In light of the way the 2016 Oscars acting award nominations went and with the general whitewashing of roles in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies, Esmeralda is an interesting role to discuss as her book self and her film presence are at weird odds.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda Hunchback chaney version 1923 picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda

In the book Esmeralda is presented as a Romani, and without getting it into too much, the Romani people are Ethnically different from the rest of Europe specifically France.  However Esmeralda’s backstory in the novel is that she was born Agnes to a French woman and raised by the Romani. This backstory is really only presented in two movies (three if you think the Dingo version count), those versions are the 1923 version and the 1999 Parody version albeit that version flips things around whereas she is born Esmeralda to Cubans and raised as Agnes by mean French people.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda in most movie versions of Hunchback is depicted as a full Romani, though the 1982 version  there was a throw away line that questioned her background but it went no where, so it hardly matters.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This brings us back to the topic, as Hollywood whitewashes many roles it interesting to note that in Esmeralda’s case they take role of girl who despite having dark hair and eyes  with tanned skin is for all accounts a white girl and instead makes the role one for a very specially ethnic minority and yet casts mostly white women. So far in movie versions only Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayek have looked the way the film versions theoretically want to depict the character.

 

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda

While in my own naive  little world I think casting should go to right person for the right part but it’s not that simple. A lot of roles are specific to someone’s looks and background. Hollywood however does of course forget that or ignores it and has a history of awarding parts that should go to people of minorities to white actors. Like the casting  of Emma Stone in Aloha or Rooney Mara in  Peter Pan or pretty much everyone in The Last Airbender or Scarlet Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie, heck Lucy was a Akira knock-off… I digress. The list of whitewashing practices in Hollywood is long.

And as this pertain to the Oscars, actors who fall into minority seldom get nominations and seldom win. Just for example Asian actors which Indian actors fall into, Only two Actors won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Yul Brynner (1956) and Ben Kingsley (1982). Kingsley also  got a nominations in 2003. For Actress only Merle Oberon got a best actress nomination in 1935 and no one else since. For Best Supporting Actor, only Haing S Ngor has won in 1984  and only five others have been nominated, Sessue Hayakawa (1957), Mako (1966), Pat Morita (1984), Ben Kingsley (1991) and Ken Watanabe (2003). Oddly the same goes for Best Supporting Actoress with only one winner and five others nominated. The only Asian winner was Miyoshi Umeki in 1957. The five who were nominated were Meg Tilly (1985), Jennifer Tilly (1994), Shohreh Aghdashloo (2003), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Hailee Steinfeld (2010).

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how does this apply to Esmeralda? The Hunchback of Notre Dame as I have said before, could be one those movies made specifically to win  awards. The role of Esmeralda could be deepen which has been done in the past like in 1939 version or even the Disney version. It could be made into one those Oscar bait roles with relative ease. If that did happen given the state of Hollywood I would prefer to see an Actress who fits into the Romani look more than being a purist to the book. Either an Indian actress or Hispanic actress could fit nicely, though ideally, a young Romani actress would be ideal.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Though given Hollywood’s warped sense of itself they probably would make Esmeralda a Romani, as  is the traditional method to her character and cast a popular blonde actress.

Is there an actress you would like see play Esmeralda?

 

Book 9, Chapter 4, Earthenware and Crystal

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

Esmeralda Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This chapter features a lot more interactions between Esmeralda and Quasimodo. He gives her a caged bird. One important interaction is Quasimodo tries to get Phoebus to come to Notre Dame to see Esmeralda. Poor Quasimodo waits around till 1am as Phoebus is at a pre-wedding party. Phoebus also doesn’t come because he believes Esmeralda to be dead. Quasimodo failing this task cause him to limit his interactions with Esmeralda. He then tries to convince her that his love for her is better than her dreams of Phoebus. He does this by singing to her and with a visual of two vases, one beautiful crystal that is cracked so the flowers are withered and one earthenware which is course and common but it retains the water leaving beautiful flowers. Esmeralda choices the wither flower from the crystal vase. You don’t have to be an English major to get the imaginary of the vase, Phoebus is the Crystal and Quasimodo is the earthenware. After that Quasimodo doesn’t interact with Esmeralda directly which is okay with but he sleeps outside her cell.

This chapter has been done in parts in movies, mainly in the Quasimodo getting Phoebus for Esmeralda. Sometimes he offers to get him like in the book and sometimes Esmeralda makes him go. The caged bird is seen sometimes. He also tries to tell Esmeralda that he loves her but can’t. This chapter also gives use the famous “ Oh, why am I not made of stone, like you.” Which is said to a grotesque image carved on a wall and not a gargoyle. I suppose gargoyles are more dramatic for a movie.

