Der Glöckner von Notre Dame has a lot of differences from the Disney Film; some small some big. Here are the major differences in a nutshell (in no real order);
No Djali or Achilles, Esmeralda dies, Quasimodo kills Frollo, Frollo was a Priest, Phoebus starts off somewhat of a philander, the gargoyles are 100% imaginary, the gargoyles have different names (Antoine, Charles and Loni opposed to Victor, Hugo and Laverne), the story is told as flashback by Clopin as an old beggar man who doesn’t use puppets, Esmeralda is shown out of Notre Dame rather than Quasimodo holding her while climbing down, The Court of Miracles Song is replace by a dance number, the archdeacon brings a wounded Phoebus to Quasimodo and Out There is split between two songs.
Some of these differences don’t add too much but some add a great deal because some of these differences add Character Development. Quasimodo gets an arch in the stage version. Like in the Disney movie Quasimodo starts off naive, he wants to see the world for himself despite what Frollo tells him, however in Glöckner Quasimodo does not come off as gentle as he does in the movie and his emotions are more intense. This gives way for more interesting character development. Also in the movie Quaismodo claims to believe Frollo only out of fear for Frollo not because he actually believes him. In Glöckner it seems that he fully trusts Frollo at the beginning, they even make a point of mentioning Quasimodo lying to Frollo for the first time at the end of Act I when Quasimodo denies knowledge of Esmeralda’s escape to Frollo. Quasimodo’s trust in Frollo makes Quasimodo killing Frollo at the end all the more dramatic.
It’s not just Quasimodo to get a character development Phoebus gets an arch too. He starts off as a guy who just wants to have fun and views his new position as a path for “Rest and Recreation.” But through interactions with Esmeralda he learns that he would rather be “good’ than do what his boss tells him i.e burning an innocent family to death. Esmeralda doesn’t exactly get character development but her backstory about of how she gets into trouble and is forced to move around because she expresses her opinion without a filter makes her at least a little more human and flawed. Disney’s Esmeralda was just too perfect, some goes for Disney Phoebus.
However I don feel that Frollo’s backstory was unnecessary (Frollo’s background as a Priest). I know what Glöckner was trying to do and as a fan of the book I do appreciate that they tried to make Frollo like he was in the book but it didn’t really add to any character development or an arch. To my knowledge Frollo being a former Priest was only mentioned once. I guess it adds a single shade of a backstory to him but most megalomaniacal people in power position don’t really need a reason to think they are better than most people. Plus why would someone who was once a Priest decide that the best way to cleanse to the world (or in this case Paris) of vice and sin was to promote genocide and corporal punishment? If anything Glöckner’s Frollo being a Priest adds further questions to his character and backstory. At least Disney’s Frollo was just a megalomaniacal mad man who has power and was having a control issue.
I do think a lot of changes between the film and stage version were good and added something that was missing from the original Disney film. However adding things from the book to make a compromise between the book and the Disney film really didn’t work that well. Maybe had the spent some more time developing Frollo it could have worked but it really didn’t.
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