Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda and Martin Giroux as Phoebus Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda and Martin Giroux as Phoebus Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda & Martin Giroux as Phoebus

I have been watching videos of the most recent cast of Notre Dame de Paris and I noticed something about Hiba Tawaji’s portrayal of Esmeralda that was just off. It was something I couldn’t place but it was something I didn’t like. It was like she was trying to do too much but not succeeding. She  just wasn’t coming off as natural but forced.

Just so we’re clear this has nothing to with her as singer or person, this is just in her acting. She is fine as a singer.

Hiba Tawaji singing Bohemienne picture image

Hiba Tawaji singing Bohemienne

The weirdness in her acting was further noticeable when you watch the preview when the cast was announced. She is singing Bohemienne and she was coming off as sweet, happy and natural. From that video she seemed like the perfect Esmeralda. But then you watch the performance and she has a weird expression on her face and she trying to be sultry and playful and doing weird arm movements.

This led me to watch every Bohemienne performance I could find to see what the other Esmeraldas were doing since there is a bit of a disconnect from Segara’s original performance to what other Esmeraldas do with the song. I say this because I’m most familiar with Segara’s version but it’s not the standard anymore.

 

Helene Segara as Esmeralda and Patrick Fiori as Phoebus Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Phoebus Notre Dame de Paris

Bohemienne, under at least Segara, starts off mysterious and somewhat aloof. Some Esmeraldas maintain some mystery but in other parts of the song.  The reason why Segara’s Esmeralda starts this way was because of changes to the lead-in to the song. In the original Frollo starts off by ordering Phoebus to arrest the refugees in which he immediately  runs into Esmeralda and then she starts her song after he asks her who she is. There is a threat here with Phoebus, as he was starts pursuing her and then tries to flirt. She is aloof because she on her guard.

 

In subsequent versions Phoebus gets his orders, there is a scene shift and then runs into Esmeralda already dancing for the people. She is unaware of Phoebus’ orders. So the song is already upbeat and happy at the start.

 

Lola Ponce as Esmeralda Italian Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Lola Ponce as Esmeralda Italian Notre Dame de Paris

Most Esmeraldas perform Bohemienne in a happy upbeat playful manner. Dancing varies but most try to move in a dancing like fashion whether or not it looks natural. Probably the best Esmeralda at conveying the spirit of a dancer and  a playful flirtatious attitude is the Italian cast Original Esmeralda, Lola Ponce. She is very natural in this performance. However the trade-off is her singing suffers. While it’s not bad she does get breathy and out breath in places but you can forgive it as she commits.

Many Italian Esmeraldas follow Ponce’s example in the playful flirty persona. Some try and focus more on singing so they don’t commit as fully. Some are just less natural in their movements and you can see them aiming to hit the next mark.

Other Esmeraldas it’s  just hard to tell if their happy and succeeding in the choreography because the quality of footage is bad.            

 

Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda & Jay as Clopin Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Hiba Tawaji as Esmeralda & Jay as Clopin

   

So it’s a question of choreography vs singing vs an Esmeralda who is natural with their movements.  It would be unfair to put the blame solely on Tawaji as the choreography is weird at times. Like when she gesturing out towards the audience, why? Or maybe she’s just not super comfortable trying to move sensually while trying to be playful, effervescent and flirtatious while maintaining good vocals. It’s a tall order if not impossible   But then you watch Tawaji perform other songs in the show there is still that awkwardness with her movements so I don’t know. She could not be a very adept actress, great singer and not good in the acting department, she wouldn’t be the first singer not great at acting.

However there seems to be awkwardness with Daniel Lavoie’s movements in this version opposed to his original performance,  so I really don’t know what to think. Could be the director? Or maybe this all better live and the videos are not doing the performances any justice?

The point is in the case of Bohemienne  there is no right way to perform the song. The performer can be more playful, aloof,  flirtatious, sensual, wistful, youthful etc. However it does seem like sometimes the minor choreography can get in the way of the performer’s natural movements and that is when an Esmeralda can look mechanical or awkward and that is something an Esmeralda should never be.   

