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.
It’s been announce that Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage and Charles dance will produce a TV drama called Quasimodo based on The Hunchback. Now we have been burned before on Hunchback versions like with Brolin and that one from Esmeralda point of view and I don’t know what’s up with the Max Ryan version. There is also that universal monster cinematic universe and MAYBE. maybe a Disney live-action version is could maybe happen, maybe. However I’m excited and I hope this gets made.
I do like the idea of Dinklage and Dance starring as Quasimodo and Frollo. Though they wouldn’t super idea to the roles as Quasimodo is liken to a giant and Frollo is mid-aged from a late renaissance point of view, still I think they could act the roles well pending on how the story is adapted.
Also Charles Dance was one my Hypothetical casting for Frollo and I still maintain that he would be a great Frollo. And oddly George R.R. Martin did allude to Quasimodo when Cersei refer to Tyrion in A Feast for Crows “swing from a rope in the Sept of Baelor” and Dinklage plays Tyrion on the HBO show of Game of Thrones. You can read that post here. So if they do take the roles it would be great casting.
You can read more of this story below;
Recently I found this http://ideas.wikia.com/wiki/The_Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_(Live-action_remake) which I consider a treaure trove of possibalities. For the record this is a hypothetical casting for a hypothetical live action Disney remake of Hunchback, it’s not real. So I thought it would be fun to go through these casting picks and see how these actors be in the roles.
Looking at the list the casting picks seem pretty on point but Justin Timberlake as Quasimodo stands out a little or a lot. I just can’t see this as a casting option but I tend to be wrong so let’s dive into this, shall we?
Timberlake is most known as a singer. He was survivor of the Great Boy Band Wars of the late 90’s as he was in the group called N’Sync. He managed to shake whatever personality he had in the group to be a solo artist (wasn’t a fan of the Boy Bands). His music has a slick cool vibe and that vibe seems to get translated into his film roles.
Timberlake has been in quite a few movies but he has never really been propelled into superstar status as an actor the same way he is as a singer. Could a role as Quasimodo be the catalyst for him to be a mega film star? Quasimodo does seem to be a sort of vanity role for actors as it’s very demanding both physically and emotionally, plus it’s scientifically proven that making attractive actors ugly means huge accolades, no wonder Josh Brolin and Max Ryan wanted to play Quasimodo.
Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, The Social Network
However this is Disney’s Quasimodo. Not saying that it wouldn’t be a challenge to play this role in a live-action version but Disney’s Quasimodo is more innocent and naive than other versions. So let’s just pretend for a second and make a GREAT big assumption and say that a live-action version would favor the musical version of the character. Is there much difference between the two versions? Not that much but Quasimodo in the musical seems a little more rougher and less sweet than he is the Disney movie.
Could Timberlake be convincing as Quasimodo? I can’ see it. I can see him singing the Quasimodo’s song but acting as a meek abused yet hopeful character, no. His roles have a sleek and cool edge which Quasimodo doesn’t have at all. Is it fair to base this on his past roles? Yes and no. Clearly he is suited to roles likes Sean Parker from The Social Network but that isn’t to say that couldn’t play Quasimodo. He could nail the part, anything is possiable in theory.
As I said Quasimodo is one those coveted roles that most ambitious actors would LOVE to play so if Timberlake wanted to be considered a serious actor he could try and get the role but considering his filmography and his career as a singers I can’t see him playing Quasimodo.
Then again I could be very wrong. What do you guys think? Could Justin Timberlake play Quasimodo? Do you want him to play Quasimodo?
Quasimodo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow
In the realm of Quasimodo adaptations, this one opts for the sweet pathetic type. There is zero edge to him and that made him boring. Quasimodo in this version exists solely for the purpose of Esmeralda. He like-likes her, saves her and dies for her. While all that exists in the book Quasimodo doesn’t strictly die because of Esmeralda, he also dies because he killed Frollo. Adaptations forget that Quasimodo did love Frollo too and while he did kill Frollo for what he did to Esmeralda, he did so in a fit of rage. Honestly few versions really understand Quasimodo, they just see the pathos of his character but not his mind or half of his characterization.
Quasimodo as The Pope of Fools, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow
As it’s stands with this Ballet, Quasimodo doesn’t have a strong attachment to Frollo and there is no backstory. The lack of the backstory is not a huge issue as it’s ballet, it’s forgivable but there is somethings that unforgivable. Quasimodo doesn’t seem to care about Notre Dame, like the cathedral is barely in the ballet. Fleur de Lys’ parlour has more stage time that Notre Dame. That just seems wrong. Also the Pope of Fools part was shoe-horned in middle of the ballet for little reason. It didn’t even makes sense after the whole kidnap attempt scene to have the Pope of Fools. The point of which is to show Frollo’s powers over Quasimodo and the then how the relationship is damaged after Frollo leaves Quasimodo to suffer for his crime. It would have been better not to have the Pope of Fools scene than messing up the order and their relationship dynamic.