No movie that I know has done the vases. This because it relies on Esmeralda being shallow and naive and the movie versions at this point grow her up where she accepts Quasimodo as at least a friend.

All in all, it’s a good interesting chapter.

Book 9, Chapter 5, The Key to the Porte-Rouge

 

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Notre Dame de Paris

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Notre Dame de Paris

This chapter is Frollo learning that both Esmeralda and Phoebus are alive and thus is torment begins anew. He spends his time locked away and realizes he is jealous of Quasimodo. Then one night he can’t take his lust any more he head over to where Esmeralda is.

This is never done in the movie versions. If Frollo goes to Esmeralda it’s less pre-mediated or we just never see as Frollo isn’t the focus.

 

 

Book 9, Chapter 6, The Key to the Porte-Rouge (continued)

 

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

In this chapter Frollo tires to force himself on Esmeralda. Esmeralda is saved when she find the whistle that Quasimodo left her in chapter 3 of book 9, Deaf. Quasimodo attack Frollo but when he sees it’s Frollo he tells Frollo to kill him with the knife but Esmeralda grabs it first. Frollo isn’t too happy now.

You do sometimes see this scene in the movie, like in 1923, 1956, 1977, and the1982. It seldom ever played out perfect though I think the 1977 version is the closest.

Book 8, Chapter 1, The Crown Piece Changed to a Dry Leaf

 

Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) and Aristotle share a moment 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara) and Aristotle share a moment

This chapter Esmeralda’s unfair farce of a trial. Basically, she’s doomed before this thing even starts. I mean the treat it like an obligation. They really just need her to confess and when she fails to do so in this chapter, the old judge complains that she is holding up their meal. What Jerks.

Poor Djali, all she did was simple tricks and these jack-ass are like witchcraft. Oh and that La Falourdel bitch, her kid stole her money and then she complains about how her house was described in the report. Hate that lady.

 

Book 8, Chapter 2, Continuation of the Crown Piece Changed

 

Esmeralda being Tortured picture image

Esmeralda being Tortured

Since Esmeralda doesn’t want to confess to a crime she didn’t commit, she is tortured. She doesn’t last at all long before she breaks and starts confessing to just f-up stuff, like having intercourse with satan in the form Djali. This medieval judges are f-ed in the head.

Not a really fun chapter.

 

 

 

Book 8, Chapter 3, End of the Crown Piece Changed to a Dry Leaf

 

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda,

This chapter is Esmeralda and Djali sentence. Can say much about it though apparently part of her penance in paying the judges of the Bishop’s court and the candle she has to hold at Notre Dame is 2 pounds.

 

Poor Esmeralda.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

There has been bold Esmeraldas, sexy Esmeraldas, kind Esmeraldas, socially conscious Esmeraldas, mysterious Esmeraldas, vapid Esmeraldas but the 1982 version
of Esmeralda is different, she is the first timid Esmeralda.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

What makes her timid? Well, you know in the book how Esmeralda loves to dance? In this movie she doesn’t like to dance because she is scared of being arrested. An Esmeralda who hates to dance is like the biggest travesty I have seen in a Hunchback version because her love of dance and her free-spirited nature is paramount to her personality and appeal. Even when she does dance it’s half-hearted. Even if otherwise it was a great depiction of Esmeralda is a huge mark against her character and is unforgivable.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Let’s just talk about her looks for a minute. Lesley-Ann Down is very pretty but she is just not right for Esmeralda. Esmeralda is suppose to look exotic to an extent. Down has bright blue eyes and brown-ish hair, though in Hunchback it looked more dark blond. So we have a dark blond-ish blue-eyes Esmeralda. This made the jail scene silly when Frollo mentions her dark eyes which were actually bright blue. Down is more a classic English beauty, she just doesn’t read Gyspy which adds to not believing this depiction of Esmeralda. The film tries to excuse her looks, by Frollo asking if she is in fact a Gypsy and her saying she doesn’t know that is just was they told her.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Down is also a little on the old side to play to Esmeralda as a young girl. To combat this Down speaks softly. This adds to her timidness. This also makes her seem a bit dim however this Esmeralda isn’t as stupid as she seems. While she is attractive to Phoebus and is willing to sleep with him she does back off and try to leave once she finds out that he’s married. Which makes Frollo stabbing him infinitely unnecessary. She also wants Quasimodo to bring Phoebus to her not because she wants to see him but to convince Phoebus to get the charges dropped against her. She also recognizes her love for Gringoire.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture iamge