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013 picture image

Natalia Osipova as Esmeralda, Roberto Bolle as Quasimodo and Mick Zeni as Frollo, Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 2013

 

This version of Hugo’s novel is very pared down to a very minimal telling of the story. You have the four principal characters: Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Frollo and Phoebus. The ballet doesn’t have  Gringoire, Clopin, Fleur de Lys, or extra characters.

As one can guess having only the love/lust plot-line it follows that trajectory and doesn’t concern its self with the subject of blight of the downtrodden, social justice or the modernity of the printing impact on architecture.

It starts with Quasimodo getting crown Pope of Fools, Frollo gets mad. Esmeralda dances to which she attracts the attention of Quasimodo and Frollo.

Frollo then has Quasimodo kidnap Esmeralda. And here is where we a deviation. After Quasimodo grabs Esmeralda they are set upon by the corps dressed in red. Now I was very confused, I had no idea what was happening. I thought it was maybe fire or that the dancers were somehow symbolic of Frollo’s lust. I didn’t know!

According to http://ticket.heraldtribune.com (an actually well-done review) the corps are portraying thugs. This makes sense both within the context of the ballet’s narrative and adapting Hugo’s story. In the original novel after the kidnapping, Gringoire, who was trying to help Esmeralda, is set upon by the Court of Miracles. However the thugs are now in this scene to help convey Quasimodo as more sympathetic as he is protecting Esmeralda. This adaption isn’t really necessary to story and could have been skipped but works to add more dancing which you need in a ballet.    

So after the thugs are dealt with, Phoebus then arrests Quasimodo. Phoebus notices Esmeralda and they are attracted to each other. Then Quasimodo is sentenced and Esmeralda gives him water.  Esmeralda and Phoebus have their tyst, though he flirts with whores prior and during their time together. That is to communicate Phoebus’ lack of romantic feelings towards Esmeralda and that he just in it for the sex.  He is then stabbed by Frollo. I’m pretty sure that Phoebus does in fact die in this version.

Esmeralda has her trial and is sentenced. Quasimodo then saves her from the gallows.

The second act is Esmeralda and Quasimodo bond. Frollo then attacks Esmeralda and I mean he slaps her a bunch. She is then dragged off to her death. Quasimodo strangles Frollo and then carries Esmeralda’s body away.

It is a very basic rendition of Hunchback which is fine for medium of ballet. You don’t want anything too complex but is this telling too simple? Perhaps. It is very pared down to a degree that basic disney’s knockoff have more developed story lines though that is not always a good thing. 

To be honest the narrative only works to convey mood, style and dancing and that is what this Ballet is all about. But we should address the character before getting to those points of interest.  

I have been wanting to these type of posts for a while. Basically it’s just fashions, mostly gowns, that look similar to an Esmeralda costume in someway.

Renato Balestra, Spring 2014 picture image

Renato Balestra, Spring 2014

 

This gown by  Renato Balestra from spring 2014, is akin to Disney Esmeralda’s costume in terms of its color story and verticality. I also like that it has a sari-like way about kind adding to appeal.

Ralph Fiennes picture image

Ralph Fiennes

This was a suggestion of one of those lists I found a while ago and truthfully this is a great casting idea. Ralph Fiennes would be a perfect  Frollo.

 

Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights picture image

Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

As far as Fiennes acting prowess goes, he can played Frollo regardless of the type of Frollo the version is depicting. Whether it be sympathetic or cruel or some mixture of both.  Fiennes has a very unique ability to make his villains likable yet still very threatening. Even his hero gambit run the gambit from nice to intense.    

 

Ralph Fiennes picture image

Ralph Fiennes

Fiennes has a good look to play Frollo. Not only is he age appropriate to the role but he has a great bone structure for Frollo’s angular, austere yet intense face.

 

Ralph Fiennes picture image

Ralph Fiennes

He’s got it all. He has good look for the role, he’s age appropriate (if you care), and  he’s capable of playing a likable bad guy. Fiennes would be an  ideal casting pick for Frollo in any induration of the character.  But what do you think? Would you like to see the actor who played He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named play Frollo?

 

 

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise picture image

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise

Also the idea of the actors who played Voldemort and and  Dumbledore playing the same character makes me smile.

