The 1986 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame operates a lot like the Jetlag version where we don’t have fleshed out rich characters but just representations.
The 1986 Esmeralda’s personality is more of a result of bad writing than actual character development.
So what do we know about this Esmeralda. Despite following the major plot points of the book, the Sister Gudule subplot is not present, so Esmeralda is full Romani. She also is proud to work hard for her living.
She does have a bit of growth as she claims that she first judged Quasimodo as ugly but learned that he is really beautiful on the inside.
Her being a Gypsy also wasn’t her problem, the movie says it was her being born beautiful, which is different since no other Hunchback version says that so bluntly.
She also is tortured a lot long than every other Esmeralda. Esmeralda is tortured for like a second but 86 Esmeralda lasts from 10:50am to 3pm. There was a clock to tell us, even though clocks with hands were are anachronism for 1482.
She is also the only Esmeralda who lives, that doesn’t get a fully relieved love story. She ends up with no one and seems ok with that. Of course, the movie just ends so it doesn’t really matter.
As far as looks go, despite the bad animation and general bad character design, she is pretty. Her costume is yellow and red. Ah, red Esmeralda costume, we meet again. At least her costume is mostly yellow. It’s a weird design though, I think I just find the large puff sleeve sans the length of the full skirt awkward. It hits her ankles and has two red ruffles along the skirt
I’m not sure if it her voice actress or not but this Esmeralda seems more mature but that could also be her vague personality too. But the low British accent doesn’t help much.
So what aspects of her personality are the result of bad writing? She is rather matter of fact and blunt. She tells Gringoire, point blank, after marring him her reason for doing it was to save him. She wastes no time. She is also not shy about approaching Phoebus. And she tells Frollo that she doesn’t know him. I don‘t think there was ever an Esmeralda as forthcoming as this one.
Since the movie tells the story has a fast rate this personality trait of being honest is for utility, this film does not have time for an ideal dreamy Esmeralda. So to get the story across she has to be honest and straightforward. It’s a interesting take on her but it wasn’t done initially.
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