So last time we looked at the Disney characters on a board level, now lets look at them on a deeper level.

Let’s start with the titular character: Quasimodo!

Quasimodo  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo’s Reveal

 

Quasimodo may be told he is ugly and monstrous but if we compare him to his book counterpart, he is on the cute side of the monster spectrum. He’s a hunchback and he is shorter than most of the other characters, but that’ not enough to make him an isolated monster.  He has the over-the-eye  protrusion that Hugo described but it does not impair his’ vision to the point of being a cyclopes. Instead Quasimodo has big, friendly doe eyes. He has a red full head of head hair and wears a green tunic. Two of the more uglier factors  are his  big stub nose and his  teeth  (large teeth in the front of his mouth).

 

Quasimodo singing "Out There"  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo singing “Out There”

Unlike Hugo’s version, Quasimodo is not deaf, he sings and talks a lot but it being a musical it would have been a challenge for the directors to have a deaf hero who has to sing (Disney movie from the 90s, heros must sing), so it understandable why Quasimodo is not deaf.

 

 

Quasimodo’s personality in the Disney movie is completely different from the book. In the book Quasimodo is morose and angry. At the beginning of the book he only loves Notre Dame, the bells, and Frollo. He’s not interested  in being among the normal people of Paris nor is he forbidden from going out among them.  Disney’s Quasimodo is forbidden from going outside and all he wants is to spend one day of his life among the normal people.

Quasimodo gazing at Esmeralda  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo gazing at Esmeralda

As the story progresses he falls in love with Esmeralda. In the Book, he falls in love with her after she shows a little kinds and pity by giving him water when he is on the pillory for trying to kidnap her because Frollo ordered him. That simple act was what did it for him, not her dancing or her looks. In Disney again Esmeralda shows him kindness but when he first meets her, she was kind to him and complimented his ugly mask (really his face) and Quasimodo likes the positive attention. He see her dance and he likes it.

Quasimodo and Esmeralda on the pillory  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  image picture

Quasimodo and Esmeralda on the pillory

When Quasimodo is being tortured by the crowd at the  Festival of Fools, she does save him but he was already interested in her, but I guess maybe that sealed his “love for her”.  The Disney Quasimodo’s love is more manifested as a school boy crush than a deep connection and I don’t believe he would crawl into vault and to die next to her rather than live without her.

 

 

Quasimodo's figurines Esmeralda from "Heaven's Light"  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo’s figurines from “Heaven’s Light”

Quasimodo declares Sanctuary for Esmeralda  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo declares Sanctuary for Esmeralda

It’s sweet that he believes that she could love him whereas in the book Quasimodo doesn’t believe it, even if he wishes he could. Quasimodo is mostly depicted as kind and gentle.  He gets depressed but it never lasts too long. He’s also loyal which I think is the biggest similarity to Hugo’s original character.

 

Frollo and Quasimdo   Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Frollo and Quasimodo

Quasimodo is a dynamic character. He changes though the course of the movie, mainly in his attitude towards Frollo. At beginning he is nervous around Frollo even though he believes Frollo to be his defender. His nervousness around Frollo stems from Frollo’s abuse towards him. Frollo calls him ugly repeatedly and a  monster. When Frollo comes to visits him, Frollo gets a silver goblet and plate while Quasimodo get a wooden goblet and plate. Frollo keeps him locked up in bell tower of Notre Dame while Frollo dwells elsewhere, you’d think the Palace of Justice would be a better place to lock one up forever, it being a jail instead a public building. I would like to point out in the book,

Frollo and Quaismodo  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Frollo and Quaismodo

Frollo keeping Quasimodo at Notre Dame made sense as Frollo himself lived in the cloister as he was a priest, Quasimodo didn’t move to the Bell Tower till he was 14 years old. He moved there to be the bell-ringer because he loved the bells, not as punishment for his deformity or as method for absolution for Frollo. Quasimodo calls Frollo master but Frollo insists that he raised Quasimodo as his son. Quasimodo would probably be fairly well adjusted if it wasn’t for Frollo.  Quasimodo then disobeys Frollo and goes to the Festival of Fools to fulfill his dream.  He continues to disobey Frollo as he gains real human interacts with Esmeralda and Phoebus.  At the end he stands up against Frollo and learns that people like Frollo are the cause for all the hate in world and once Frollo is dead he is finally accepted by the people.

Quasimodo accepted by the people   Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo accepted by the people

Despite being in the Disney mold of hero/dreamer, Quasimodo is good character, he appeals the outsider in all of us. The film is good achiving  it’s overall theme though Quasimodo despite being thrust upon the audience, but at least he is likable and grows as character.

Next time we’ll look at Frollo.

