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If you like the 1977 version, I understand. I get the appeal of it. As of now it is the most book accurate movie version that exists. But being book accurate does not necessarily make for a good movie.
Accuracy to the source material can’t hide that this version is dull. From the sets, to the cinematography, to the depictions of the characters; everything is underwhelming.
Even when I first saw this movie is my early Hunchback obsession days, I thought this version was a Feast of Snores.
The good news is that I don’t think this version was out to be a seminal version. How could it be when they don’t even have even a model for Notre Dame? Or any exterior sets. It was just a version made for TV with a limited budget. I don’t think the bar was terrible high on this version. They did the best they felt like with their resources and got out another version of Hunchback.
Would I recommend you watch this? If you’re some weird Hunchback completionist, like I try to be, then yes but you might get bored like I do every single time I watch this version. And for the purposes of this review series that was a lot mostly because I forgot a lot of it even with repeat viewings. Follow thehunchblog
Perhaps it’s mean to really be that judgmental towards the sets in this version of Hunchback. After all this is a BBC made for TV two part miniseries from the late 70’s, and based just on the look and the fact that they used a painting for exterior shots of Notre Dame, it points to them just not have any budget for sets.
As it stands this movie looks like it was shot on a single soundstage that was dressed to fit the scene, more like a play but necessity is the mother of invention so we can and will judge like the cold-hearted judgmental bitch critic we wish we were. Honestly, I started out this review wanting to go easy on this movie for its sets but then I watched it again.
The sets are a awash of dull dark browns and ashy grays. There is not much color to these sets. This could be an attempt to showcase the urbaness of medieval Paris but just comes off as boring, like the rest of the movie and what this reviews series as devalued into. How many ways can I articulate this movie is dull? Turns out I don’t need to the sets do it for me.
Let’s look at the first set of the movie, the place where Gringoire has his play performed, it a stage with a carpet on it, some chairs, some candles holder and what look like stone frames. The walls, or a dropcloth, which are really far back are painted in red tones. Now I always assumed that this was an interior BUT now that I look at the set and consider it more this is supposed to outside space given the red background and the stone frame things. But given that I just can’t really tell, how effective is this set at conveying the where this scene takes place?
I don’t think the sets are badly made, they look like they were well executed and they look competently constructed but given how dark everything looks and that the lighting isn’t helping you can’t really tell. Everything just fades into mediocrity. Follow thehunchblog
Ultimately, there is not that much to say about this version’s treatment of Phoebus. He is book-accurate. He’s a soldier and a slut, that’s it for his characterization. He makes it clear he’s only marrying Fleur de Lys for her money though they are well suited for each our but that could just be the actor’s chemistry.
That’s really all there is to say on this version of Phoebus.
Jehan is this version gets a lot of screen time because he actually has a functional role within the narrative. He is a plot exposition machine, if something is in need of explanation he is there to explain it to the viewer. Like how The Pope of Fools is crowned and Quasimodo’s deaf judge as well the implication what that means to the Parisian justice system which he doesn’t think highly of.
Jehan also in his capacity for explaining is a bit of philosopher in this version, more so than Gringoire. He has this whole speech on storming Notre Dame for the “People” as it just as excuse for people to horrible things in the pursuit of wealth.
He also doesn’t join the Court of Miracles, he just joins in impulsive as they are in the act because it looks like fun and the promise of treasure before he unceremonious stab by a soldier.
All in all Jehan is in keeping with his book counterpart as he is Frollo’s leech of a younger brother. He does has more of a role in this versions but he also means less to Frollo in terms of affection. Frollo just seem annoyed by his brother all the time and Jehan even mention that Quasimodo was a somewhat replacement brother. So Jehan has jealousy for Quasimodo for his brother’s affection.
Jehan’s character is never at the forefront of these adaptations so there is less expectation of the character, he’s not important and quite unlikable so while in this version he is in keeping with book he at least entertaining in this version.
In many ways this version of Gringoire is on point with the book. He does pretty all the action in does in the book with the same attitude. He has a high opinion of himself with regards to his work, he does want Esmeralda but backs off when he rebukes with awkward attempt at seduction, he cowardice about dying for Esmeralda, he doesn’t want to die in her place. Although he didn’t steal Djali, would have been easy for him to do but he doesn’t. In fact he pretty damn callous in that scene since Esmeralda is begging not to leave and he like “laters.”
In fact this Gringoire is very callous at the end of the movie. After Gringoire makes off with Djali we don’t hear from him again but we hear that he went on to write tragedies, so happy ending for him. This version seeks to give the viewer closure on Gringoire, so after Frollo and Esmeralda die, Gringoire looks around at their bodies in the square and he says “And only I spared to tell the tale” then he smiles. At first before he says that line he does seem a little sad but the smiles after the line is said. It gives some credence to the story but it makes Gringoire look unlikable in this version. It does beg the question, was Gringoire unlikable in the book?
I’d say no. He was fairly relatable. He didn’t want Esmeralda to die but he didn’t want to die either plus he had no idea what Frollo’s motivation were regarding Esmeralda. But it’s amazing how that one line that the movie adds in to give Gringoire an ending made him look like such a jerk. It’s not even the line itself it that smile and the fact that right after said smile he says “there is a god in heaven.” Such a massive jerk-face.
