Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda,

In the 1997 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame or very simple called The Hunchback, there is a scene about 45 minutes in the movie where Esmeralda and Frollo meet. It a combination a few different scenes, we have Esmeralda’s prayer, the Frollo stares scene al la 1939 and Frollo’s confession.

In the scene Esmeralda prays outside Notre Dame asking forgiveness for Quasimodo’s torture. Frollo is in a cart next to her and through the fabric he confesses his feeling. Esmeralda lingers and hears this and she draws her knife and looks into the cart only to have Frollo around the other side. The scene ends with Esmeralda seeing death in his palm which I guess he talk as sign that he should go kill someone because that is the next thing he does, ah plots you seldom ever make sense.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

Again the this scene isn’t like scary but there is a creepy tone to this scene. It has good mood and atmosphere. It also helps that Frollo looks like Nosferatu. Really when you think about it this scene is like if the kidnap attempt scene from 1939 version and Hellfire had a baby.

When I was making a page on Frollos of Notre Dame de Paris (which I probably needs to updated or something), I was struck with how young the Italian cast was skewing on their casting for Frollo.

Vincenzo Nizzardo as Frollo  10th anniversary cast of the Italian Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Vincenzo Nizzardo as Frollo

For the 10th anniversary cast of the Italian Notre Dame de Paris, Vicenzo Nizzardo was casted and at the time he was roughly 25, so he is a good solid ten years younger than book Frollo. At the time was I off-put by this choice towards a younger Frollo but recently I have asked myself, Can we have a young Frollo?

Lemud Illustration of Frollo picture image

Lemud Illustration of Frollo

Frollo in the book is in his mid 30’s which for the 1400’s is considered old but more than that, he looks old. If I remember the book correctly, Frollo always looked older even when he in the height of youth.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

Traditionally in films versions Frollo is played but an older man. Here is a list of the guys who have played Frollo and their ages when they played the role, (in the 23 and 39 version case I’m counting Jehan as the Frollo and I’m not counting cartoons versions.)

Walter Law (1917) – 41
Annesley Healy (1922) -N/A couldn’t find a birthday year
Brandon Hurst (1923) – 57
Sir Cedric Hardwicke (1939) – 46
Alan Cuny (1956) – 48
Kenneth Haigh (1977) – 46
Derek Jacobi (1982) -44
Richard Harris (1997) -67
Richard Berry (1999 parody) – 50

Jehan Frollo (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Jehan Frollo, Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Movie Frollos have an estimated average age of 49 with a mean of 46 and a range of 41 to 67. That means, if I remember correctly and Frollo is about 36 years old that is 13 year differences between his book age and the average.

Richard Berry as Frollo 1999 Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

Hollywood and movie typically cast actors who are older than their roles, I mean Quasimodo is typically played but 40 years old when in the book he says he about 25 year, I should do a post of that someday because that is more irritating.

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

Derek Jacobi as Frollo, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So back to our original question, Can we have a young Frollo? I would say ideally it should be the best actor for the role but that doesn’t always work. Frollo should at the very least read older than the rest of the cast, especially Quasimodo and Esmeralda. So an actor who is at least in his upper twenties through his 40’s is perfect. What is really should come down to is the actor has a hard austere look. Having a Frollo with softer features robs the intensity from the character and if that means casting an actor who is younger so be it. I could forgive a movie that makes a Frollo that has ten year old difference with Quasimodo, as long as they make it clear he is the care giver and he has the right look.

Alan Rickman picture image

Alan Rickman

Benedict Cumberbatch picture image

Benedict Cumberbatch

Charles Dance picture image

Charles Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does this mean I think an actor who is older wouldn’t work for the role? No, I still maintain that Alan Rickman and Charles Dance would make great Frollos, though if they cast Benedict Cumberbatch that would be great too. Should find a  Non-Britsh actor for a recommendation for Frollo, geezes

What do you guys think? Would you be okay with a younger actor playing Frollo? Quite honestly I would just be happy with another film version.

This was too much math for one post, @@.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback picture harris

Richard Harris as Frollo, yells No!

The 1997 Hunchback was directed Peter Medak. Medak is no stranger to TV movie directing and TV directing in general. The directing in this adaptation is mixture of weird angle frames and total utilitarian shot-verse-shots.