Judge Claude Frollo  Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Judge Claude Frollo

 

Today is Quasimodo Sunday ( Low Sunday… First Sunday after Easter)

So since Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame is character driven let’s look at the main characters.

Quasimodo Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Quasimodo

First let’s start with the titular character Quasimodo (Tom Hulce). Quasimodo is depicted as caring, gentle, kind, shy and dreaming of something beyond his sheltered life (classic Disney Princess erm hero). At first all he wants is to spend one day among the people of Paris and sings about it ala Part of that World type song. When someone shows him kindness he answerx with loyalty. He does has a bit of an emo-side. Later in the film he hopes for love but that doesn’t come to fruition but he is happy that Phoebus and Esmeralda have each other and that is enough for him at the end of the film.

 

Judge Claude Frollo Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Judge Claude Frollo

The next important character is Frollo (Tony Jay). Frollo is a hypocritical judge who HATES gypsies, He regards them as the reason why Paris is going to hell in hand-basket. He sees no harm in killing people especially ugly babies if he views in the best interest of “justice”. He also has a pious streak, which he quite proud of.  During the course of the movie he develops an unhealthy obsession with Esmeralda where he uses tons of public funds to barrack her in Notre Dame and when she escapes he set Paris ablaze and then blames it other people because hey he just doing his job (it’s a good thing King Louis IX is not a main character or somebody would have been fired).

 

Esmeralda Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Esmeralda

Djali Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Djali

Esmeralda (Demi Moore), the beautiful Gypsy dancer, who is often referred to as girl but she comes off as older than Quasimodo who is 20. She is kind and has a fierce sense of justice and loyalty. She knows a wide assortment of parlor tricks that she can use in a pinch. She also can read palms though she is is a dancer by trade. Esmeralda is always accompanied by her pet Goat Djali. Djali turn offs include heights, ugly faces and hangings. Turn ons include dancing, money, and eating wood cravings.

 

 

Phoebus and Achilles Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Phoebus and Achilles

Phoebus (Kevin Kline), another attractive character, Phoebus has been called back from the wars by Frollo to protect Paris from the Gypsies; an assignment he takes with major annoyance and a grain of salt. He has a dry wit and is a flirt but he also has a high sense of morality and won’t kill people just because crazy old Frollo says so. He also has a horse named Achilles who enjoys heeling and sitting on people he doesn’t care for.

 

Clopin Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Clopin

Clopin (Paul Kandal) , the leader of the Court of Miracle and the story teller. He is an extrovert who loves to have a good time whether it’s entertaining small children, all of Paris at the festival of fools  or hanging trespassers. Where Clopin is the party is.

 

Hugo Laverne, Victor Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Hugo Laverne, Victor

Gargoyles, the comic relief characters Victor (Charles Kimbrough), Hugo (Jason Alexander) and Laverne (Mary Wickes/Jane Withers). The three only come to life for Quasimodo and once for Djali. They have their distinctive personality, Victor is prim and calm, Hugo is loud and fun loving, and Laverne is old and tells it like it is. There loyal to their pal Quasimodo and to encourage him to follow his heart. But they’re annoying as all hell.

 

Archdeacon Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Archdeacon

Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers), the kind, caring, gentle, wise Archdeacon of Notre Dame. As Archdeacon he has some authority over Frollo and Frollo while not happy is at least compliant. He the one who guilts or rather scares into taking care of Quasimodo.

 

Next Time more on the more characters of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

Quasimodo’s Reveal Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

The plot of the Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame is a water-down and condense version of Hugo’s novel and the 1939 version. Because the film is for children the film couldn’t follow it 100% or even 75% so watering it down  is understandable. To the film’s credit it did opt for a darker tone than most Disney movies especially where Frollo is concerned. And for the record there are worse children adaptions and as it stands, it is the best among the Hunchback for kids movies.

 

Victor, Hugo and Laverne singing A Guy like you Disney Hunchback of Notre dame

Victor, Hugo and Laverne singing A Guy like you Disney Hunchback of Notre dame

So the plot is stripe down to it barest essentials with a lens on Quasimodo and add-ons from the 1939 version. They added a moral,  eliminated some characters (Gringoire, Jehan, Louis, Sister Gudule (who is hardly ever mention in the adaptations) and added some characters (The gargoyles).

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame Dancing

The basic plot is really about a cute girl and the guys that  “love” her and where these men take that love  into their psyches. That’s Hugo’s book at it’s most basic level, the problem is that since this book  was published in English the focus has been take off Esmeralda (Notre Dame de Paris) and went to Quasimodo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). And to make it worse, two of the most famous “Hunchback” movies from the golden age of cinema, were vehicles for leading man playing Quasimodo. So the movies really do think that Quasimodo has to be the focus of the film and Disney really bought into this mentally (listen to DVD commentary).

