Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcast Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcast Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

I’m not strictly speaking in the interest of my own personal enjoyment or in the sense that it would give me more context but with the political and social climate in America, Hollywood or Disney really should get a new version into production.


Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara)


America right now is politically divided on many, many issues  and  a big one is the issue of immigration and refugees. In some ways it’s a complex issue mainly on the bureaucracy end  but on the side of basic human decency and the fact that America is an immigrant nation  it’s pretty simple. So how does this tie into making a Hunchback movie and the necessity of one?

Esmeralda Illustration Image picture

19th century Illustration of Esmeralda

I truly can not speak to the historical aspect of the Romani in Paris in the 15th century but the book makes it sound like Paris was a Sanctuary city. This means in a sense you could look at Esmeralda as a refugee or at the very least she is an immigrant of sorts. This is only case in versions where she is a Romani and not following the book, which is fine. I suppose they could split the different and make her half French and half Romani or Spanish since Esmeralda’s father is a complete unknown. The only hint the book offers, that I can find, is Esmeralda’s father could have been a thief that left her mother before she learned she was pregnant. Then again this information is narrated by a secondary character, so it unknown how reliable this account is.


Esmeralda and Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda defying Frollo by helping Quasimodo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

In any case the two major American versions that have Esmeralda as a Romani depicts her as an advocate for both her people and the “downtrodden” which aside from being her a good female role-model in these two versions, her being an advocate  great aspect to showcase to a film going population.


Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 The Hunchback picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda,

Also unlike some other movies that cast people regardless of their race, Hunchback should be a little more set in character’s cultural backgrounds. I heard when Rogue One was coming out there was a call to boycott the movie because of the diversity the cast, same for Star Wars The Force Awakens, which is dumb.   With Hunchback their cultural backgrounds inform the characters so aside from Esmeralda and in many cases Clopin, the rest of the cast are white Europeans which could help ease some people into the movie, especially people who wanted to boycott an iconic Space Fantasy movie series.


Gigi Radics picture image

Gigi Radics

This means the casting of Esmeralda become extremely important. I should preface that in a perfect world, anyone could play Esmeralda but we don’t and if a movie is going to characterized Esmeralda a very specific ethnic group even though the book did not, then the movie needs to cast accordingly. This is why the casting of Gigi Radics, a Hungarian singer of Romani descent would be a masterstroke of casting. Whether or not she is available or willing to play the role is a different question.  They could always cast an unknown Romani actress to take the part.  Casting an Indian or Pakistani, or Arab actress is not quite as authentic but it a step in the right direction.


Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcast Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcast Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

A new Hunchback  movie today who help shed some light on the current situation in America and recontextualize to people who may not think it about as much and ignore the news. It might even help  people who have little exposure to immigrants and refugees  put a human face on the issue instead of short sound bite.

In light of the way the 2016 Oscars acting award nominations went and with the general whitewashing of roles in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies, Esmeralda is an interesting role to discuss as her book self and her film presence are at weird odds.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda Hunchback chaney version 1923 picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda

In the book Esmeralda is presented as a Romani, and without getting it into too much, the Romani people are Ethnically different from the rest of Europe specifically France.  However Esmeralda’s backstory in the novel is that she was born Agnes to a French woman and raised by the Romani. This backstory is really only presented in two movies (three if you think the Dingo version count), those versions are the 1923 version and the 1999 Parody version albeit that version flips things around whereas she is born Esmeralda to Cubans and raised as Agnes by mean French people.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda in most movie versions of Hunchback is depicted as a full Romani, though the 1982 version  there was a throw away line that questioned her background but it went no where, so it hardly matters.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This brings us back to the topic, as Hollywood whitewashes many roles it interesting to note that in Esmeralda’s case they take role of girl who despite having dark hair and eyes  with tanned skin is for all accounts a white girl and instead makes the role one for a very specially ethnic minority and yet casts mostly white women. So far in movie versions only Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayek have looked the way the film versions theoretically want to depict the character.


Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda

While in my own naive  little world I think casting should go to right person for the right part but it’s not that simple. A lot of roles are specific to someone’s looks and background. Hollywood however does of course forget that or ignores it and has a history of awarding parts that should go to people of minorities to white actors. Like the casting  of Emma Stone in Aloha or Rooney Mara in  Peter Pan or pretty much everyone in The Last Airbender or Scarlet Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie, heck Lucy was a Akira knock-off… I digress. The list of whitewashing practices in Hollywood is long.