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda,

The competing style of the artistic angled frames and the shot-verse-shots makes for an interesting visual style and by that I mean silly. It’s almost like Medak didn’t know what he wanted when composing the frames and the shots. He shot conversational scenes very utilitarian for efficacy and then he got bored and decided to tilt the camera for visual interest. But the weird competing approaches to directing style just make this version look very awkward. I suppose the awkward directing style is a compliment to the awkward writing choices, so at least it’s consistent.

Next Time – Costumes

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

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1997 version of the Hunchback confounds me a lot. You pretty have the right actors for the characters and they do a fairly competent job with material they are given but the material given to them is so wrong for a Hunchback adaptation. It’s clear that this movie was emulating the 1939 Laughton version with the printing press and a very sympathetic Quasimodo but it fails to measure up became the execution is miserable.

It’s like if you have all the ingredients to make a simple chocolate cake but half through you decide that you want to make it your own except you have no concept of cooking so you just start throwing whatever you want in there like Bacon, Walnuts, Cherries, whatever. Then you’re surprise when it doesn’t cook right and no one likes it.

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo

Quasimodo and Esmeralda are the least offensively bad but to be fair these types of versions of the characters that they are portraying are common. Humanize and sympathetic Quasimodos are the norm with film adaptions because the audience has to like Quasimodo despite his looks.

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda

Same goes for Esmeralda. Having a shallow immature girl is not the way to win over an audience. Having a strong confidence yet kind beautiful women works perfectly. Both of these character choices reflects an easy out. A Quasimodo and Esmeralda with a character arc would be hard to write. On could argue that Quasimodo’s arc would be realizing Frollo is a mean jerk face but since he is a villain that’s easy. THe real issue is with Esmeralda is that she doesn’t do anything in this movie outside of looking attractive . She gives Quasimodo water for feelings of guilt but that it. Her importance is just being there for Quasimodo and Frollo to react to and not doing anything.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

Then there is colossal fail that is Frollo in this movie. The biggest issue with Frollo in this movie is that is obsession for Esmeralda is the result of feeling weak with regard to the king’s attitude on the printing press. His lust for Esmeralda feels like an afterthought and that shouldn’t be. The plot revolves around that. Once that decision was made other integral parts of the plot suffered like why would Esmeralda get the blame for the minster’s murder? Who saw the knife and knew it was her’s when it’s only in one scene? No Phoebus and Gringoire does nothing.

The 1997 Hunchback fails as Hunchback adaptation because Frollo’s lust set the story in motion. A failure to understand what drives the story is the reason why this version even with good castings fails.

Next time the Direction

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture harris

Richard Harris as Frollo, yells No!

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

The Frollo in the 1997 version of Hunchback is odd to say the least. He is a weird mash of the 1939 version’s obsession with fear of the modernity and vampire-monk. Really it’s hard to get over the look of him but that is the least of his problems.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

Let’s start with the root of Frollo, his obsession and this is the bad part of this depiction. Frollo in this version is struggling with getting rid of printing presses to keep the ease of access on acquiring knowledge down. Frollo is accused of trying to suppress knowledge but he loves knowledge. His feeling is that if knowledge is easy to get it, it cheapens it, so down with printed books. The one he is struggling against is the king’s minister whom Frollo kills instead of Phoebus.  Frollo’s obsession for Esmeralda seem to  spawn from his inability to get the king of his side about the printing press.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

Frollo’s obsession is split and this and this is the problem. Frollo in this version is way more into the printing press than getting Esmeralda. He only seem to press the issue with Esmeralda because his resolve is being tested and he  is weak. This robs everything from Frollo’s drama.  It not interesting to watch this split obsession, Frollo obsession should be all consuming. Perhaps weakness begets weakness but Frollo’s character suffers a lot for it. His obsession for Esmeralda feels like an afterthought  than a major plot point.

 

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

I think Richard Harris does a fair job with the material but any passion or energy he could have given to Frollo is not there. It’s not like not there but the most I show was him taking baout knowledge. I think i idea was to keep Frollo repressed with Esmeralda but when he says he was mad and crazy for for her but we never seem those emotion it cheapens the performance, the dialogue and the story.

 

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

Then we have his looks. This Frollo is very different, he looks like Nosferatu. It’s very austere even for Frollo. The look  is really distracting because he is suppose to look old, he is not suppose to look like a vampire from 1922.

Richard Harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo

 

I know Richard Harris was a good actor and Frollo should be a great character to play but this depiction of Frollo has passion for the wrong aspect and the character is a confused mess.