 

Frollo and Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

Frollo and Qausimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

So the Disney plot lies in the moral that Quasimodo inspires, sure he ugly as all hell but he’s beautiful on the inside, and that’s what the plot is trying to teach, don’t judge people. A corrupt, yet pious Judge can still be a an evil jerk. Of course, this moral is as subtle as a ton bricks and the scenes can never shift away from Quasimodo for too long unless it’s a counterpoint to how great he is, and that would be how terrible Frollo is. So Frollo can gets just as many songs and srceen time as Quasimodo. This is why you’ll only see one scene without either Frollo or Quasimodo, which is Phoebus and Esmeralda’s introduction, you could count their time in Notre Dame but Frollo is technically in that scene and since there no cut in locations Quasimodo is there too . That scene of Esmeralda in Notre Dame speaking with Phoebus, getting grope by Frollo, and singing God help the Outcast ends with her following Quasimodo to the bell tower, so it doesn’t really count. So there is only one scene without Quasimodo or Frollo. The plot lives and dies on Frollo and Quasimodo and so the film’s moral is ALSO being referenced during the film’s duration. Even the songs act a method to reference the moral. All of Quasimodo and Frollo’s song are linked by this man vs monster prespective.  Clopin is the only character who gets some songs with any levity.

Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Phoebus, Quasimodo, Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus, Quasimodo, Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how was the plot of Disney’s Hunchback? Despite the film’s tunnel view of not giving a character that isn’t Quasimodo or Frollo 5 minutes of screen time. the film’s plot does well. It keeps the overall feeling of the story and makes it kid friendly and that was Disney’s angle and yet gives it a darker edge which help roots the film in Hugo’s book. But the book and the Disney’s version are character driven and not as plot driven so next time let look at the Disney version of Hugo’s characters.

 

Next time – a brief look at the Characters of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame 

 

Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Disney version starts off with Clopin (Paul Kandel) regaling small children with the tale of the mysterious bell ringer and how he came the position.  Though a song (The Bells of Notre Dame) and a flashback Clopin tells of a group of Gypsies entering Paris via the Seine, the notable Gypsy is a women with a child. After docking the Gypsies are caught by Judge Claude Frollo (Tony Jay). Frollo doesn’t care much for gypsies and orders their arrest but when he tries to take the baby from the women (he thinks it stolen goods) she runs toward Notre Dame. After the chase Frollo kills the women on the steps of Notre Dame and Frollo tries to drown the child who is deformed. Before Frollo can do it he’s stop by the Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers) who guilts Frollo into taking care of child but Frollo  demands that the child must live in the bell-tower. Clopin then asks us to consider what the bells supposedly say “who is the monster and who is the man”

Frollo and Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney picture image

Frollo and Quasimodo

After a lovely crescendo and the title screen featuring those crazy bells we’re introduced to Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) who is urging a baby bird to fly away as no one wants to be cooped up in Notre Dame forever. After the bird flies away Quasimodo’s gargoyles friends come to life. Victor (Charles Kimbrough), Hugo (Jason Alexander), and Laverne (Mary Wickes(and Jane Withers)). The three urge Quasimodo to go the Festival of Fools but Quasimodo says he forbidden to ever leave the cathedral by his master Frollo. After some a little encouragement he decides to go but Frollo shows up and tries to persuades him out of ever leaving because of his ugliness he’ll only meet with hate. Frollo does with via song (Out There). After Frollo is done singing and leaves Quasimodo takes over the song (Out There), and sings about  a desire to have one day out among normal people.

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame dancing

The scene switches to Phoebus (Kevin Klein), Captain of the Guard, returning to Paris. He catches the eye of pretty Gypsy girl, Esmeralda (Demi Moore), dancing  for coins. After some other guards show up and accosted Esmeralda for stealing, Phoebus aids in her escape. Phoebus then makes the trouble-making, underling guards  guide him to  the Palace of Justice. He meets Frollo who explains that Paris must be rid of the Gypsies as they weaken the moral of the otherwise good Parisian and then they head out to the Festival of Fools.

 

Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney picture image

Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Festival begins as a clocked Quasimodo swing down from Notre Dame and gets caught up in the festivity of the party as Clopin serves as the master of ceremonies  by singing Topsy Turvy . While Quasimodo is getting thrown about he crashes into a tent where Esmeralda is changing. She asks Quasimodo if he is injured and compliments his mask, Quasimodo is instantly smitten with her. Frollo, Phoebus, and guards arrive on the scene and Esmerlada dances  for crowd and gets the attention of Quasimodo, Frollo and Phoebus. After that the King of Fools contest starts, as the ugly masses came on to the stage, Esmeralda pulls Quasimodo up on stage. Once it is reveal that Quasimodo “mask” is really his face he is crowned king of fools, much to Frollo’s disapproval.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda defying Frollo by helping Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

After the song ends, the underling guards, throws a tomato at Quasimodo causing the crowd to pelt him with foodstuff and tie him down to the pillory. Phoebus wants to intervene but Frollo insists Quasimodo is learning a lesson. The barrage of food ceases when Esmeralda ascends the pillory, and apologizes to Quasimodo. Frollo orders her down and not to help. After a quip about justice and mistreat of people (especially her people) she free Quasimodo. Frollo orders her arrest and a merry chase ensues.