Way back in April 2018, I asked which  version of Hunchback should be next to review. I had a few versions of my radar, like the Dingo version and La Esmeralda. See post here

Now I did picked one a while but due to personal issues I wasn’t ready to sit down and go back down the rabbit hole. So I  put it off till now, hopefully.

Roland Petit's Notre Dame de Paris ballet picture image

Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris ballet

The version that is up next was  a suggested by neala897 and it’s the Roland Petit Ballet. We will see how this goes because ballets are hard to review.

As of yet I have not watch the Ballet that will come later as I as fresh of perspective as possible.

But here is a little background information. Petit mounted Notre Dame de Paris in 1965 with music by Maurice Jarre.  Jarre was a film composer who did the music on films like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Passage to India (1984.)    I will just say one source site the ballet as debuting in 1965 and another sites 1967, the point is this ballet is from the 60s.  

So let’s get into this. I’m going to watch the version performed by the Opéra national de Paris, 1996 with Isabelle Guérin as Esmeralda, Nicolas Le Riche as Quasimodo,  Laurent Hilaire as Frollo and  Manuel Legris as Phoebus.

Who has seen this version or at least this ballet before?

(Note – The picture is from the 2013 production)

Esmeralda's iPod Commercial Lola Ponce Italian Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda’s iPod Commercial

Previously I randomly had my itunes play songs to see how often  a Hunchback song or Hunchback related song came up. By related song I mean the artist was in some way associated with a Hunchback version.

Each test consistent of 20 songs and I did five test. A total of 100 song. Here are the results, I’m only revealing the Hunchback or Hunchback related songs that played.

Test 3

-Dans nos Souvenirs by Helene Segara

– Bohemienne by Helene Segara

– Le Temps de Cathedral Seoul French Cast

– Oh L’adorable Creature from La Esmeralda

– Julie Ose by Julie Zenatti

– Dieu que la Monde Seoul French Cast

6/20 = 30%

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Test 4

– Vivre Notre Dame de Paris Symphonique

– Je Voudrais une Chanson Interlude 2 by Julie Zenatti

– Le Process Notre Dame de Paris Original cast (another ringtone)

– La Monture by Chiara Di Bari Notre Dame de Paris Seoul French Cast

4/20 = 20%

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Test 5

– Trommein der Stodt from Hunchback of Notre dame Berlin (note this the second time this song played)

– I’m a Priest by Daniel Lavoie Notre Dame de Paris London cast

– Overture from La Esmeralda

– Ave Maria Paien Notre Dame de Paris Symphonique

– Recitatifet et Duo: Donc Phoebus est A Monfort from La Esmeralda

– Qu’Est-ce Qu’on va Faire avec Monde by Helene Segara

6/20 = 30%

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The Overall Results

22 out of 100 songs were from a Hunchback version or sung by someone associated with a Hunchback version, or 22%.

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I thought this was an  interesting test. Not sure how I feel but I do have a lot of random music from over the years so maybe 22% isn’t so bad.

 

Last week I randomly listened to 20 songs on my iTunes so see what the probability was of getting either a Hunchback song or a song sung but an artist affiliated with a Hunchback version. The result were one in five or 20%.  This is the second test. Nothing have changed I have added no new songs.

So instead of me listing all the songs I got I’m only going to mention which Hunchback songs were played because no care about my music.

Test 2 had disappointing results as only one Hunchback song was played and it should barley count. The song was Visite de Frollo Esmeralda from Notre Dame de Paris  but it was only the Je t’aime part. A while ago I wanted it for a ringtone. Turns out I used the opening of La Sociere more.

So the result was 1 in 20. or 5%. Not as good as last time. Went down 15% from test one.

     

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

You know who in the Disney line-up would make the perfect Disney Princess? Who embodies the ideal of what it means to be a lovely human being? Quasimodo.

In all seriousiness ,Quasimodo meets all the qualifications for Disney Princess-dom, whatever that means and to be fair to this idea  the official rules don’t actually make a stipulation that the “Princess” has to be a female. It;s implied but not stated.  But given that Quasimodo is presented as a man lets consider him and the only female human character isn the movie, Esmeralda and   lets’ look at the the official rules and the meta guidelines.