Quasimodo & Frollo, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow
One could argue that this Esmeralda’s story and messing with the dynamic of Quasimodo and Frollo is inconsequential to the emotional impact for her tragedy but that is misguided. You can’t show Esmeralda’s place in Quasimodo’s heart without the juxtaposition of Frollo or even Notre Dame in Quasimodo’s world.
Esmeralda & Quasimodo, La Esmeralda, Kremlin Ballet Company, Moscow
Quasimodo in this version just exists for Esmeralda. It’s akin more closely to Disney Quasimodo’s schoolboy crush but in the guise of a tragic ballet.
I feel like I’m in some weird ring of hell. A Ring of Hell where my sole torture is rewatching this version of Hunchback. I can’t tell you in how many ways I just loathe this version and it’s not even in a logical, it’s visceral, it strikes me down to my core. I hate everything about this version and it hurts my soul in so many ways that I’m not sure I can quantify anymore why it’s a puke stain on the already dirty carpet of Hunchback version aimed at children. I think the main reason I can’t articulate why it’s terrible is because it has the same problems as every other Disney knock-off versions, at this point it’s a case of “second verse same of the first.” Everything is just the worst but you came here to read something that in some way resembles a review or you just click on a picture or you’re lost and have already clicked away but whatever the case the subject line has spoken and it’s not even trying to be clickbait so let’s get this over with.
Esmeralda and Quasimodo,
As is standard with these knock-off Disney direct to video movies the animation super low budget. The use of repeat animation for extras to pad out the run time is beyond annoying and I might not have minded it so much if the movie didn’t start that way. It takes nearly three minutes to get to Esmeralda awkwardly dancing about, three minutes of just nothing but random town’s people laughing and clapping on repeat. In addition to animation being stilled, awkward and mostly on repeat most of the shots are at flat angles. There is nothing interesting or memorable about the way the shots are composed to even hold a remote sense of attention.
But again I’m not done, though I wish I was, this will never end. There is the color design of this thing. If you think I was joking about calling this movie being like puke you were wrong. The color this movie most likes to use is a weird dark yellow color that resembles vomit. They also use a green that looks like another shade of puke. I’m not kidding this movie has an ugly and all-round unpleasant color palette. If they were trying I guess they were trying to make it warm but they failed, they failed hard.
Esmeralda meets Phoebus
Then there is the character design. Can you believe I didn’t really touch in the character designs yet? Both Phoebus and Esmeralda are drawn to be the prettiest that the shitty animation will allow. This of course gives them no visual interest so being “beautiful” by this movie’s standard is a mute point. Though the best line in this movie is Frollo describing Esmeralda’s eyes as “shining brighter than the most beautiful stars in the night sky.” Too bad they don’t.
Quasimodo with his doves
Quasimodo is your typical cute, nice, deformed design that you see over and over again. He is very bulbous and round making him “cute.” Which is like standard in character design round is good and angles are bad.
Speaking of angles there is Frollo. And he is yet another case of “second verse same as the first. Agian he looks like a mix of Disney Gaston and Jafar. Why? Who are they even coping at this point? This is like the third Frollo to look like this? He doesn’t look like either Disney Frollo or the 1939 version. Is this a case of parallel thought between three stupid Disney Knock-off versions, where they combined two popular Disney villains or did this version copy Secret of the Hunchback of Enchanted Tales? Both options scream laziness. Though to be fair this version did take Frollo’s design beyond merely combining Gaston and Jafar and instead cross that combination with a fish.
This version is just entirely forgettable with its abysmal animation, boring flat angles, cringe-inducing color palette and lazy character design. The only thing I can recall about this movie is how forgettable this version is and that is why I have to rewatch it thus prolonging the torture of the ring of hell I now occupy.
Instead of trying to find items that reflect Hunchback characters’ style like I have done in the past, like watches one from three years ago, this year I’m going to feature one cool Hunchback item from Amazon.
This year is a Quasimodo phone case.
Quasimodo Phone Case
I really like the design. I love Quasimodo as a negative silhouette against Notre Dame. Really it’s a pretty perfect design. Also just on a personal level, I like green and gold as a color combo.
Anthony Bourdain and Quasimodo
In a recent interview for his new season of Anthony Bourdain:Parts Unknown for Eater.com, Bourdain compared himself to Quasimodo.
