged as something that has to be escaped because it’s a prison. Which is why it’s odd when Phoebus makes his speech about Frollo declaring war on Notre Dame. Frollo seems to be an agent working with Notre Dame to keep people in, so why do people want to defend it? I think it just Frollo-hate on the part of the Parisians, I mean he did burn the city. And when Quasimodo declares santaury for Esmeralda. The movie presents it as prison not sanctuary so why is it so great for Esmeralda to have sanctuary? Really, that climix is contrived when it you think about.
My guess is original text had an attack of Notre Dame where Quasimodo defends it and Esmeralda from misidentified attackers and pours molten lead out the gutters and Disney really wanted to do that shot and that’s why they had to do it. But Notre Dame’s status in the story got lost among the 18 story writers. That’s right, 18 people worked on the story, there are not even 18 characters. It’s a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen. I think ultimately that the 18 writer are to blame for all the differences to characters and to plot and for making an important point of the book the role of Notre Dame from sanctuary to prison.
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