Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame Ma Maison c'est ta maison garou helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame

Compared to other musicals in the world, Notre Dame de Paris is VERY minimal for something that is marketed as a spectacle. As far as sets, set pieces and props, there isn’t really much going on in the show.

Luc Merville Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Clopin and the Court of miracles and the Attack of Notre Dame

The bulk of the set is really just a rock climbing wall that fills in for Notre Dame as well as some pillars that help sell the set as the cathedral when the scene demands. This puts a heavy burden on the lightening to change the scene as well as the mood.

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Esmeralda as Helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image Visite de Frollo à Esmeralda

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo and Esmeralda as Helene Segara

I won’t pretend I’m a lighting wizard who knows about filters and gels and what not, my experience in the theater ended in 8th grade and my teachers didn’t teach the students anything of backstage tech or even acting methods but Notre Dame de Paris does some great things with the lighting. It’s moody when it needs to be and warm and bright to communicate the outside. It has some nice patterns of cobblestone and rose windows. I don’t think that is too complex of an effect but it’s a nice touch throughout the show.

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire with dancer during Le Val d’amour

Then there is the dancing and acrobatics which is probably where most of the marketed “spectacle” lives. The dancing is sort of a mixed bag in terms of conception because without it the show is less a musical and more of a glorified concert but at some points it gets in the way of the show.

Not too often does the dancing do this but at some points it’s overkill, though I will admit that could a side effect of the editing on the DVD. I mean it’s not like I can just go to a place whenever and see the show, it hasn’t been in North American since 2005 and only has been performed in my country for one cast run in 2000 for six months. Am I bitter? Yes!

Garou Helene Segara Quasimodo and Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Quasimodo and Esmeralda

This post has gotten away from me. Anyway the staging, it’s fine for what it is, stylized minimalism.

Frollo and Quasimodo Der Glöckner von Notre Dame picture image

Frollo and Quasimodo Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a long film history of being a big grand production and Der Glöckner von Notre Dame of does a good job of capturing a grand scope on stage.

Esmeralda singing Helf den Verstoß'nen Der Glöckner von Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda singing Helf den Verstoß'nen Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

The Stage Design uses a lot of tricks to simulate heights and locations. They way the show does this is by using hydraulic to raise portions of the stages and they also use projections to show various locations. The Lighting also work well to capture the mood of the scene by also lets the projections shine.  For example, a Rose Window Projection with columns on stage and soft dark lighting to indicate the nave of Notre Dame or Clouds and Stone Carving with bright lights to show the top of the tower of Notre Dame. There are also a lot of moving pieces which add to the spectacle.

 

Esmeralda saving Phoebus Der Glöckner von Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda saving Phoebus Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

The overall effect looks well integrated and rich and less cheesy than standard sets. You can tell that this where the budget was mostly spent but I think it was worth it The Stage design combine the sets, lighting and projection to give Der Glöckner von Notre Dame a grand majestic style.

Molten Lead Der Glöckner von Notre Dame picture image

Molten Lead Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

Set Design by Heidi Ettinger, Projections by Jerome Sirlin, and Lighting by Rick Fisher

Watch a video the sets in action here

Next Time – Costumes

Esmeralda dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame Picture Image

Esmeralda Dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

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