Here’s a question, why hasn’t there been a well executed and accurate version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame outside of France? Is it because it just a hard book to adapted into a film? The answer is yes and no. First, the book doesn’t have a traditional happy ending. It ends with pretty much everyone either dead or unhappy in some capacity.

Louis Boulanger's Illustration of Frollo, Esmeralda and Sachette picture image

Louis Boulanger’s Illustration of Frollo, Esmeralda and Sachette

Typically when characters die in movie it’s for one of two reasons, either they die for someone’s else sake like Jack in Titanic or they get punished for for being bad like any number of movie villains. In Hunchback we have these death with Frollo and Quasimodo but Esmeralda’s death is the tricky one. She is neither punished nor scarified for anything. She dies because she didn’t want Frollo and no one was capable of saving her. Her death is very hard to accept which is why typically she lives in film versions. There have only been two movies where she dies, neither of them are American. However if a movie did want to be true to the book and have the same ending the audience could get over it and if the movie was well executed the audience might enjoy it as well.

Gina Lollobrigida 1956 as Esmeralda picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda (1956)

But there is more to it than filmmakers not wanting to deal with the death of the leading lady as the reason. Classic literature has often been tweaked by screenwriters since it allows for them to use established characters and plots but their is no pressure from the filmgoers to make the movie in line with book. Perhaps if the Hunchback of Notre Dame had the same die-hard fan-base as Twilight The Hunger Games or even Gone with the Wind maybe we would get an accurate version.

Twilight picture image


The Hunger Games picture image

The Hunger Games

Gone with the Wind picture image

Gone with the Wind






These three movies based on popular literature more or less capture the original book or series of books whereas Hunchback movies never do. Although Hunchback does have more complexity to plot and tone than Twilight, The Hunger Games and Gone with the Wind. But if Hunchback did have the same levels of popularity within popular culture as a book screenwriters would be less compelled to be creative with the story like making Esmeralda a champion for equality, have her pray, Frollo as a judge and a cat lover, singing semi-imaginary gargoyles who tell fart jokes etc.

The Gargoyles; Hugo Laverne, Victor Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

The Gargoyles; Hugo Laverne, Victor Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney

Perhaps one day there will be a version that is well executed and accurate or at the very least captures the original mood of the book. Till then we have the “jazzy” Brolin movie to look forward to.

Josh Brolin picture image

Josh Brolin