Esmeralda from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image
Esmeralda from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame

I have been obsessed lately with Jenny Nicholson’s video on Pandora- The World of Avatar at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Also she drops a Hunchback reference, so if you haven’t seen that video, go see it. I have seen it multiple times and it’s and it’s like an hour long and I have no attention span.

In Jenny’s video she talks about the history of Animal Kingdom and how there was supposed to a medieval fantasy section called Beastly Kingdom as the concept of the park was explore animals of the present, past and myth but they ran out of money and went for the Dinosaur part. Long story short, after Disney lost out on Harry Potter to Universal, the management of Disney went for another cultural significant movie franchise experience that was insanely immersive, so they went with Avatar, not the Airbender one, the Dances with Wolves in space.

Unlike Harry Potter or Star Wars, the buzz and staying power of Avatar haven’t held up over time so it’s odd that Disney just went for this concept but the land looks really cool and does speak to the fantasy element and conservation angle. But it also of speaks to Disney’s influencing power. It maybe a generalization but kids haven’t seen the movie, it was rated PG-13, came out nearly a decade ago and is really only good in an imax setting but Disney went for it and kids can now adopt Banshee puppets for $65 dollars a pop, $90 if you include the perch. FYI I think the Banshee puppets are cute.

It really fascinates me that Disney pushed so hard on this project and yet a lot of their own properties get ignored within the parks, like Hunchback. So I have been on a slight deep drive into Disney parks, learning what I can about them, mostly via Youtube videos since I have no plans as right now to go to any of the parks.

First let’s talk about the Characters, the Face characters, though I guess Frollo and Quasimodo are not technically Face Characters but all I mean is characters that you meet. The Question is can you even see/meet/greet any of Hunchback Characters at any of the Disney parks worldwide?

According to  Fill my Passport, you can but not a Disney Land or Disney World. This information is a bit old as it’s from 2017.

According to Fill my Passport Quasimodo makes extremely  rare appearance at Disneyland Paris. Esmeralda can often see at Tokyo Disney and once in a while at Disneyland Paris. Frollo can be see at Halloween at Tokyo Disney. He used at appear at Disney USA parks during Halloween but not so much now. Clopin can be see at Disneyland Paris. And Phoebus doesn’t show up anymore. Fill my Passport as talks about other rare Disney characters in the Disney park so do check out that blog.

However videos from a year ago show a rare meet and greet with Esmeralda and Clopin. It seemed to have occurred at DVC Moonlight Magic Special Event during after hours in the Magic Kingdom, in early 2018.


Here is a meet and greet with Phoebus from 3 years ago at the France pavilion at Epcot.

Hunchback characters meet and greets seem to be extremely rare these days so if you see a hunchback character walking around try to see them, if you like that experience.

Tadashi Shoji Marquis Evening Gown picture image

Tadashi Shoji Marquis Evening Gown

 

This gown is by Tadashi Shoji. It resemble Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris costume in both the green color and lacy texture but the tiers are akin to Disney’s Esmeralda. But also the tiers have flamenco vibe which works Esmeralda’s personality in most any version.

You can buy this gown on Tadashi Shoji’s website,

(The Hunchblog is not affiliated with Tadashi Shoji in anyway, nor sponsored in anyway)  

Vamp Vampire Esmeralda Halloween 2018 picture image

Vamp Esmeralda

Happy Halloween.

This was made using Azalea Dolls. Haven’t done one these posts in while and tried to go for a “spooky” Vampire Esmeralda.

Awhile ago I did an Anti-Hypothetical Casting Post for Kim Kardashian and while she best worst choice (as far as people involved in Keeping up with the Kardashian go), Kylie and Kendall seem more topical and in the right age range to play Esmeralda.

Kendall Jenner picture image

Kendall Jenner

 

I guess Kendall makes more sense than Kylie but honestly these two run together for me, I’m not sure which one is which. I thought of Kylie first since I tend to watch make-up/nail polish content of youtube but Kendall  seems to have more a filmography and she did that social justice Pepsi commercial. So let’s just consider Kendall Jenner for this post.

 

Kendall Jenner in a Lil Dickie Music video picture image

Kendall Jenner in a Lil Dickie Music video

I can’t pretend that I know Kendall Jenner’s acting prowess but I’m going to assume it’s low to bad.  But she is a model who was on a reality show, has been in a bad music video singing about her vagina and a not self-aware soda commercial so she seems like she’ll do whatever for notoriety.

