So as I’ve mentioned several times Disney takes older movies and re-makes them with their sacchrine Disney stamp. Aladdin is based off of the Theif of Baghdad 1924 and1940 and The Thief And The Cobbler. Beauty and the Beast based is off of La Belle et La Bete, though Belle is based off of Hepburn’s portayle of Jo from Little Women . And Be Our Guest uses Gustav Mahler’s Symphonie 3 First Movement for the melody. And of course Disney is based Hunchback off of the 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame with slight hints made to the Lon Chaney version in 1923. However Disney will never admit to doing this instead they do the opposite. In the DVD audio commentary, Directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and Producer Don Hahn basically criticize the 1939 version and the 1923 version. They claim that these two movies have made Quasimodo into a monster. While Lon Chaney’s version is consider to be horror, it is not, Chaney is not the horrific monster that commentary paints him as. And as Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo well Disney’s Quasimodo is far more monstrous.
Singin’ in the Rain meets King Kong Shot
Reverse King Kong Shot Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
It makes me more than a little angry that Disney uses these sources but in an commentary they debase them and then they discuss other movies that they took inspiration from Like King Kong and Singin’ in the Rain . They also mention Minster Toad’s Wide Ride and Fantasia in relation to Hellfire. It’s just annoying the way the directors and producer go on about how the brought a sense of humanity to Quasimodo that the old Hollywood failed to do.
Next Time – Conclusions
Phoebus, Quasimodo, Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Esmeralda is the most divergent character in the Disney version from the book in both looks and personality. I already talked about her personality, now let’s look at her looks.
The Disney Esmeralda looks 100% a traveler*. She has a darker complexion, dark hair, and light green eyes (with no glint). Her eyes also do not change color pending on how much light is in the space, which kind of makes them look witchy. She keeps her hair pulled back which it creates volume. This bigger hair makes her look older. When her hair is down she looks younger. Her hair also has a slight curl. Though in the middle of the epic running away from Frollo, her hair looks straight but that could just be inconsistencies in animation or the wind, take your pick. But it does look straight. However it also fair to point out that this voluminous hairstyle was on trend in the late 90s.
Her age is very vague. Most of the Disney characters have a rough age range or they just say how old they are like Ariel and Jasmine. With this shift in Disney heroines being somewhat more independent and less dreamy, they appear to be older than the typical “Disney princess” (except Tiana, I would say she is like a compromise between the archetypal Princess and the confident independent heroine of the late 90s).
The question is how old is Disney’s Esmeralda? With the age inflation that Disney implements, I’d say she most likely 22 at the youngest, which is “old” for a Disney heroine. The long and short of it is, Esmeralda is meant to be older like “she’s been around.” This is not my phasing, watch the commentary, it’s the scene where Esmeralda is helping Quasimodo from the pillory. To listen to the commentary, The DVD.
One reason why this version made her older could have been to help establish her relationship with Quasimodo as more maternal, more like a big sister than romantic. This could have made her pairing with Phoebus appear more palatable for the audience, though given a lot of bad-faith internet discourse it didn’t really work that way.
Against the original novel by Victor Hugo, Esmeralda’s looks are very different. Esmeralda is never described in graphic detail but she’s described as very beautiful frequently by many characters. Disney Esmeralda is meant to be beautiful certainly but she is never called beautiful in the movie. The closest mention to her looks is Clopin saying she’s “The Finest Girl is France.”
Esmeralda in the book is not genetically a full traveler*. Her mother is a French women and while her Father could have been a traveler, it is never actually mentioned who was her father.
Esmeralda has a golden skin tone, black hair and black eyes. Part of Esmeralda’s charm in the book is her innocence and her total unawareness of her own beauty. Disney’s Esmeralda is the complete and utter opposite; she knows her appeal, exploits it and given that quote by the director Kirk Wise that I mention earlier, I’m not sure how innocent is in the movie. So it safe to say that Disney did not use Hugo for even a basis of Esmeralda’s design.