And as this pertain to the Oscars, actors who fall into minority seldom get nominations and seldom win. Just for example Asian actors which Indian actors fall into, Only two Actors won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Yul Brynner (1956) and Ben Kingsley (1982). Kingsley also  got a nominations in 2003. For Actress only Merle Oberon got a best actress nomination in 1935 and no one else since. For Best Supporting Actor, only Haing S Ngor has won in 1984  and only five others have been nominated, Sessue Hayakawa (1957), Mako (1966), Pat Morita (1984), Ben Kingsley (1991) and Ken Watanabe (2003). Oddly the same goes for Best Supporting Actoress with only one winner and five others nominated. The only Asian winner was Miyoshi Umeki in 1957. The five who were nominated were Meg Tilly (1985), Jennifer Tilly (1994), Shohreh Aghdashloo (2003), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Hailee Steinfeld (2010).

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

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how does this apply to Esmeralda? The Hunchback of Notre Dame as I have said before, could be one those movies made specifically to win  awards. The role of Esmeralda could be deepen which has been done in the past like in 1939 version or even the Disney version. It could be made into one those Oscar bait roles with relative ease. If that did happen given the state of Hollywood I would prefer to see an Actress who fits into the Romani look more than being a purist to the book. Either an Indian actress or Hispanic actress could fit nicely, though ideally, a young Romani actress would be ideal.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Though given Hollywood’s warped sense of itself they probably would make Esmeralda a Romani, as  is the traditional method to her character and cast a popular blonde actress.

Is there an actress you would like see play Esmeralda?


Esmeralda Smiling, Maureen O'Hara 1939 HUnchback of Notre Dame picture image

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

As many of you may already know, yesterday Maureen O’Hara died peacefully at her home in Idaho at the age of 95.

O’Hara has been hailed as the queen of Technicolor. Her filmography was very long and included some very well regarded movies like The Quiet Man (1952), How Green was my Valley (1940), and Miracle on 34th Street (1947), just to name a few, she had many.

Hunchback of Notre Dame was her hollywood debut and I maintain that it was the best movie version of Hunchback.

I do recommend reading her autobiography. It’s a really engaging read that captures her passionate fiery personality.

In her autobiography, written with longtime manager John Nicoletti, O’Hara wrote:

“When I was young, I didn’t think I was at all pretty. I was told only that I had a sulky, pouty face. Ironically, after I got to Hollywood, I resented that I didn’t get a crack at more dramatic role because I photographed so beautifully. More than anything, though, it was the way I used my eyes that caused audiences to look deep inside my characters to see what else was there.”




Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

The 1923 version staring Lon Chaney maybe considered the monster movie of the Hunchback pantheon but the 1939 have a far more scary-ish scene.

Ok, it’s not scary but it has a very dark moody tone that make it’s uneasy. As Esmeralda flee from Notre Dame after seeing Quasimodo, he stalks in the dark  narrow streets.  If we had seen Quasimodo before then so we did know what lurked in the night it would have been more scary. Of course that means we would have had the King of Fools scene so yeah that would have happened. But the dark slow-paced unsettling quality  of that makes it feel more scary than anything in the 1923 version. Though Monster Movie doesn’t equal horror but still.

Maureen O'Hara picture image

Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O’Hara played Esmeralda in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

-Her Stage name of O’Hara was forced on her to fit marquees.

-Named her only child Bronwyn after a character from How Green was my Valley.

-Did all her own stunts. In the seen in Hunchback were Quasimodo is holding her up to the crowd after saving her from hanging, O’Hara did that with a stunt man without a safety  net and it was cobblestone below. I believe in her autobiography she goes more into detail.

If you want to learn more about Maureen O’Hara you can read her autobiography ‘Tis Herself: An Autobiography. It’s a good read.  I recommend it.  


Sir Cedric Hardwicke picture image

Sir Cedric Hardwicke

Sir Cedric Hardwicke played Frollo in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

-In 1934 Sir Cedric Hardwicke was knighted, but King George V was hard-of-hearing so he missed heard his name and dubbed him Sir Cedric Pickwick

-He played King Edward IV of England in Richard III (1955) while his son Edward Hardwicke played Lord Stanley in Richard III (1995). Also it’s worth noting, that Edward Hardwicke was in the Scarlett Letter (1995) alongside Demi Moore who voiced Esmeralda in the Disney version of Hunchback.

-His favorite screen role was playing Mr Brink in On Borrowed Time  (1939).