 

Kendall Jenner picture image

Kendall Jenner

Since she “sang” in that horrible music video and since she has that Social Justice Pepsi ad maybe she could play Esmeralda in a musical version. Maybe a Disney live action version. I mean Disney likes popular people in their movies. And for some reason  she is popular, I still don’t get it and I never will. Also Disney really doesn’t live Hunchback version much but wants to curtail to fans so maybe casting a reality show star turned model turned some form of celebrity is a good bet for them? You know, for money.

 

Kendall Jenner picture image

Kendall Jenner

She does have a good look for Esmeralda. So that is one thing working for her.

But would Kendall Jenner even want to play Esmeralda? I honestly don’t know enough about her to say but maybe. Though the Pepsi commercial did cause some pushback maybe she would want to double-down on it and want to play a beautiful, desirable, social justice warrior of a repressed people. Or at least just a character who is beautiful and desirable and in some versions and known as a social justice warrior, like Disney’s version. Activist by association!  

 

Kendall Jenner picture image

Kendall Jenner

This casting idea scares me. It’s just  bad. I wouldn’t want it in a so bad it’s good way. Kendall Jenner would be a bad choice.  I hate it!

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Isabelle Guerin as Esmeralda Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris

What can one really say about analyzing characters in a ballet? Yes, they have some traits of the characters from Hugo’s but nothing in depth. And that is okay.

With this version of Esmeralda we get that she is flirty at least when she dances and is generally kind.  She doesn’t have the innocence or superstitious streak that she has in the book but she does seem a bit shy about sleeping with Phoebus, so at least there is virginal quality of Esmeralda’s character is there in this ballet.

She doesn’t seem to fear Frollo as much until his attack on Phoebus. Unlike the book where she fears him very early on. In this ballet she does seem to be uncomfortable with his leering but it doesn’t seem like fear. This is not a big deal as many Esmeraldaa rarely fear Frollo from the onset.  

Esmeralda is sweet, kind, flirtatious and tragic in this version. So we have a baseline version of Esmeralda.  And for a ballet that is all she really needs to be.

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.   

The trend of 100 layers of stuff maybe over but I lost my mind, so here is 100 layers of Esmeralda.

100 layers Esmeralda picture image

100 layers Esmeralda


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

Warren Clarke as Quasimodo & Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

If you like the 1977 version, I understand. I get the appeal of it. As of now it is the most book accurate movie version that exists.  But being book accurate does not necessarily make for a good movie.

Accuracy to the source material can’t hide that this version is dull. From the sets, to the cinematography, to the depictions of the characters; everything is underwhelming.

Even when I first saw this movie is my early Hunchback obsession days, I thought this version was a Feast of Snores.

The good news is that I don’t think this version was out to be a seminal version. How could it be when they don’t even have even a model for Notre Dame?  Or any exterior sets. It was just a version made for TV with a limited budget. I don’t think the bar was terrible high on this version. They did the best they felt like with their resources and got out another version of Hunchback.    

Would I recommend you watch this? If you’re some weird Hunchback completionist, like I try to be, then yes but you might get bored like I do every single time I watch this version. And for the purposes of this review series that was a lot mostly because I forgot a lot of it even with repeat viewings.

Disclaimer: I know very little to nothing about Medieval Fashion and even less about the Romani people. Also this post only focuses on Esmeralda and Fleur de Lys’ costumes.

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

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

On first glance Esmeralda’s costume in this version sucks. It looks like something a Juliet would wear. It’s a pink overdress with a high waistline with a dark red and gold embroidered bodice. It’s layered over a chemise with bell sleeves and embroidered armbands. She wears bangles on both wrists and has pink ribbons in her hair. It also seems like she has another gold over layer around the bodice that has some streamer-like detail going done the skirt What is this costume?

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Well this could be one the worst contextually Esmeralda costumes or it could be one of the most accurate. Isn’t that a crazy thing to suggest?