Next Time Gringoire

Edward Atterton as Gringoire, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Edward Atterton as Gringoire

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda,

The 1997 version of The Hunchback is in someways is very faithful to the book but in more ways it diverges so much. Overall, it has a great mood that feels like the original book. It knows when to be bright and knows when to be somber. But in what ways does the plot massively diverge, oh let me count the ways.

 

Richard Harris as Frollo and the Printing Press, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Richard Harris as Frollo and the Printing Press

First, the big one, The Printing Press. The Printing  Press was briefly discussed in the novel and was a major subplot in the 1939 version but the in 1997 version, it’s a big part of the plot, in fact it’s the first thing Frollo does. In the opening scene, Frollo commandeers a Printing Press and then find baby Quasimodo.

 

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda,

The Printing Press is also a big part in Esmeralda’s trial. Since Phoebus is not in this, he can’t get stab instead Frollo is at odds with a minster who wants to legalizes the printing press. Frollo isn’t against knowledge, he is against keeping it from being easy because if it easy to attain it’s worthless. So Frollo is at odds with this minster and his obsession for Esmeralda. After his run in with minster and getting turned down by the King, Frollo seeks out Esmeralda and confesses his obsession to her. She runs off but drops her knife which Frollo then uses to kill the minister and Esmeralda is blamed.

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo and Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo and Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback

Quasimodo also uses the old commandeer Printing Press to make a pamphlet to help free Esmeralda which he gives to Gringoire to distribute. On the some note Quasimodo in this version love learning and books.

 

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda and Edward as Gringoire, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda and Edward Atterton as Gringoire

Speaking of Gringoire and Esmeralda, unlike other versions where if the fall in love it’s over time usually at the point where Esmeralda gets in trouble. In this version it’s pretty quick.  She kisses him the scene after they get married. Not a big change just worth a mention.

 

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo and Richard harris as Frollo, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo and Richard Harris as Frollo

A big change  that is worth mentioning is the attack on Notre Dame and and the climax. Much like the Disney movie the attack on Notre Dame occurs right after Quasimodo saves Esmeralda. Unlike the Disney movie it’s not at the end but like novel in the middle. So the climax is Quasimodo goes to the court of Miracles to give Gringoire the pamphlets and to get Djali for Esmeralda. He returns and finds Esmeralda gone. It turns out Frollo handed her back to executioner and she is going to be hanged. Frollo tells Quasimodo everything and as Esmeralda is about to be hanged the Court of Miracle show up and saves her. Quasimodo threaten to throw Frollo off Notre Dame until he confess before all of Paris that he is murder. As Frollo and Quasimodo walk off, Esmeralda runs into the Cathedral, Frollo in a rage tries to stab her but stabs Quasimodo by accident. In their fight they go over the edge of Notre Dame and Frollo dies. Quasimodo hangs on and Esmeralda and Gringoire save him from the ledge but dies of his wounds under his bells.

 

Richard Harris as Frollo hiring thugs, 1997 The Hunchback picture images

Richard Harris as Frollo hiring thugs

Another big change is Frollo doesn’t send Quasimodo to capture Esmeralda. Frollo hires some thugs and Quasimodo follows and tries to help but gets arrested.

A Gargoyle with molten Lead,1997 The Hunchback picture image

A Gargoyle with molten Lead

 

I won’t pretend that these big changes are not weird. It was practically jarring to see the attack on Notre Dame scene in the middle of the story. It really loses the drama. And Quasimodo not trying to capture Frollo lacks a punch too. The version makes up for these it other areas but still it’s a weird.

 

Next time Esmeralda

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda

1997 The hunchback Richard harris, frollo, Quasimodo, Mandy Patinkin, Salma Hayek, Esmeralda, picture image

1997 The hunchback

The 1997 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame is simply called “The Hunchback.” It was a TV movie directed by Peter Medak and stars Inigo Montoya, Dumbledore and Salma Hayek. Wait, that’s not right, It stars Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo, Richard Harris as Frollo and Salma Hayek as Salma Hayek, I mean Esmeralda.

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

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Like the 1939 version, this version features the printing press very prominently, in fact it’s a major plot point. It is also one of the only versions that doesn’t have a Phoebus character. There is a blonde soldier but he’s a featured extra and nothing more.

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Despite the title being “The Hunchback” this movie is most well known for Hayek as Esmeralda probably because in many was it’s a really good casting choice.

So how does this version fair? Is it a great version, a merely passable version, or a purely mediocre version?

Let’s find out!

Next time the Plot ……..

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo,  The Hunchback 1997 picture image

Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo