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.  

Set from 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Set from 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Perhaps it’s mean to really be that judgmental towards the sets in this version of Hunchback. After all this is a BBC made for TV two part miniseries from the late 70’s, and based just on the look and the fact that they used a painting for exterior shots of Notre Dame, it points to them just not have any budget for sets.

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Kenneth Haigh as Frollo

As it stands this movie looks like it was shot on a single soundstage that was dressed to fit the scene, more like a play but necessity is the mother of invention so we can and will judge like the cold-hearted judgmental bitch critic we wish we were. Honestly, I started out  this review wanting to go easy on this movie for its sets but then I watched it again.

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

The sets are a awash of dull dark  browns and ashy grays. There is not much color to these sets. This could be an attempt to showcase the urbaness of medieval Paris  but just comes off as boring, like the rest of the movie and what this reviews series as devalued into. How many ways can I articulate this movie is dull? Turns out I don’t need to the sets do it for me.     

Set from 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Set from 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Let’s look at the first set of the movie, the place where Gringoire has his play performed, it a stage with a carpet  on it, some chairs, some candles holder and what look like stone frames. The walls, or a dropcloth, which are really far back are painted in red tones.  Now I always assumed that this was an interior BUT now that I look at the set and consider it more this is supposed to outside space given the red background and the stone frame things. But given that I just can’t really tell, how  effective is this set at conveying the where this scene takes place?

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys with Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers dancing at their wedding with corpses 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys with Richard Morant as Phoebus

I don’t think the sets are badly made, they look like they were well executed and they look competently constructed but given how dark everything looks and that the lighting isn’t helping you can’t really tell. Everything just fades into mediocrity.

Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers

Ultimately, there is not that much to say about this version’s treatment of Phoebus. He is book-accurate. He’s a soldier and a slut, that’s it for his characterization. He makes it clear he’s only marrying Fleur de Lys for her money though they are well suited for each our but that could just be the actor’s chemistry.  

That’s really all there is to say on this version of Phoebus.

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan is this version gets a lot of screen time because he actually has a functional role within the narrative. He is a plot exposition machine, if something is in need of explanation he is there to explain it to the viewer. Like how The Pope of Fools is crowned and Quasimodo’s deaf judge as well the implication what that means to the Parisian justice system which he doesn’t think highly of.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan also in his capacity for explaining is a bit of philosopher in this version, more so than Gringoire. He has this whole speech on storming Notre Dame for the “People” as it just as excuse for people to horrible things in the pursuit of wealth.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

He also doesn’t join the Court of Miracles,  he just joins in impulsive as they are in the act because it looks like fun and the promise of treasure before he unceremonious stab by a soldier.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

All in all Jehan is in keeping with his book counterpart as he is Frollo’s leech of a younger brother. He does has more of a role in this versions but he also means less to Frollo in terms of affection. Frollo just seem annoyed by his brother all the time and Jehan even mention that Quasimodo was a somewhat replacement brother. So Jehan has jealousy for Quasimodo for his brother’s affection.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan’s character is never at the forefront of these adaptations so there is less expectation  of the character, he’s not important and quite unlikable so while in this version he is in keeping with book he at least entertaining in this version.    

Christopher Gable as Gringoire The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Christopher Gable as Gringoire

In many ways this version of Gringoire is on point with the book. He does pretty all the action in does in the book with the same attitude. He has a high opinion of himself with regards to his work, he does want Esmeralda but backs off when he rebukes with awkward attempt at seduction,  he cowardice about dying for Esmeralda, he doesn’t want to die in her place. Although he didn’t steal Djali, would have been easy for him to do but he doesn’t. In fact he pretty damn callous in that scene since Esmeralda is begging not to leave and he like “laters.”

Christopher Gable as Gringoire The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Christopher Gable as Gringoire

In fact this Gringoire is very callous at the end of the movie. After Gringoire makes off with Djali we don’t hear from him again but we hear that he went on to write tragedies, so happy ending for him.  This version seeks to give the viewer closure on Gringoire, so after Frollo and Esmeralda die, Gringoire looks around at their bodies in the square and he  says  “And only I spared to tell the tale” then he smiles. At first before he says that line he does seem a little sad but the smiles after the line is said. It gives some credence to the story but it makes Gringoire look unlikable in this version. It does beg the question, was Gringoire unlikable in the book?

Christopher Gable as Gringoire The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Christopher Gable as Gringoire

I’d say no. He was fairly relatable. He didn’t want Esmeralda to die but he didn’t want to die either plus he had no idea what Frollo’s motivation were regarding Esmeralda.  But it’s amazing how that one line that the movie adds in to give Gringoire an ending made him look like such a jerk. It’s not even the line itself it that smile and the fact that right after said smile he says “there is a god in heaven.” Such a massive jerk-face.