Frollo stares at Esmeralda's chest for 15 seconds (Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Frollo stares at Esmeralda’s chest for 15 seconds, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O’Hara, 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Bonus round-  Hardwicke played a doctor in Sentimental Journey (1946) alongside Maureen O’Hara. He said this about the movie “I did nothing but look at the handsome bosom of Maureen O’Hara and listen to the murmuring of her heart through a stethoscope.” He also famously looked at her bosom in Hunchback.

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda and Edmond O'Brien as Gringoire  1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda and Gringoire getting married

The first time we see the wedding scene play out in a movie version, at least of a Hunchback movie we can actually watch, it was in the 1939 version.

Pretty much this scene is very much like the book though I would point out that Esmeralda and Gringoire never drink from the jug like they do in the 1939 movie and it’s the Duke of Egypt who presides over the affair. Both changes with drinking and Clopin are fine, I rather like the drinking from the pitcher, it’s a nice touch.

They also get a little song thrown in for funs which is also nice. Though instead of going to Esmeralda’s room, in the movie they go to the bridal chamber which makes sense as it was Esmeralda’s first night at the Court of Miracle so she probably didn’t even have a room.

The dialogue is also a little different during their wedding night but it’s on point. Though if anything is quite different it is at the end of the scene where Esmeralda seeks off because Frollo sent soldiers to find her. Boy, does he mobilize his men fast. Though I’m still not sure how she knew to seek away but whatever.

All in all this scene is solid. It captured the tone of the book but kept things a little different. Really I don’t think they could have improved it. Well maybe if they had Djali but they had different goat though I’m still not sure why.

Book 9, Chapter 4, Earthenware and Crystal

Esmeralda Maureen O'Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda Maureen O’Hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This chapter features a lot more interactions between Esmeralda and Quasimodo. He gives her a caged bird. One important interaction is Quasimodo tries to get Phoebus to come to Notre Dame to see Esmeralda. Poor Quasimodo waits around till 1am as Phoebus is at a pre-wedding party. Phoebus also doesn’t come because he believes Esmeralda to be dead. Quasimodo failing this task cause him to limit his interactions with Esmeralda. He then tries to convince her that his love for her is better than her dreams of Phoebus. He does this by singing to her and with a visual of two vases, one beautiful crystal that is cracked so the flowers are withered and one earthenware which is course and common but it retains the water leaving beautiful flowers. Esmeralda choices the wither flower from the crystal vase. You don’t have to be an English major to get the imaginary of the vase, Phoebus is the Crystal and Quasimodo is the earthenware. After that Quasimodo doesn’t interact with Esmeralda directly which is okay with but he sleeps outside her cell.

This chapter has been done in parts in movies, mainly in the Quasimodo getting Phoebus for Esmeralda. Sometimes he offers to get him like in the book and sometimes Esmeralda makes him go. The caged bird is seen sometimes. He also tries to tell Esmeralda that he loves her but can’t. This chapter also gives use the famous ” Oh, why am I not made of stone, like you.” Which is said to a grotesque image carved on a wall and not a gargoyle. I suppose gargoyles are more dramatic for a movie.

No movie that I know has done the vases. This because it relies on Esmeralda being shallow and naive and the movie versions at this point grow her up where she accepts Quasimodo as at least a friend.

All in all, it’s a good interesting chapter.

Book 9, Chapter 5, The Key to the Porte-Rouge


Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Notre Dame de Paris

Daniel Lavoie as Frollo Notre Dame de Paris

This chapter is Frollo learning that both Esmeralda and Phoebus are alive and thus is torment begins anew. He spends his time locked away and realizes he is jealous of Quasimodo. Then one night he can’t take his lust any more he head over to where Esmeralda is.

This is never done in the movie versions. If Frollo goes to Esmeralda it’s less pre-mediated or we just never see as Frollo isn’t the focus.



Book 9, Chapter 6, The Key to the Porte-Rouge (continued)


Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Derek Jacobi as Frollo & Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

In this chapter Frollo tires to force himself on Esmeralda. Esmeralda is saved when she find the whistle that Quasimodo left her in chapter 3 of book 9, Deaf. Quasimodo attack Frollo but when he sees it’s Frollo he tells Frollo to kill him with the knife but Esmeralda grabs it first. Frollo isn’t too happy now.

You do sometimes see this scene in the movie, like in 1923, 1956, 1977, and the1982. It seldom ever played out perfect though I think the 1977 version is the closest.

