Without a doubt this is Esmeralda’s movie. This is made very clear by her 3 minute long dance scene that only cuts away to Frollo staring at her but you can still see her in a reflection. Many consider the 1956 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Esmeralda to one of the best Esmeraldas. Many feel she has the right look, grace and free-spirited nature that Esmeralda should have. I personally have a few issues with this version of Esmeralda.
First off, I feel like I’m being lied to with this Esmeralda.What she says and how she act feel in opposition to how she looks and her mannerisms. I feel like this Esmeralda was written to be played by a young actress but then Gina Lollobridga was cast and the sensuality was turn up. Lollobridga reads too mature and sultry but then she tries to act innocence and carefree. I don’t believe her when she says that she “has never known men before.” I don’t buy it.
Although I admit, my issue with Esmeralda’s duality could be because of her costume. Color aside, her two main costumes age her. I will get to costumes in a later post so I won’t so into too much detail but I feel the veil, the very define corset waistline and the 1950’s cat eye age her. She looks far more believable as a young women when she in the simple prisoner shift at the end of the movie.
Since Esmeralda is the main focus of this move you would think that they dynamic between Esmeralda and Frollo would be really strong but Esmeralda and Frollo don’t really have many interactions with each other in this movie. Esmeralda admits that she afraid of him but she seems to be more uncomfortable around him which robs the would-be drama from their interactions. It fact there scene are a pretty dull.
I think the dance scene sums up her character in this movie perfectly. She is aloof, mysterious, very sensual and slightly exuberant. I mean her personality is there I’m just not sure if it’s the costume, Lollobridga mannerism or her natural sex appeal that holds back this Esmeralda as being a great depiction of the character.
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