 

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame with Esmeralda Disney picture image

Frollo gropes Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

After Esmerlada gives everyone the sip, Quasimodo apologizes to Frollo and returns to Notre dame. Phoebus sees an old man wander into Notre Dame and follows. The old man is Esmerlada who has chosen Notre Dame as hiding place. She senses a presence behind her (Phoebus) and she engages him in combat. As she fights, he flirts, which after a bit works but Frollo interferes demanding her arrest. Phoebus claims she claim sanctuary and he can’t do anything. Frollo demand that she be dragged out side but the good-old Archdeacon commands that Frollo can’t do anything. As Phoebus and the other guards leave, Frollo hides and grabs Esmeralda from the back and says he’ll wait for her to leave and then continues to grope her. He leaves and Esmeralda learns that guards are position all around the cathedral. Esmeralda sings a prayer for not just her people but for all outcast (Good help the Outcast {sung by Heidi Mollenhauer). As she sings Quasimodo hears it and follow it. When the song ends Quasimodo is told off and flee back up to the bell tower, as he flees Esmeralda pursues.

 

Frollo Hunchback of Notre Dame Hellfire Disney picture image

Frollo singing Hellfore Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

The two becomes friends and learn more about each and how Frollo can be wrong about people. Quasimodo then decide to help Esmeralda escape but climbing down the building. Esmeralda ask Quasimodo to comes with her to The Court of Miracles (the Gypsy haven), but he refuses and she gives him a woven band to help if he needs sanctuary. Quasimodo returns to the tower and his gargoyle tease him about having a girlfriend. He sings a song about his feelings for Esmeralda and hope for love (Heaven’s light). Meanwhile, Frollo is also singing about his lust and obsession for Esmeralda (Hellfire). During the course of the song he learns that Esmeralda has escaped.

 

Disney Phoebus Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image hit by arrow

Phoebus being hit by an arrow Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

The next day,  Frollo has order the capture of Esmeralda. He uses force, bribes, and attempted manslaughter. Frollo tries to kill an entire family for harboring Gypsies, he orders Phoebus to burn the house where the family is trap but Phoebus refuses and sentence to death, but a disguised Esmeralda intervenes via rock. Phoebus gets away but is shoot by an arrow and falls into river. Esmeralda saves him.

 

 

Phoebus and Esmeralda Kiss Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus and Esmeralda Kiss Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Meanwhile, Frollo has set Paris ablaze. Quasimodo is worried about Esmeralda’s safety  but the Gargoyle assure him that she’s fine and she’ll return to Quasimodo and convinces him that she is in love with (A Guy like you). The song ends with Esmeralda entering the tower and asks Quasimodo to hide Phoebus. As Esmeralda tends to Phoebus‘ wound it became clear that she not into Quasimodo in the romantic sense. Quasimodo hears Frollo coming and Quasimodo tries to cover. Frollo reveals that he knows where the Court of Miracles is and is going to attack. Quasimodo and Phoebus set out to warn the Gypsies. Quasimodo relies that the woven band is a map and they find the Court of Miracles. The pair is ambush by Clopin (Court of Miracles), since the Court of Miracles doesn’t like uninvited guest they going to hang them, but Esmeralda stops them. Phoebus warns them about the attack but Frollo followed them and arrest everyone.

 

Quasimodo declares Sanctuary for Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney picture image

Quasimodo declares Sanctuary for Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre

As Frollo prepare to execute Esmeralda, he asks her to chose him or the fire, she choses the later and the pyre is set aflame.  Quasimodo then swings down from Notre Dame frees Esmeralda swing back up and yells sanctuary. Frollo the attacks Notre Dame and Quasimodo defends. Everyone get in on the battle, Phoebus, Clopin, the gargoyles, random extra and birds. Quasimodo uses molten lead but Frollo sneaks in.

 

 

Esmeralda, Phoebus, and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo accepts Esmeralda and Phoebus as a couple Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo tells Esmeralda to come see his victory but it seems like she dies of asphyxiation. Quasimodo cries as Frollo slips into the room and tries to kill him but Quasimodo fights back and Esmeralda regains consciences, and Frollo goes on murderous offense. After a bit of fight Frollo is about to win as Esmeralda clings to Quasimodo who is dangling over the edge of Notre Dame but Frollo support gives out and he falls to his death. Esmerlada strength gives out and Quasimodo falls but he caught by Phoebus. Quasimodo then gives the couple his blessing. Esmeralda and Phoebus emerge from the cathedral and are met with cheers. Esmeralda offers Quasimodo her hand and leads him outside where he is finally  accepted by the people. Clopin reprise “The Bells of Notre Dame” and asks us “what makes a monster and what makes a man”.