Is there anything good about this version? And don’t say adherence to the book, many Hunchback versions adhere to the plot so they don’t have to add anything else to make it good for a visual medium.  

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

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

This version of Esmeralda is baffling. It’s neither good or bad. It’s super boring though. This Esmeralda hits all the marks of the plot that this version is going for; she is a gypsy dancer who likes her goat and Phoebus and doesn’t like Frollo very much. She doesn’t fear him like in the book so he is really a second thought.     

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

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

This version also tries to go for the charming, doe-eyed, innocence Esmeralda, which is not very convincing. Gina Lollobrigida was also unconvincing with her lines about innocence but she had more interest and charisma.  It’s just hard to separate this Esmeralda from her actress, as she  is styled in a very 70’s style, her costume doesn’t look very in character, more on that later, and again she is gypsy being played by a white woman.  If her name was Melody it would make the some amount of impact. I don’t feel Esmeralda’s character even though that is what being presented. More like a wax fruit than the real stuff.

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

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

It the same issues that the 1982 version had with Lesley-Anne Down, except there she was fearful and didn’t like dancing. That’s not a positive it just makes the role more the movie’s version and therefore different. This Esmeralda does have nothing  that separate her from her book persona and because of the gap in the execution there is nothing there, again it’s wax fruit when instead of actual fruit. She says the lines and there nothing believable or convincing about it. It’s a very boring and dare I say by the book, No it’s like act by numbers.  

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda with Christopher Gable as Gringoire The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda with Christopher Gable as Gringoire

There are some scene where she is believable  but it’s mostly when she is being playful, like the scene with Gringoire but that is really it. It’s just boring depiction.

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

Michelle Newell as Esmeralda The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977

I think they best way to showcase this this version of Esmeralda is go watch her introduction scene when she is dancing. The camera spends more time on shots of ugly extras than her dancing. The director would rather focus on extras than the woman that all the male characters obsess over.  

The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Stage Musical picture image sheet music

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Stage Musical

 

Releasing at the end of the month on October 30th is the The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Stage Musical. It has arrangements of  17 songs from the stage musical adapted from  stage musical and the Disney movie. This collection includes vocal line arrangements with piano accompaniment. Pre-order it here

 

 

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.

Quaismodo Bells of Notre dame reprise Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quaismodo Bells of Notre dame reprise Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

I get a Google-Alert for Hunchback of Notre Dame. However it sucks. Mostly it just tells me about another regional production of Hunchback, which is great or something on Criaglist.  To be honest I mostly ignore the alerts. Last Saturday though I got it in my head to just look on Google News for Hunchback when I saw this;

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame/266641/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-live-action-remake-considered-by-disney

OR a similar news outlet making this report.  Also I think my Google Alert alerted me to this on Monday.

So about the news. It’s  not yet happening so to speak but Alan Meken said

“I can’t say anything yet,” Menken said, “but I think Hunchback would make an amazing live action musical.”

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo during Out There Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

So it MIGHT happen. After watching the Beauty and the Beast  remake, I think Hunchback is the way for Disney. It really did seemed with the new Beauty and beast movie they were trying to captizle on a movie that studios already thought was near flawless which is why they only changed minor things and did a fairly straight shot for shot remake. What was the point of remaking it other than making money? They could have just re-released the 1991 movie to theater if there weren’t going to adapt the story for the medium more. Say what you want about the 2015 Cinderella movie, at least it was different from the cartoon. Which bring us back to Hunchback.

Disney never liked Hunchback that much. It didn’t make much money ergo it wasn’t successful for Disney. Also the darker tone was turn off for a lot of people. A live-action version could fix a lot of issues and people might be more forgiving of a dark tone. It would be interesting to see what is done with the story. Do they make it more of blend of the musical and the cartoon. Or do they follow the book more? Do we get a more innocent Esmeralda and angry Quasimodo? Do we get a priest/alchemist Frollo?  Do we get a Gringoire?

If this movie does get made it brings the total number of Hunchback movie adaptions in production up. Very technically speaking there are three in the works. There is the Max Ryan version (could be in filming hell), there was the version from Esmeralda’s perspective (haven’t heard any new on that one in a long time) and the Universal Monster version (hope The Mummy didn’t kill this being made.) Pretty sure the jazzy Brolin version is dead.

Anyway well we’ll just have to wait and see but I’m up for a new Hunchback version good to bad.