The Frollo in the 1997 version of Hunchback is odd to say the least. He is a weird mash of the 1939 version’s obsession with fear of the modernity and vampire-monk. Really it’s hard to get over the look of him but that is the least of his problems.
Let’s start with the root of Frollo, his obsession and this is the bad part of this depiction. Frollo in this version is struggling with getting rid of printing presses to keep the ease of access on acquiring knowledge down. Frollo is accused of trying to suppress knowledge but he loves knowledge. His feeling is that if knowledge is easy to get it, it cheapens it, so down with printed books. The one he is struggling against is the king’s minister whom Frollo kills instead of Phoebus. Frollo’s obsession for Esmeralda seem to spawn from his inability to get the king of his side about the printing press.
Frollo’s obsession is split and this and this is the problem. Frollo in this version is way more into the printing press than getting Esmeralda. He only seem to press the issue with Esmeralda because his resolve is being tested and he is weak. This robs everything from Frollo’s drama. It not interesting to watch this split obsession, Frollo obsession should be all consuming. Perhaps weakness begets weakness but Frollo’s character suffers a lot for it. His obsession for Esmeralda feels like an afterthought than a major plot point.
I think Richard Harris does a fair job with the material but any passion or energy he could have given to Frollo is not there. It’s not like not there but the most I show was him taking baout knowledge. I think i idea was to keep Frollo repressed with Esmeralda but when he says he was mad and crazy for for her but we never seem those emotion it cheapens the performance, the dialogue and the story.
Then we have his looks. This Frollo is very different, he looks like Nosferatu. It’s very austere even for Frollo. The look is really distracting because he is suppose to look old, he is not suppose to look like a vampire from 1922.
I know Richard Harris was a good actor and Frollo should be a great character to play but this depiction of Frollo has passion for the wrong aspect and the character is a confused mess.
Next Time GringoireFollow thehunchblog