Rule one states that they must have a primary role in an animated movie. I think Esmeralda and Quasimodo both have that, especially Quasimodo. Check

Rule two states the character must be human or become human. Check for both Esmeralda and Quasimodo. Especially given the thesis of Hunchback is What makes a monster and what makes a man? Check

Rule three is they can’t be a sequel only character. Yeah, I don’t think I have to explain this one. Check

Rule four says that the character must be royal, marry royal or perform an act of heroism. As we all know the act of heroism was only there so Mulan could be in the line up. I would say that Esmeralda going against authority to save Quasimodo from the mob and Quasimodo saving Esmeralda as well as defending the cathedral as well as bring down a corrupt public official hell bent on rape,  murder, and genocide is an act of heroism. So Check!

Rule five the characters must be from a box office hit i.e. the movie had to have made money. Because Disney loves it money, like most companies.  But since the rule uses the words “Box Office” which means movie ticket sales  we have to look at those numbers. These amounts are from www.boxofficemojo.com.

Now I know what you might be think, Hunchback didn’t make a lot of money at the box office. Well this might surprise  some but Hunchback made more at the Box Office than some movies that have official Disney princesses. Hunchback made $325,338,851 worldwide. Mulan made $304,320,254 worldwide. The Princess and the Frog made $267,045,765 worldwide. I will concede that both Mulan and The Princess and the Frog did better domestically than Hunchback but Box Office seems be in place to explain why Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron  and Kida from Atlantis are not up for discussion as part of the line-up as they are both actual Princesses in their movies. While Hunchback isn’t popular it still made more money than a movie that Disney bent-over backwards to allow in the line up.

So there are the official rules which Esmeralda and Quasimodo and all pass BUT let’s look at some meta rules or guidelines that appear in the Wreck-it Ralph 2 trailer because Disney like to poke fun at its self.        

In the trailer  Pocahontas asks Vanellope what kind of Princess she is, these are the questions asked to her but the official Pincess and Elsa who isn’t one but who cares.

Magic Hair?   No.

Magic Hands? No.

Do animals talk to you? Quasimodo talks to a bird and Esmeralda talk to Djali the goat, so check      

Poisoned ? Who can say? Maybe Quasimodo was poisoned but no.

Cursed?  Who can say? Maybe Quasimodo was cursed but no.

Kidnapped or enslaved? This one is weird since Belle wasn’t either. It was her idea to trade herself in for her father and she wasn’t enslaved and either was Rapunzel. But Quasimodo falls into the Belle/Rapunzel brand of princess So check there.

Do people assume all your problems got solved because a big strong man showed up?   It’s a meta thing but one would have to watch the movie and look into the relationship dynamics. But did Quasimodo’s problem get solved because of a man? Quasimodo’s problem was abusive parental figure. I guess Phoebus and Esmeralda helped him to see that Frollo sucked? Esmeralda was aided by Phoebus. But were her problem solved by him? Considering she acks for help for her people and outcasts, no in the long run but maybe the fall of Frollo helped in short-term?  So yes to this one?

Anyway,  They get a pass for the meta qualifications, since it just seems like one is all you need but who knows? They are not hard and fast rules.

Should Quasimodo and Esmeralda be officially Disney Princesses? Yes they pass all the rules except the only rule that matters; Disney doesn’t like The Hunchback of Notre Dame because it’s not popular. The rules are just a front. After all Elsa and Anna are not in the line up, they have their own franchise that makes money. They don’t need the Disney Princess label.     

The reality is while it’s nice to muse about a male character being in the princess line up it’s not going to happen and Esmeralda was at some point in the line up but got dropped like Alice. It is interesting however to see how little the rules matter when they are all met and still nothing. If everything the rules just look hypocritical to allow one character through or bar others.    

Here’s a dumb post, what is the chance of me getting a hunchback or hunchback related song (as in a singer who associated with a Hunchback version) to randomy play on itunes when it is on shuffle? I know, super important scientific enquiry!