Looking at art from the late 1400’s with Romani as the subject matter, they didn’t dress all that dissimilarly from White Europeans. They do seem to be wearing a cloth headdress which is exactly what we see in Caravaggio’s fortune teller painting and in Manfredi’s painting but not in Vouet’s fortune teller painting. What is in all these paintings that is in not in the earlier illustrations is the sari-like drape garment.  So it would seem, at least me, that the blanket sari-like wrap was a garment worn by the Romani in the late 1500’s and not in the 1400’s. Could be wrong but given the art available, it points to that notion.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Which bring us back to the 1977 version of Esmeralda and her Juliet-ish costume.  A pervasive thought is that Romani were given clothing for fortuning or what not, so Esmeralda COULD have been given this dress in exchange for pleasing some noble for her dancing. Makes a certain level of sense.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Comparing Esmeralda’s costume to Fleur de Lys’ costumes you may notice that Esmeralda’s dress has a different silhouette. Fleur’s costumes are more in keeping with the style of  noble women in the 1480’s. The color for Fleur and Esmeralda’s costumes were inspired by the 1956 version of Hunchback; a red tone for Esmeralda and blues for Fleur, someday we’re going to discuss the topic of Esmeralda wearing red again, because I have more to say on that subject.

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys

Since we’re on the topic, all Fleur’s  costumes are all very beautiful in this version. She gets the fur trim and the hennin which all things that were in style for a lady of her standing in the 1480’s.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Esmeralda’s costume looks a bit more like the style from the 1450’s which had a higher waist line but was that costume designer Dorothea Wallace’s intent? Was Wallace’s aim to emulate a style from the 1450’s suggesting that Esmeralda was gifted her dress? Or is there something else operating here? Something Groovy???

Dior pattern from 1977 picture image

Dior pattern from 1977

Like every single period movie ever, costume design is more of a  reflection of the time in which the movie is made rather than historical accuracy. It’s a truth! In the 1977 version while there is a historical silhouette that looks like Esmeralda’s movie costume, the silhouette was in vogue in the 1970’s especially with long gowns. High-waisted  empire waistlines were not super popular in the late 1970’s but you did see it. Also the dull muted pink color of Esmeralda’s dress was in keeping with the muted earth tones that dominated 70’s fashion. Whereas Fleur’s costumes are light and bright in color I.E not as trendy for the decade.  See another example here 

 

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Does this mean anything? In my non-expert expert opinion, I think this means the costume of Esmeralda is trying to endear the audience to Esmeralda as her costume is aesthetic pleasing to the times and Fleur de Lys’ costumes are not as trendy. Meaning the costumes are showcasing the lovable tragic heroine and the cruel rich bitch.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

So while Esmeralda’s costume is a 1970’s take on Medieval style  and Fleurs’ costumes are a little bit more in keeping with medieval sensibilities but are the costumes in the 1977 version good? For the most part they are good.As earlier started Fleur de Lys costumes are all lovely but Esmeralda’s costume  doesn’t seem correct. This actually could be less of the fault of the costume and more with the casting. Michelle Newell is not a great casting pick for Esmeralda. This costume does showcase a sweeter Esmeralda that had not been seen since 1923 but it just doesn’t really work with the character or the attitude of the actress.

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda

Esmeralda’s costume could have read as more accurate depiction of what a young Romani woman could have worn in the 1480’s, the reality is that her costume was just made with the 1970’s fashion aesthetics in mind.  

Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

 

This suggestion came off a  ideas wiki list but that list has since changed but we’re still going to go through them. Jessica Szhor is one of those actresses whom I have heard of but I have never actually seen in anything. She is most known for playing Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl and  playing Nessa on Shameless. Otherwise she has not been  in that much of note unless you like Piranha 3D, maybe it’s amazing but somehow I  very much doubt it. 

 

Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

As the link is for a Disney remark, Szhor is being suggested as a Disney Esmeralda and I can see why. For starters her overall look is great for Esmeralda. She part Hungarian and African-American. Her eyes are also blue. All around she looks the part. 

 

Jessica Szohr as Nessa from Shameless picture image

Jessica Szohr as Nessa from Shameless

Given the actors who appeared on the suggestion list, it seemed the idea was to go for a more comedic tone rather than a dramatic one, in this capacity Szhor could work in the role. She doesn’t seem like a dramatically driven actress. Given the right direction she could play the role effectively. 

 

Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

Jessica Szhor would not be my top choice to play Esmeralda but it’s understandable why someone would want her to play her in a Disney remake.