Is there anything good about this version? And don’t say adherence to the book, many Hunchback versions adhere to the plot so they don’t have to add anything else to make it good for a visual medium. Follow thehunchblog
This version of Esmeralda is baffling. It’s neither good or bad. It’s super boring though. This Esmeralda hits all the marks of the plot that this version is going for; she is a gypsy dancer who likes her goat and Phoebus and doesn’t like Frollo very much. She doesn’t fear him like in the book so he is really a second thought.
This version also tries to go for the charming, doe-eyed, innocence Esmeralda, which is not very convincing. Gina Lollobrigida was also unconvincing with her lines about innocence but she had more interest and charisma. It’s just hard to separate this Esmeralda from her actress, as she is styled in a very 70’s style, her costume doesn’t look very in character, more on that later, and again she is gypsy being played by a white woman. If her name was Melody it would make the some amount of impact. I don’t feel Esmeralda’s character even though that is what being presented. More like a wax fruit than the real stuff.
It the same issues that the 1982 version had with Lesley-Anne Down, except there she was fearful and didn’t like dancing. That’s not a positive it just makes the role more the movie’s version and therefore different. This Esmeralda does have nothing that separate her from her book persona and because of the gap in the execution there is nothing there, again it’s wax fruit when instead of actual fruit. She says the lines and there nothing believable or convincing about it. It’s a very boring and dare I say by the book, No it’s like act by numbers.
There are some scene where she is believable but it’s mostly when she is being playful, like the scene with Gringoire but that is really it. It’s just boring depiction.
I think they best way to showcase this this version of Esmeralda is go watch her introduction scene when she is dancing. The camera spends more time on shots of ugly extras than her dancing. The director would rather focus on extras than the woman that all the male characters obsess over. Follow thehunchblog
The poll is closed and the chosen version is the 1977 version. This maybe the last “big” movie version I have left to review till hopefully another movie version gets made (it’s long overdue at this point).
The 1977 version, like the 1982 and the 1997 version, was made as a TV movie and again like the 1982 version it was made from British TV. It was directed by Alan Cooke and the screenplay was writer by Robert Mueller. It stared Warren Clarke as Quasimodo, Michelle Newell as Esmeralda and Kenneth Haigh as Frollo.
So why did it take me so long to get to this version? Was a saving it because it’s amazing? Or is it amazingly shitty? The answer is it either but I hate it! It’s so boring despite it being THE MOST ACCURATE ONE!
Side Note – This version is also dated as 1976 but I’l just go with 1977.Follow thehunchblog
It’s been announces that Universal is adding Hunchback and Phantom to their own Universal Universe monster movie franchise a.k.a Dark Universe. In case you don’t know it’s Universal answer to the in-universe movies like Marvel and DC. This news comes out days before The Mummy hits theaters.
The 1923 version of Hunchback and 1925 version of Phantom were the movies that kicked off the monster crave but they are a little different than the other movies. For one thing they are not supernatural creatures who are “monsters.” They are both deform dude who fall in love. We can only speculate as to what direction the movies take them.
Personally I have seen at thee other Hunchback movies fail to get off the ground or in development hell. So until there is more information I won’t get too excited but it’s hard not to has there hasn’t been a major Hunchback movie since 1999 if you want to count the French parody. And if you don’t since Disney’s 1996 movie.
Considering the studio and the in-universe movies set-up, this will very likely get made, unless The Mummy tanks at the Box-office. No word on when it will be release so that Max Ryan version could come out first. IMDB still says its in pre-production but IMDB isn’t reliable. RIP Josh Brolin’s Jazzy version.
Also I like Phantom too.
This King is based on the 1939 version of King Louis but he is King Henry. My mind wants to do mental loops to make sense of it but the process isn’t worth it. Why did this version not set the story in 1482? Did they REALLY not even look at the book? Did they just guess the year but fact check the monarch? I mean they were off by 117 years! The Printing Press is not all that minding blowing at that point like it was in 1482 when the damn story was set and it wasn’t a huge thing in book. The 1939 version made it a big deal to cast a theme of modernity.
Anyway off on a tangent but that year thing is just so stupid. The King in this version named Henry and is really just Louis from the 1939 version. He like modern things, pretty girls and taking baths. There isn’t too much to him even though the animators and the screenwriter seem to like him more than the main characters.
Padre Jean-Paul is the good virtuous priest that is often seen in Hunchback versions that have a non-priest Frollo. Like in the 1939 version when Frollo confesses that Esmeralda is innocent and wants forgiveness, the Priest doesn’t give Frollo absolution till he admits Esmeralda’s innocence. For some reason this version uses Spanish when addressing him. There is no reason for it and asking for logic is futile so whatever, just call him Padre even though he works in the most iconic Cathedral in France.
There is also a Judge and an Archdeacon person but they are authoritarian types who don’t matter but they get a stupid honorable mention.
Clopin does nothing in this version, if they hadn’t said his name no one would have known it was him I have to mention him howver because just look at this guy. He looks like Disney’s Phoebus. It’s uncanny.
This version spends a lot of animation on this nameless Juggler. At first thought that it was to pad out the run time with repeat animation but that is too logical. After watching this version a few times too many I figured it all out, the Juggler is behind it all. He is the Palpatine of this version. He is the one who cursed Quasimodo with his deformity and inability to use pronouns. He is the one who bewitched Frollo into being obsessed with Esmeralda. He the one who is behind people being mean to the Gypsy, sowing the seeds of hostility even though the King seems like he progressive type. And arguably the most evil thing he is behind are those fake French accents the character use. Surely this is the face of all evil. Follow thehunchblog