Next time – A Plot Review of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

So I’ve looked at the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame from many different angles, and my overall consensus is despite all it’s imperfection it’s still a great adaptation. It captures the tone book and despite it’s departures from the book at least it has respect for the source and doesn’t try to hit the audience over the head with a moral. The film is solid and despite my nitpicking is well done and stands as one the best Hunchback films made to date. Click here to get your very own copy of this Classic Hunchback Adaptation

Quasimodo Cheers Charles Laughton Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 picture image

Quasimodo Cheers Charles Laughton Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939

 

Now a funny story about an episode during filming; William Dieterle had a thick german accent and one time instead of ordering 200 monks for a scene, 200 monkeys were sent and took over the set, and you can imagine the mess and chaos of 200 monkeys. Makes me wonder what Dieterle asked for and  cats for the office scene.

New Movie next time – Another heavy hitter in the Hunchback world, a film that took cues from the 39 version and not only is it more popular but most  people associate Hunchback with this film, That’s right Disney’s 1996 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney 1996 picture image

Disney The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In no particular order The Novel vs the 1939 Version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame

SPOILERS

Aristotle the Goat 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Aristotle the Miracle Goat 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Goat – Djali is not in every adaptations, so having a goat named Aristotle to fill in for Djali is not a big deal. But here the thing, Djali is a double for Esmeralda and they have a sisterly bond with each other  but Aristotle seems more Gringoire’s goat than Esmeralda’s (the name Aristotle point more to Gringoire’s taste than Esmeralda’s). Also he comes into film out of no nowhere and exits just as quickly, the audience gets no closure on what become of Aristotle.

 

 

Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda Doesn’t Die – It’s rare that Esmerlada actually kicks the bucket in the adaptations and if she does in fact live it’s because she’s paired up with a male, either Gringoire, Phoebus, or on rare occasions Quasimodo. If Esmerlada does die it’s beause like in the Book she leaves Notre Dame, if she stay put she lives, of course there are exceptions to this rule (albet not many) but this is typical order in Notre Dame adaptations. In the 1939 version she paired up with Gringoire.

 

 

Frollo is a crazy cat "lady" Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo, the a crazy cat “lady?” Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo Loves Cats – This bit confounds me. Frollo’s office is full of cats. I have no clue where this comes from. In the book he has a “lab’ of sorts because he practices alchemy but it not full of cats. I’ve tried thinking of reasons why these couple seconds of film exist and here they are

 

 

 

 

  1. He trying to cover for his lie he told Esmeralda about that liking animals.
  2. He actually does like animals and this could the reason why he adopted Quasimodo in the first place.
  3. To show untrustworthy/evilness, cats are often used to illustrates with bad guys. But it’s not that necessary to show this, Frollo is a bigoted pervert, I think the audience got he was bad with out the visual aid of cats.
  4. To Show he’s Crazy.

There is no reason why his office should be fill of cats but it is and it not a accident, a movie just doesn’t fill up the sets with cats, there must be a reason or some inside joke.

 

Phoebus (Alan Marshal) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus (Alan Marshal) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus Dies – Most of the time like in the book Phoebus is not killed and no one really cares about that bit of information in the course of the trial but sometimes the accusation is enough. However in the 39 version he does dies and you the viewer are not suppose to care. It’s rare for Phoebus to die but this not the only adaptation where Phoebus dies.

 

 

 

The Esmeralda and Gringoire at the end (Maureen O'Hara, Edmond O'Brien) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

The Esmeralda and Gringoire, Maureen O’Hara, Edmond O’Brien 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda and Gringoire are in Love – Esmeralda and Gringoire develop a romantic interrest in each other. In the book they were “friends” Esmeralda like him enough but didn’t think much of him and he preferred Djali. He preferred Djali more that he saved Djali over Esmeralda leaving her in the hands of an insane Frollo while she is being hunted by guards.

 

 

 

Bell Charles Laughton  Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Bells of Notre Dame Charles Laughton Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo has  a Boy Bell – Kind of on the same lines as Frollo’s cats, it’s just a weird little add in. Quasimodo bell’s in book were ladies but in the 1939 version he has one boy bell “Guillaume” (French for William.) Consider that Quasimodo uses the bell in lieu of ladies, I guess this male bell is when Quasimodo is feeling curious.

