Frollo in book is a repressed guy who has no experience dealing with women. As a devote man of god and science he value his purity and prides himself as being above the rest. His madness come out of his devotion. This can be said for Frollo in Quasimodo d’El Paris though in this movie Frollo is Bat-shit crazy. He is insane.
What he does is murder women and turns there bodies in to gargoyle to adorn the church. He thinks these women are unhappy and this makes them happy. He is not delusional he actually believes this is what his mission is, he even has an impressive and comedically over-the-top murder rig lair. This could be the plot of some dark gritty movie and not a comedic Hunchback movie.
However given that this is a comedy Frollo is comedic. He really does embody the weird, and I mean weird comedic tone of the movie which is a cross of understated and over-the-top. You would this those styles don’t go together but oddly they do. I do want to discuss the humor more but three parts that illustrate this duality of humor are Frollo wishing Quasimodo Happy Birthday. He says Party time with a big gesture and a monotone expression, when he preaching the “Lord” message to the prostitutes, and when Quasimodo buries Frollo in the sand with only his head sticking out, actually the whole of the trip to beach should count.
Howver the bigger question is how is Frollo at being Frollo. A point in this version of Frollo’s favor is that this is the only version where his and Quasimodo is closer to what it was more like in the book and by that I mean they like each other. So many version Frollo seems to hardly even like Quasimodo. In this version, Frollo likes Quasimodo nearly to obsession. He kisses hims calls him his baby, teaches him, builds up Quasimodo’s deadliness to protect him, busts him out of jail and he is totally ok with Quasimodo killing him. Like it’s nothing at all.
Speaking of obsession, I do feel like Frollo’s obsession with Esmeralda is more of an after-thought. I mean he is already murdering women, he already has an outlet for his repression of sexual desires. He does seem to like Esmeralda more and even want her to join him in his quest of murdering women. At this point Frollo says verbatium lines from the books. The lines are from ‘the tomb or my bed’ speech he gives her. While I do like it when Frollo gets to say his book lines, they felt rather forced, I don’t believe this Frollo would say these things or even believe those word, they felt out of character. Also another weird out of character mark for Frollo is his name. Yes it’s Frollo but his first name is Serge and not Claude. Why?
There is another aspect of this Frollo that is worth noting, he has a lot of weird phallic imagery associated with him. First of his middle finger. Frollo gives the finger A LOT during this movie. Mostly the finger is a “Fuck you” but in Ancient times is was symbol for intercourse. Frollo is not JUST giving the finger to people, his middle finger is also concealing a blade, another bit of phallic imagery. It does end there however, Frollo also has a pet eel. Other than more phallic imagery I don’t know what this means.
As he stands to book Frollo, this Frollo falls short especially with regard to his all-consuming lust for Esmeralda. It never really felt like it was a super big issue for him. In fact he really goes after Esmeralda because he wants to get Quasimodo out of jail and it was revenge on her parents angle. So the lust really isn’t there as much as it could have been or should have been. In the scope of the movie hover his comedic insanity is fun to watch even though he is a mass murder.
I do have to give Richard Berry props for keeping both his middle finger very straight and up nearly the entire movie.