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

She also develops a bit of a backbone when she rejects Frollo in the jail cell and in Notre Dame, though she pretty much has to rescued both times. She also takes a stand to Gringoire when on their wedding night but that’s in the book. In any case it’s good that she doesn’t always use that timid little voice.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Derek Jacobi as Frollo,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Derek Jacobi as Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Down’s Esmeralda is one of the weaker depictions of Esmeralda. There is not a lot right about her character. Down is not fully to blame, fault lies everywhere; in the writing, in the directing, in the casting and in her acting. Who makes a timid Esmeralda who isn’t free-spirited and dislikes dancing and excepts an audience to buy that character as an good interpretation of Hugo’s heroine? Very little of the original personality of Esmeralda is present in this version except maybe her kindness but that is it. It’s just a weak version of Esmeralda all around and not believable as the character.

Next 1982 Article; Quasimodo

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pretty much the 1982 version follows the 1939 model of how to tell this story. However the 1982 version doesn’t dive into social commentary the same way. The blight of Gypsies is not an issue and Esmeralda doesn’t concern herself social inequality. Esmeralda’s main concerns are not getting arrested, marrying Phoebus and keeping Frollo off of her.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Derek Jacobi as Frollo,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frollo is also different than his 1939 incarnation. For one thing, in the 1982 version he is a priest and has no younger brother. Also he is a little more forward, instead of staring at her he basically tries to get with Esmeralda in the first 20 minutes. He went right to lust. But this version has a decent jail scene so point in its favor. Although I would point out that having Frollo bring Esmeralda into Notre Dame after she gets arrested for dancing and then trying to seduce her robs a bit from the jail scene when Esmeralda asks why he hates her. Esmeralda in the book was scared of Frollo and Frollo’s interaction with her was very limited to no existent. In this movie he is not really acting hateful toward Esmeralda. He acting confused and desperate but he was acting fairly nice toward till he tried touch her and she ran off. So  Esmerald questioning him was tad on the unnecessary side.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Gerry Sundquist as Gringoire,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Gerry Sundquist as Gringoire, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Since the social concerns are not presence in this movie Gringoire has little else to do but moon over Esmeralda, although like in 1939 version he and Esmeralda do fall in love and leave together at the end.

The Death of Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

The Death of Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Speaking of the end, Quasimodo kills Frollo in self- defense by impaling him on a nail. This…..this ……is not cool movie. While I get that the self-defense angle, impaling Frollo on a nail is A) stupid and anti-climactic  and B) having Frollo fall from Notre Dame is a powerful metaphor. My guess the reason why Frollo dies in this manner is the budget but still shame.

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo is pretty much the same from 1939 version, Hopkins plays him very sympathetic but it works.

David Suchet as Clopin, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

David Suchet as Clopin, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Clopin is not fun in this version, He is very conniving. He is not to concern about anything other than survival.

 Robert Powell as Phoebus &Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Robert Powell as Phoebus & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Phoebus is depicted as huge womanizing jerk who is married in this version. Another strange addition to this version is Frollo offering to buy Esmeralda from Gringoire.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Derek Jacobi as Frollo,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda & Derek Jacobi as Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This version plays the story out pretty conventionally. It doesn’t make too many big annoying changes to the plot. The changes they make are small and mostly the impact the characters.

So let’s dive deeper into those characters, let’s start with the heart and soul of the movie; Frollo

Derek Jacobi as Frollo,  1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Derek Jacobi as Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1982 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a US made for TV movie. It  was made 4 years after the 1977 version was released the US in 1978. It’s part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. It starred Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi as Quasimodo and Frollo. Most of the cast is made up of British actors.

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pretty much this movie plays out like the 1939 version but without King Louis and  the modernity angle and the blight the Gypsies in Paris. And it follows the book a bit more than the 1939 version but there a lot differences from.

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So, is this good version, an adequate version, or terrible awful version? Let’s Jump in, shall we?

Next 1982 Post – Let’s look at that plot

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esmeraldas of Hunchback of Notre Dame Miller, O'Hara, Lollobrigida, Down, Disney, Hayek, Segara, Thierry, Enchanted Tales

Miller, O’Hara, Lollobrigida, Down, Disney, Hayek, Segara, Thierry, Enchanted Tales

 

What Hunchback version is your favorite?

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