Book 9, Chapter 1, Delirium

Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida) and Frollo (Alain Cuny), 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda (Gina Lollobrigida) and Frollo (Alain Cuny),

This chapter is Frollo freaking out about Esmeralda’s death. He doesn’t know that Quasimodo saved her. At the end of the chapter when he sees Esmeralda walking in Notre Dame he thinks its her ghost. All and all this chapter is pretty cool and fun to read as it really just Frollo’s insanity.

Movies haven’t really tackled this one chapter. You see touches of it in the 1982 version and the 1956 version. I understand that movie would rather focus on Quasimodo and not Frollo but this chapter would be so much fun for a movie version. I t really has everything a dramatic movie could want for a director, actor, cinematographer, lighting, etc.

Someone do it!

Book 9, Chapter 2, Deformed, Blind, Lame

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda & Charles laughton as Quasimodo 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame  picture image

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda & Charles laughton as Quasimodo

In this chapter we learn a little about the history and concept of sanctuary and that it can be suspend but that rare. It also is

Esmeralda recovering her sensed that her time in jail rob her of. Quasimodo also gives her clothes food and his bed. We also learn that Djali is a-ok.

This chapter and the next one are often merged in films versions. Though movie favors the last bit of this chapter with Quasimodo’s interactions with Esmeralda and just have it go into the next chapter with one scene.

Book 9, Chapter 3, Deaf

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda & Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo, 1997 The Hunchback  picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda & Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo,

Yeah, this chapter is in like every Hunchback movie version, pretty much. It’s the first conversation between Esmeralda and Quasimodo, about why he saved her and how to talk to him, you know the drill.

But you know it’s a lovely meaningful chapter. I have no complaints. Movies tend to do this chapter well enough even if it’s at the expense other chapters/scenes.

At its core the Hunchback of Notre Dame is a drama but that  hasn’t stop people from making it into a  happy children story about an ugly ducking, social commentary, a comedy and it was almost was a jazzy action-adventure (prove me wrong Brolin and make it).

But what other genres could a Hunchback version be and how would the story have to change to satisfy the genre tropes.

Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O'Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Moodiness Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Horror– This one is so easy, I’m more than surprise no one has bother to make a more horror-y or at least creepy version since the hallmark film is a “monster’ movie.

There is a movie called the Hunchback of the Morgue which has elements in common with Hunchback and Frankenstein but I haven’t  seen it as of yet.  It sounds terrible,  also I’m fan of gory films.


Phoebus Rallies the People Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus Rallies the People Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Action-Adventure– I know I mention this one already, but it could work I think. The plot would have to changed a lot though. I think the only method to make this genre work is some kind of treasure hidden in Notre Dame which kind of was done but not really. Notre Dame’s treasure that was Frollo’s motivation in the Secret of the Hunchback but it wasn’t an action-adventure movie, it hardly a movie.

But Hunchback isn’t devoid of action so they could just amp that up and looting the cathedral was part of allure of the attack of it by the Court of Miracles. So it could really work.

Danielle Dumont as Fleur de Lys, 1956 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Danielle Dumont as Fleur de Lys, 1956 Hunchback of Notre dame

Romanic Comedy– Groans. Hunchback as a chick flick might be a tough sell but  maybe. I dunno. It would have be very light hearted and almost  parody. Maybe Hunchback should stay clear of this one.

Garou as Quasimodo Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo from Notre Dame de Paris

Musical – Well there have been musical versions but not one from a stage show. I personally love the idea of a Notre Dame de Paris film version but I’m sure it would get messed up.

Maybe they could Jukebox musical, those are easy and people like them enough. Can’t you just see Quasimodo singing “I would do anything for love,” the thing writes itself.

Melody, a.k.a Not Esmeralda in Jail awaiting death, Enchanted Tales, Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Melody, a.k.a Not Esmeralda in Jail awaiting death

Fantasy – Just add magic and stilted dialogue, easy.

Phoebus and Esmeralda get comfortable (Maureen O'Hara, Alan Marshal) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Phoebus and Esmeralda, Maureen O’Hara, Alan Marshal 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Film Noir– Everyone seem to want to overly sexualize Esmeralda anyway so just go for it and make her a full-on Femme Fatal, you know you want to Hollywood.

Quasimodo singing Heaven's Light Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Quasimodo singing Heaven’s Light Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Kaiju– No, No, No but the image of 100 foot Quasimodo destroying Tokyo is very silly probably too silly.


Do you have any suggestions for different genres for Hunchback? Leave it in the comments along with how to change Hunchback to fit the genre.