Warren Clarke as Quasimodo 1977 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

There are only three ways to make the role of Quasimodo more Oscar baity; Set the story during WW2, make it about actors being great or have Quasimodo eat a raw bison liver or all three! Sure it would be a weird adaptation but you got to hedge your Oscar bets. All kidding aside, Quasimodo is the dream role for an actor to get acting accolades, it’s combines a demanding physical performance with a deeply emotional one. Plus actors love playing ugly characters, that’s how you know they’re good at acting.

 Warren Clarke as Quasimodo 1977 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

One would think that most Quasimodo since Laughton would keep that mode of Quasimodo, the sad type, that was the angle of the 1997 version. Or they would keep to the book and give Quasimodo his mild arc of hating people except Frollo and then liking Esmeralda more than his own life. Disney deviated to give him arc about overcoming his oppressor. However the 1977 version follows more the 1956 approach the character in that while he there he has no personality.

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo 1977 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

Like Quinn’s version, Warren Clarke plays, or was directed to play, Quasimodo as super happy. This is the happiest Quasimodo ever. Either he has a mental deficiency in addition to being deaf or he is just so happy. Doesn’t make for a compelling character if he just happy. So when he tells Esmeralda that he wishes he was like Djali or that he would jump with just a look or cries when Esmeralda yells at him it doesn’t feel in character. It a shame since Clarke seems like he could have pulled off the character with better direction and writing.

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo 1977 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

Even the psychically it just lacking. Clarke has a hunch as part of his costume, which is standard, bit most of the other actor still hunch expect for Quinn and one of the Russian Quasimodo from Notre Dame de Paris.

 Warren Clarke as Quasimodo 1977 The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

It’s liked there were different visions for this version of the character and they somehow all made it to screen and the result is just a weird smiling mess.

 Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo

It’s a little tricky to really formulate an opinion of the 1977 version of Frollo. On the one hand, this is one of the most accurate versions of the characters. He’s a priest, he does practice alchemy, he expressives desire for Esmeralda. However one major fault with the character is just in the way the movie is shot and how it counters  Frollo’s character.

 Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo

Let’s be clear, Kenneth Haigh does fine with the material and direction he was given.  Frollo is not  easy role to play since it’s all very internal. You either need to allow for the director to get facial shots or you could run the risk of over acting.  

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Trouble with the 1977 version and with MANY versions is that it’s shot as purely representational, it’s a period piece and the filmmakers don’t add any artistic shots, angles or lighting to hint at the characters’ internal struggles thus relying solely of dialogue and expressions. And at most with Frollo the character’s austerity doesn’t allow for many chances for the desirous or conflicted expressions to be showcase. Not saying they are not there even in this version, they are but they are downplayed. The most Frollo gets is yelling about his desire, closing his eyes and the red door scene. He does do his crazy laugh but even that seemed to be tame and awkward. He does not seem like a man insane with lust.

Frollo singing Hellfire Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo singing Hellfire Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo’s character almost exists more in musicals. The best showcases of Frollo’s character are Disney’s Hellfire and Notre Dame de Paris’ Tu vas me Detruire. As both pieces use song, a nice substitute for dialogue, expressions/body language and visuals to give insight to the character. Hellfire uses fire and hellish imagery to get the point across whereas Tu vas me Detruire has stone pillars or  the church literally trying to crush Frollo.

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo performing Tu vas me Detruire Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo performing Tu vas me Detruire

You can interpret this as  his desires will crush  him or that the church is trying to stop his desires and he the one pushing them away choosing to give in to his lust for Esmeralda thus choosing to be destroyed.

Example of Chiaroscuro Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Frollo, 1939

The only non-musical movie version to actually give some thought to visual representation of Frollo’s desire  is the 1939 movie. In that version when Frollo backs Esmeralda against a tree to confess, there are some great shadows, with only his eyes illuminated which makes him look insane as the actor, Cedric Hardwicke, keeps them opened very wide.        

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Kenneth Haigh as Frollo The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Kenneth Haigh as Frollo

With respect to the 1977 version it is one of the few versions to get Frollo’s scenes down. One example is when Frollo and Gringoire spirit Esmeralda out and Gringoire leaves her with Frollo. Though the scene is vastly shorter than in the book I appreciate that they at least made a go at having that scene in the movie.  But that being said is having all the scenes in movie presents in the movie but shot is a plain efficient manner somehow better than approaching the material in way that makes it visually interesting? I would say no. This is a good effort at the character and his scene but it’s just a dull rendition.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Warren Clarke The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Warren Clarke as Quasimodo

Like the 1986 burbank version the 1977 follows the plot quite faithfully. Aside from the Sister Gudule plotline this version is the most accurate to the book.   There is no vault scene of Quasimodo lying down beside Esmeralda’s body instead there is a weird ending where Phoebus and Fleur de Lys’ wedding processional dances around Frollo’s fallen corpse with Esmeralda’s body hanging in the background. And Gringoire just laughs it off saying the he survive to tell the tale. BAD ENDING!

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Kenneth Haigh as Frollo The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda & Kenneth Haigh as Frollo The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

But the ending is a symptom of a larger issue with the plot, sure it’s got in a lot of scenes from the book, like the scene where Frollo and Gringoire spirits Esmeralda out of Notre on the boat and Gringoire leaves her with Frollo, that scene is never don except slightly in the Jetlag version but to point the movie doesn’t elevate the scenes. The actors say their lines MAYBE  emote a little and that is it.   It’s like a very mechanical boring version of the book.

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The adherence to the book is it’s only selling point. There is nothing much this version has to offer but the plot. Aside from that there is no artistic vision, no mood, and no heart.  

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

The poll is closed and the chosen version is the 1977 version. This maybe the last “big” movie version I have left to review till hopefully another movie version gets made (it’s long overdue at this point).

The 1977 version, like the 1982 and the 1997 version, was made as a TV movie and again like the 1982 version it was made from British TV. It was directed by Alan Cooke and the screenplay was writer by Robert Mueller.  It stared Warren Clarke as Quasimodo, Michelle Newell as Esmeralda and Kenneth Haigh as Frollo.

So why did it take me so long to get to this version? Was a saving it because it’s amazing? Or is it amazingly shitty? The answer is it either but I hate it! It’s so boring despite it being THE MOST ACCURATE ONE!

 

Side Note – This version is also dated as 1976 but  I’l just go with 1977.