(Edit 2104, there is a bell named Guillaume in the novel)

 

 

 

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

Jehan Frollo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Gringoire (Edmond O'Brien) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire, Edmond O’Brien 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Frollo and Gringoire– In the book Frollo was Gringoire’s teacher, here they don’t even know each.

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda looking at the Virgin Mary, Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmerlda loves Notre Dame – In the 1939 version Esmeralda really seems to be a fan of the Virgin and here (to my knowledge) is the fist time she prays to her for her people    (it started the trend). In the book she prays to Mary because she is afraid and being in Notre Dame she simply pray to the closet deity but that’s at the end of the book.

 

 

 

 

Bells 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Bells 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

No Whistle – In the book Quasimodo gives Esmeralda a whistle just in case she ever needs him but in this film he tells her to just ring the bells. In both cases she take him up on his aid, but most adaptations go for the bells over the whistle, one less prop to deal with.

 

 

 

Frollo confesses his feelings to Esmeralda Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo confesses his feelings to Esmeralda, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

No Jail Scene -Ah, the jail scene, one my favorites, I tend to judge the adapations base off of this scene, well I wish I could because a lot the adaptations don’t have this scene or it’s very water down. The jail scene is when Frollo goes to Esmeralda whose in jail and confesses his confusion and torment for her. It’s a very long scene as Frollo gives a detail  explanation of what his desire did to him and his actions as a result. In the 1939 movie the party scene or what I refer to as the “Tree Scene” fills in for the jail scene. Frollo corners Esmeralda against a tree and tells her that he basically confused, thinks about her all the time and can’t sleep. He doesn’t want people to see her dance and then threatens her. Doesn’t have the same impact as the book but at least it’s something.

 

Trial by ordeal (chance) Esmeralda and Louis Maureen O'Hara, Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Trial by ordeal (chance) Esmeralda and Louis, Maureen O’Hara, Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Interruptions during the Trial Scene – The trial puts me over the edge, there’re too many things that happen in the course of it.  Quasimodo admits that he is the murder. I get why he does it; to show his love for her. But it a happens and goes way and is never mention again, seems to be a trend in this film. Then there is the Trial by Ordeal, for me this is even more off putting than Quasimodo’s interruption. The film loves Louis and uses any excuse to give him screen time. I get why he’s doing it; the Archdeacon asked him to but The Trail of Ordeal is more by chance, she blindfolded and must touch a dagger  hers ( the guilty one ) or Louis’ (the innocent one), not much of ordeal and again it doesn’t amount to anything but at least its mention again by Louis so it doesn’t add anything other than Louis.

 

Gringoire's Appeal for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire’s Appeal for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The permits, petitions, & Nobles – At the beginning of the the 1939, we learn that Gypsies need a permit to live in Paris, Esmerlada doesn’t have said permit hence she seeks sanctuary towards the beginning of the film. In the book nobels are not a big deal and there are no petitions. In the 1939 version the Nobel are pissed that Esmeralda didn’t die because she killed “one of them’ so they make a petition to end sanctuary and also Gringoire makes an appeal to the king to free Esmeralda. In the book the whole sanctuary debacle is due to a rumor that Frollo made-up to get Esmeralda out of the cathedral and in his power, but the rumor went too far (ie the Court of Miracle attacks Notre Dame to save her and the Louis thinks it to an attack on him and orders for Esmeralda’s death, otherwise he wouldn’t have cared.)

 

Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) alone at the end 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo alone at the end, Charles Laughton, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Qusimodo alive at  the end – Sometimes Quasimodo lives, sometimes he dies, and sometimes it’s implied that he dies. If he lives it can be sad because most of the time (two exceptions) he watches Esmeralda go off with another man, if he dies it can mean that in death he gets to be with Esmeralda like in the book, or if he dies then he dies and it’s sad. Quasimodo seldom gets a happy ending. In the 1939 not only does he live but he watches Esmeralda leave with Gringoire and he left alone to lament that he isn’t made of stone. Defiantly one of the more tragic endings for Quasimodo

 

Frollo stares at Esmeralda's chest for 15 seconds (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo stares at Esmeralda’s chest for 15 seconds, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo rounding up the Gypsy girls – So being a High Juctice, the 1939 version shows Frollo doing Justice-related  tasks; going to meetings and being a judge. The film also shows him exercising some of his power, he rounds up all the Gypsy girls in order to find Esmeralda. This scene is meant to show his obsession for finding her. In the book he didn’t have the power to arrest people, he just stalks her old school style.

 

 

 

Extra's hair 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Noble Ladies 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Nobles vs Beggars – The film mentions the clash between beggars and nobles and that the noble are just thieves that plunder countries while beggars engage in petty crimes. This clash is no where in the book and really is just in this one adapations. So basically the movie hates nobles.

 

 

 

Next time conclusions+

So how does the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” hold up against Victor Hugo’s novel? Well first let’s identify some MAJOR differences.