“On feeling out of place: “I feel like Quasimodo the hunchback of Notre Dame — if he stayed in nice hotel suites with high thread count sheets, that would be me. I feel kind of like a freak, and I feel very isolated. ”
I used to watch his show No Reservations a lot and I loved that he was in an episode of Archer pretty much being himself but more of a jerk.
You can read the whole interview here
Quasimodo crowned King of Clowns
Quasimodo has to be the worse. In fact this is one of the worse versions of Quasimodo. He’s like a weird lesson in total apathy.
Esmeralda and Quasimodo,
Quasimodo doesn’t do much in this movie and he says much less. Sure, he does all things that Quasimodo does in the course of the story but the execution of it just so lifeless that who the fuck really cares? Quasimodo has no definable personality and seemingly no intelligence. He doesn’t use pronouns and refers to himself as “Quasimodo.” Some of these lines are “Quasimodo your friend” or “ Quasimodo not your friend.” These are actual lines he says in this version. Typically this method of speaking denotes cuteness or a young child, like a three year old, but it makes Quasimodo seem like he has a low intelligence. He’s deaf not an simpering idiot. In fact the only thing he does that is at all in line with the 1939 version is he rings the bells thinking about Esmeralda, whom he just calls his friends. No love just pals, way to dig deep into this psyche movie.
Quasimodo fighting Frollo
Aside from Esmeralda and that is really just giving her flowers, Quasimodo has no interactions with Frollo aside from the trial scene and the ending. If Frollo hasn’t said he was Quaismodo’s guardian in a line of exposition it wouldn’t been known and really it’s another example of just not caring. It didn’t matter in the scheme of things if Frollo was his guardian or not in this version because Quasimodo doesn’t care when he kill Frollo and yes Quasimodo pushes Frollo down the Bell Tower after hitting with a bell.
Quasimodo with his doves
Forget not having pathos or being a pitiable character, this version of Quasimodo can’t even grasp pain. He doesn’t care about anything so why should anyone care about this Quasimodo he has no understanding or anything which makes him boring and not sympathetic which makes nothing like his character in any version of Hunchback.
Let’s end this month with another singer since that has been the sort of theme to this scary casting picks. Here for your consideration is Jack Black, a musician who makes comedic songs and does act, which is really more than you can say for the previously people this month. But why would Black not make a good casting choice for Quasimodo? Well it’s not really a question I think anyone has ever asked because it sounds too ridiculous.
For the record, Jack Black is fine in his singing and acting capacity but oh dear god is he wrong in type. Most actors have a type, roles the can play well. Sometimes an actor can surpass it and play roles that you would never expect but mostly they are in some kind of type. This is more true with singers as they are all about an image and Jack Black has the wrong image. Black has a very crass and vulgar way about his humor that is so wrong for Quasimodo. Quasimodo is often depicted as sad yet kind. Sometimes he gets his whole hating people angle but that is rare. Quasimodo has been somewhat vulgar once but it was wrapped up in arrested development. In the French parody he was childlike and drew some crude pictures of Esmeralda but that is still not at the level of Jack Black.
However, there is always the chance that someone, some weird coke-brained studio executive makes a Hunchback movie that casts Jack Black as Quasimodo. It would be Black in Quasimodo make-up but it would really just be Black being himself or his type with his humor. And yet it would still be a better Quasimodo than most of the shitty Disney Knock-offs, which is just sad and little scary to say.
You know I take it all back, I want a version of Hunchback with Gerard Bulter as Frollo, Ariana Grande as Esmeralda, Justin Bieber as Phoebus and Jack Black as Quasimodo. It would be at the most cringe inducing train wreck of epic proportion, that though your eyes will burn, your stomach with expel its content, ever muscle in your being with compel you to run you will not be able to avert your gaze for it is true evil but it would be a at least a new Hunchback of Notre Dame movie.
If you didn’t figure it out, the other Burbank version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame followed the plot of the 1939 version in a rough and unapologetic manner. This is technically the first version to be based off of the 1939 version since the 1997 version came out later but the 1997 version did take the basic plot of the 1939 version and add other elements like Quasimodo liking books. What did this version do to distinguish itself? Well, Quasimodo has doves and Frollo has a literal birth mark of evil. That is the only thing that is original to this version from the 1939 version never mind the book, there is no point discussing the book against this version.
Esmeralda and Quasimodo
Perhaps it’s unfair to say that this version should have add something to the basic plot of the 1939 version, after all this is a streamline version of Hunchback for kids. But just because it’s a short version condensed down to forty minutes, did it have to be so devoid of impact? This version is without a doubt the blandest, joyless, soul crushing version of hunchback to date. It’s has all the flavor watery hospitable vanilla ice cream. There is nothing in this version that conveys any sort of emotion or interest. It’s like a paint by number retelling of another retelling.