Next Character – Phoebus – Auxiliary Hero?
Part of Disney’s formula to success for their films of the 90’s are archetypes. You have the hero/heroine, villain, sidekicks both good and evil, some kind of parental figure and some kind of larger than life characters that’s usually one of the side kicks (they’ll usually get the show stopper of the film). Of course these are not set in stone, different characters are given different presidencies. So how does Phoebus fit into the Disney’s archetypes? That’s a good question, he’s not the hero that’s Quasimodo. He’s not the villain, Frollo fits very snugly into that role. He’s not the heroine – wrong sex. He’s not an annoying sidekick- the film already exhausted that one. He could be a villain sidekick as he worked for the villain but those are usually goofy or bumbling if a villain gets one at all and plus he not villainous. He’s kind of parental in the way he encourages Quasimodo but he’s not that archetype either. Mmmmmm, I’m out of archetypes. Well I guess Phoebus is the Auxiliary Hero. He does heroic stuff but all the credit goes to Quaismodo but Phoebus gets the girl. I guess Phoebus gets a better deal “half the work and a girlfriend.” Better luck in the sequel Quasi.
Phoebus is a weird character in the realm of the Hunchback adaptions: sometimes he’s the hero, sometimes he’s an asshole, sometimes he just a plot point, sometimes you hardly notice him and sometimes he’s not even there. In this way Phoebus is like Pierre Gringoire. The differences between the two is Gringoire is a coward not a jerk and sometimes he’ll be the story teller. Now for the people who have only seen the Disney film, Gringoire is not in the film but his characterization was split between Clopin and Phoebus.
We’ll get back to thought in a bit but let’s look a Phoebus a little. Phoebus (voiced by Kevin Klein) is a nobel who is a captain in the army. At the start of the film he gets a promotion to Captain of the Judges’ Guards which means he has to “take care” of Gypsies. This evidently wasn’t in the job description because he had no idea what he signed up for and he’s annoyed to come back from the wars to deal with beggars, street performers and fortune tellers. Phoebus has a dry wit, a lot of integrity and morality (He’s the male Esmeralda). He has a very different look than most disney men – he’s older and has facial hair (a first for Disney). He falls for Esmeralda very early in the film when he first sees her dancing and is further interested when he sees her “conflict aversion” skills (the chase scene).
He saves Esmerlda from Frollo by saying that she claimed sanctuary which she never did. Phoebus proves to be of the hero variety when he stands in opposition of Frollo’s mad man antics. Phoebus is ordered to burn down a house of a family who accused of harboring Gypsies with the family inside. Phoebus doesn’t compile and saves the family. Because Frollo doesn’t take kindly to people not obeying his every little insane whim, Phoebus is to be executed. Esmeralda creates a distraction and Phoebus tries escape on Frollo’s horse but is shot and falls into a river and Esmeralda has to save him agian. Esmeralda takes him to Notre Dame for safety. It’s there where they share the longest Disney kiss (over 30 seconds). After Frollo announces he going to attack the Court of Miracles, Phoebus unwittingly encourages Quasimodo to warn Esmeralda and the rest of the Gypsies. So they find the Court of Miracle and after a brif encourter with the noose, he and Quasimdo warn the Gypsies to leave but Frollo shows up and arrests everyone. So Phoebus is to be executed after Esmeralda but luckily Quasimodo saves Esmeralda and Phoebus escape his cage and rallies the people to fights against Frollo. Phoebus then saves Quasimodo from falling off Notre Dame and happy ending are shared by all (except Frollo).
So Phoebus is a hero but Quaismodo is the focused hero and the film never wants you to forget that. Back to the thought of Phoebus filling in as Gringoire. Gringoire in the book has the best relationship with Esmeralda and that’s why so many of the films place these two together more than the Phoebus/Esmeralda relationship. The rallying of the people and helping Esmeralda are things that Gringoire exhibits. One of the deleted songs from the Disney version called “As Long as there a Moon” and it occurs right after Esmeralda saves Phoebus and Quasimodo from Clopin’s fun. It was supposed to be a love song for Phoebus and Esmeralda and it included a wedding ceremony where they smashed a pitcher. So Phoebus takes on Gringoire in this delated scene. The reason why it was delated is because the directors felt it took the focus off of Quasimodo but it really did throw off the pacing of the film
Phoebus – Hey Frollo’s coming leave now,
Clopin – Ok, but let’s have a wedding first,
Phoebus – Well that’s sensible
Phoebus is a very mallable character that can be used to carter to the whims of the movie. In the Disney film he’s a male Esmeralda (think about it, they’re the same) he does everything Esmeralda does, stand for the same things, gets into the same scrapes as she does and is an agent of Quasimodo’s liberation. In book Phoebus is not that static of character, Phoebus changes in his regard for his fiancee Fleur de Lys. In the Disney movie he has a change, which was defying Frollo’s authority but from the word go he was never keen on Frollo’s politics so it was only matter of time (a day) for that insubordination to occur. Phoebus a fun character and he did prove necessary for the story that Disney was telling.
Next Character – Clopin
Tell me who your favorite character from Disney Hunchback? Just Leave a comment or just leave a comment about any old thing that you want to say about Phoebus or the Hunchback in general. Until Next Time!Follow thehunchblog