Jehan Frollo 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame Sir Cedric Hardwicke picture image

Jehan Frollo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame Sir Cedric Hardwicke

The First difference is Frollo. Hugo’s Frollo has been spilt into two characters. This was not the first film and certainly not the last film to do this, but to my knowledge  it was the first to make him a High Justice and the last to separate him between brothers. If you haven’t read the book, Frollo has a younger brother name Jehan. Jehan is quite licentious while Claude, the older Archdeacon, is the lusty priest. So splitting the Frollo character into brothers isn’t a stretch. The reason why Frollo is spilt into the  pious brother and lusty bad younger brother is the same reason why Quasimodo is crowned the “King of Fools” and not the “Pope of Fools”; The Hays Movie Code. The Movie Code (Censorship)  that was in affect back in the 30s didn’t allow the church to look bad in any fashion (among other things).  I give the film some credit, it tries to remind the viewer that Frollo should be a priest, or at least he wants to be a priest.

ESMERALDA: Who are you? You’re not a priest, and yet you look like one.                          FROLLO: I am what I wish to be.

Esmeralda and Frollo (Maureen O'Hara and Sir Cedric Hardwicke) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Frollo, Maureen O'Hara and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Though him being a priest wanna-be doesn’t make me believe in his torment of “wanting” Esmeralda. Fortunately he doesn’t seem to combat his emotions, he goes from “I want you” to “you must die” in record time and doesn’t think twice. Whereas Hugo’s Frollo runs the gambit of emotions for Esmeralda. Plus it’s not important that he is in deep torment because the film is not really concerned with Frollo, Frollo is a necessary character because he is the catalyst for the story. Without Frollo, the book would have ended with Feast of Fools, the adaptations need him as a character but the lengths of his development are left to film. The ‘39’ Frollo gets some development but not enough. Instead characters that are lesser in significance get push to the forefront due to the next major difference of the movie.

 

Printing Press 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Printing Press 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The next big difference is modernity and the conflict between old vs new. The book did  have a rather long chapter/essay called “This will Destroy that”(translations may vary) which was about how books will destroy the church and architecture. So instead of the cathedral being the conduit to teach the masses the stories and the history of the christendom, books would take over that role. But the film pushes this way too far and distracts from the main plot, hell the film opens with a scene that rehashes “This will destroy that” just with a positive spin.  Also because the film takes a modernity good-old fashion bad,  Gringoire, Clopin, and King Louis are made into more prominent characters despite being lesser characters in book especially Louis, whose hardly a character at all.

Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame

But these are not the only character that are tweaked. Esmeralda is very different than in the book. In the book she is a naive, innocent, flighty, and pone to giving into whims. She also had a very different back story, a back story that seldom gets into adaptations. The only part of her backstory that can be compared to the book is that she came to Paris on the  Feast of Fools in the movie, and in the book she had been in Paris a for over a year and was beloved amongst the people of Paris. In the movie, her motivation is for her people and she has a strong sense of empathy instead of love of dancing. It is interesting to note that when Esmeralda has these characteristic, Frollo is a High Justice who seems to hold more power than the king (in the 39 movie, he rounds up all the Gypsy girls in the Court of Miracles and the Disney he burns all of Paris). I suppose the caring, empathic Esmeralda is a counterpoint to the   powerful, racist Frollo, but it’s a striking difference to her character in the book where  she is a naive, simple, winsome child, who is unaware of her own charms. The 1939 characterization of Esmeralda she isn’t naive and she does at least in the 39 version, use  girlish charms to get Louis to help her. She’s not above turning on the charms to get what she wants but doesn’t do it with Frollo, perhaps she didn’t know Frollo was in a position that could have help her. At least in the book she was afraid of him, hence she didn’t want to have anything to with him. In the 1939 version she doesn’t seem to exhibit any strong feelings towards, she neither likes him nor hates him, but she strikes an accord with him about animals. So I guess she could have turned up the feminine charms towards Frollo had he not been a bigoted pervert.  The main reason why Esmeralda is never depicted as she is in the book, is she would come off unlikable, (a shallow, simple, young girl) so the film always has to tweak her character to make her likable. If she cozen up to Frollo, the villain, she wouldn’t have been as likable and has the only main female character, she has to likable.

more book vs movie next time

So let’s talk about Lighting. Besides the functional side of lighting (i.e. lighting the sets so you can see the sets and actors) there is mood lighting and this is what I’m going to touch on because it’s more fun.

For the most part the movie is pretty tame in the lighting department despite William Dieterle being  part the of German Expressionism movement but  there is great example of chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro  (Italian for light and dark) utilizes  the contrast between light and dark  for  pure dramatic effect.  During the scene where Frollo confesses his confused love/lust for Esmeralda. As he pins her against a tree his face is fully illuminated while the back ground is let darker; text-book Chiaroscuro.