Now I don’t really listen to my music on iTunes anymore. I tend to use Pandora, spotify or youtube so the music I have on iTunes represents my taste circa mid 2000s up to 2014 roughly. So I have a lot anime/ video game music and Bollywood and random stuff as well as Norte Dame de Paris and other Hunchback stuff.

I took a sample of 20 songs because 20 is a good sample size. So what is the likelihood of me listening to a Hunchback song or a singer from a Hunchback version on itunes in shuffle mode?

Click for the list of songs

1. Rien n’est comme avant by Helene Segara (1)
2. Beau comme Soleil by Nadia Bel (2) DAMN first two out of the gate
3. Higurashi no naku koro ni opening
4. Tromme in der stadt from Berlin Hunchback Musical (3) We’re getting so many
5. Now I’m your Mom by David Byrne
6. Tere Liye from Veer-Zaara
7. Wind City [ City of Wind Windia] by Cyril the Wolf (This is the 2nd time I have listen to this)
8. Kokoro no Kasa wa from Sakura Wars
9. Kogaku Motet from Final Fantasy 9 Plus OST
10. A Walk in the Dark by David Byrne (I love this song)
11. Fossil Roo from Final Fantasy 9 OST
12. Pandemonium from Final Fantasy 9 OST
13. Broken Things by David Byrne
14. Surreal by Ayumi Hamasaki
15. Sumida from Sakura Wars
16. Hungarian Dance no.5 by Brahms
17. Amnesie by Julie Zenatti (4)
18. La Sorciere from Notre Dame de Paris (5)
19. Kalluri Vaanil from Pennin Manathai Thottu (The Benny Lava song)
20. Phony King of England from Disney Robin Hood

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The result is one in five or 20%

But everyone knows that good science requires testing so MAYBE  I will do this again sometime for science. Another good experiment would be the frequency of language. Like how many English language songs I get, or French, or Japanese or Hindi, but this a Hunchback blog so let’s keep to hunchback.  But in this case of this sample because I’m curious;

Click for song language frequency

Engish – 5 out of 20
French – 4 out of 20
Hindi – 1 out of 20
Instrumental – 4 out of 20
Japanese – 4 out of 20
miscellaneous – 2 out of 20

I’m kinda surprised that  more English songs came up.

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I have become fascinated by the culture of youtube videos where people buy basically low quality products off of sites like Wish and Romwe just for the curiosity of what the low cost products are like in real life. It does seem that youtube is a sea of these types vicarious purchasing videos as evident by all the haul and product base review videos.

Now I have gotten at least two items from Romwe in the past and I hated them and I have no desire to get anything off of Wish but I want to play in this content sandbox too so I decided to see what Wish had to offer for Hunchback products.   

Wish Disney Esmeralda Costume picture image

Wish Disney Esmeralda Costume

Turns out it seems like to search through Wish you need to  have an account, screw that. A cursory google search brought me to a $93 Esmeralda costume, which looks like a really good costume. However,   Wish is notorious for using other people’s images to sell the products so is this actually the costume someone would get in that mail?    

Aliexpress Disney Esmeralda Costume picture image

Aliexpress Disney Esmeralda Costume

The same picture is used on Esmeralda costume on Aliexpress along with some other pictures of clearly different Esmeralda costumes. Also there are two different sellers on Aliexpress “selling” this particular costume.

myshow26 Disney Esmeralda costume picture image

myshow26 Disney Esmeralda costume

 

After a bit more research I found this costume on eBay where I finally could read the watermark which reads myshow26. This is not a person but a cosplay company. They sell a lot on amazon.jp. The only myshow26 costume I could find on amazon.com was Ariel’s Blue dress.  So while this product may not be the best quality at least the sellers did not steal someone’s cosplay picture to sell the product. It is in fact the product they are selling (in theory.)   

Now for the record I don’t want to waste any money for curiosities of what this costume is actually like in person,  so I failed there but the culture of buying products for the sake of entertainment is very interesting to me. The people on youtube buying these cheap products are making their money back on ad revenues at least the bigger channels are but it still stands that people are being entertained by someone else’s consumerism.  And if I were to get a advance degree in sociology or even anthropology,  I would love to study it more or just read reviewed articles on the subject for fun.