Looking at the concept art, Esmeralda started off looking more youthful and somehow along the way she lost the youthful look. My guess the vocal inspiration turned the tables on the character design. Alas Demi’s Moore doesn’t sound youthful, at least not when the film was recording the voices. For More Concept Art of Hunchback
It’s actually not Disney’s fault that Esmeralda’s looks/acts sexy whereas Hugo’s Esmeralda did not. The fault lies in the film history of Hunchback movies.
Esmeralda has long been depicted as sexy or at least no stranger to feminine charms. Esmeralda has also been depicted by actresses who are more known for their sex appeal. Such actresses have been Stacia Napierkowska, Theda Bara, Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayak. Also Disney models their characters after the voice actor playing them, so with the choice of Demi Moore it was inevitable that Disney Esmeralda was going to be sexy and follow the line of sexy Esmeraldas.
In a featurette of the movie, Moore said she could see herself in Esmeralda’s animation. While Disney took their cues from the 1939 version, I think Esmeralda’s look was based somewhat on Gina Lollobrigida’s Esmeralda as well as Demi Moore (maybe, I can’t really tell, I haven’t seen a ton of Moore’s films discern her mannerism and/or acting style in Esmeralda’s animation.)
*Since 2021 the blog has been using the words Travelers or Nomads to convey the group of people that Esmeralda is associated with while trying to be respectful. You can read that post here. I do tend to favor the travelers usage.
In an effort to get the audience of Quasimodo’s side, Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale gave Quasimodo a gentle disposition made compete with a kind look. He has big, friendly doe eyes, a full head of red hair and wears a green tunic. Two of the more uglier factors are his big stub nose and his teeth (large teeth in the front of his mouth). I mean for Disney he’s ugly but for Quasimodo he adorable. I think Disney was afraid of making Quasimodo too ugly and risk scaring people off of seeing the movie.
Quasimodo gazing at Esmeralda
Quasimodo accepts Esmeralda and Phoebus as a couple Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
It’s also interesting to mention (and I’ll be mentioning this again) that for many characters in the movie there is not glint in the eyes. Many of the characters their eyes are just small black pupils, exception would be Esmeralda who has green irises, black pupils, and no glint. Quasimodo is one of the few who does has a sparkle in the eyes ( other are Djali (though inconsistent) and the little girl who gave Quasimodo a hug, who doesn’t have it till the final even though you see her at the beginning). Maybe this glint is indicative of innocence, an inconsistencies, or playing favorites? I dunno. I can understand why Quasimodo would have it but for Djali and little girl (only at the end) to have it and no one else, I sense a deeper reasoning here. I’m going with innocence.
Quasimodo shine in the eye Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Djali Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Little Girl Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
So how does Disney Quasimodo compare with book Quasimodo? Oh not at all. I said Quasimodo is adorable here. In the book he is not, not at all. Quasimodo is described by Victor Hugo as having a horse-shoe mouth, a small left eye with bushy red eyebrow, a right eye that’s completely hidden by a monstrous wart, uneven broken teeth with gaps that project out like tusks, callous lips, and forked chin. He was also described ” a giant who had been broken and badly put together again. Disney’s Quasimodo looks like to extent but everything about is soft and round. His mouth is normal. His eyes are both visible despite the protrusion, His hair isn’t bushy in the slightest, it’s smooth and straight and he eyebrows are slightly think but not bushy. His teeth are uneven but not like tucks. He doesn’t have callous lip or a forked chin (he hardy has either).
Illustration of Quasimodo
Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Same character and yet no comparison.
In the concept art for Quasimodo ranges all other the place. Sometime he look scary (the way he should look) and sometimes almost handsome ( he just needs a haircut, and eyebrow plucking). For More Concept Art of Hunchback
A Monstrous version of Quasimodo Concept Art Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
The closest to movie version Quasimodo Concept Art Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Jockish looking Quasimodo Concept Art Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame
Quasimodo in the scope of things is just deformed, not ugly. There are ugly people in the crowds in the movie and they don’t have the crutch of deformties for an excuse. I mean Frollo is no looker himself.