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

Example of Chiaroscuro

Example of Soft Lighting Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Example of Soft Lighting

Example of Hard Lighting Frollo Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Example of Hard Lighting

Moodiness Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Moodiness

 

Clopin King of Beggars Thomas Mitchell 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Example Bottom Lighting

 

There is a moodiness to certain scenes and sometimes characters would get   lighting treatment (i.e softening, harding, bottom lighting or chiaroscuro)  but I would say that at the time of the film’s release the lighting came off more dramatic. After all Dieterle was part of the German Expressionism movement which was the predecessor to Film Noire ( which by it’s very nature is moody) so there is mood but for a modern viewer the dramatic isn’t as striking except in the confession scene, that was a slap in the face with lighting.

See ya next time – It’s time for Book vs the 1939 version 

 

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was filmed on location, I know that’s what I thought at first but that is not the case.

This film was  shot completely on set at the RKO ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The sets were designed after a 400 year old wood carving of Paris.  The sets are one of the strongest visual aspects of this movie. They transport the viewer to 15th century Paris, with the narrow streets, Notre Dame in all its’ glory, with its’ accurate nave and it’s raised platform complete with stairs, Both the raised platform and the stairs are no longer a part of the actual Notre Dame due to time and erosion. Erosion and structural changes to Notre Dame are some of the reasons why films shouldn’t take too much lead from Notre dame in it’s modern state if their doing a period piece (I’m looking at you here Disney).

Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Notre Dame

Front Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Front of Notre Dame

Facade of Notre Dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Facade of Notre Dame

Nave of Notre dame 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Nave of Notre dame

15th century Parisian Street 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

15th century Parisian Street

Another view of 15th century Parisian Street 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Another view of 15th century Parisian Street

Crowd scene 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Crowd scene

 

 

All the attention to the details of the sets are one of the strongest aspects of the film and this helps  keep the film in  classic movie nostalgia.

Next time: Lighting!

 

So next up is staging, where things, mainly actors, are position in scenes of a movie. As I was looking at the costumes I noticed something, a lot of the shots are medium or close up unless it was a big epic scene or an establishing shot . This makes it hard to get pictures of costumes but it also makes staging difficult to review. Another factor that makes staging reviewing difficult is that the editing cuts between shots are very frequent, though the cuts are not insane or abnormal. Also other than establishing shot you don’t get a feel for the spaces the characters occupy, not even Notre Dame.

 

Watching the Play 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Watching the Play

Gringoire's Play 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Gringoire's Play

So it’s hard to gauge the characters’ movement in the film space. For the most part I say that the characters use the spaces logically  but it’s hard to gauge where the characters are in relation to each other in the space in a given scene. A good example of this is during the Feast of Fools. First you see Louis and Frollo sitting in the royal box watching the festivities. From their vantage point they can see Gringoire’s play. The beggars start to complain  that they’re not get money because of the play.

Beggar in long shot 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Beggar in long shot

Beggar and Clopin Medium shot 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Beggar and Clopin Medium shot

 

 

(Edit Alert; in the longer shot as Clopin walk up you can’t see the stage but when the scene cuts to a medium shot of Clopin and the beggar the stage can be seen).


Clopin puts an end to Gringoire’s play and then on the same stage the King of Fools contest begins. As the contest starts we Louis and Frollo talk about it how ugliness is fascinating and how the noble seem interested.

 

Extras 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iame

Extras watching the King of Fool contest

Phoebus in armor (on left) Alan Marshal 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iamge

Phoebus (left) watches Esmeralda

The scene cuts to nobles looking at the stage, it is in this line up of nobles that Phoebus is seen making a comments about Esmeralda who is dancing.

 

 

 

Esmeralda spots an eyes staring Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda spots an eyes staring

The crowd drags Quasimodo to the stage  1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

The crowd drags Quasimodo to the stage

As she dances it’s hard to make out where the stage is but it seems to be to left.  Louis and Frollo in their box are watching her and looking slightly to the right, as well as Gringoire. Louis and Frollo have to be somewhat close to her as Louis throws her some money without much effort and Quasimodo is hiding under the royal box  and Esmeralda can see him staring at her. The crowd then drags Quasimodo to stage which looks like a long distance from the box.

The distance could be attributive to Quasimodo trying to escape the crowd or it’s because the Director William Dieterle was a student of German Expressionism which likes twisting scales and playing distortions. It any case this scene it has some logic but you can’t get a feel for the space. Where is the royal box? How far is it from the stage? Where is Esmeralda performance in relation to the stage and the royal box? These are questions that the film never quite answers because it’s to hard to decern the space, the movement and spacial relation

Next time  Sets!