Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Quasimodo d’El Paris is a movie that I as a blogger of Hunchback of Notre Dame, appreciate more than I enjoy. In the scope of all the the different versions this one is more divergent in tone and style and yet it gets so many things right. It’s clear that the people working on this movie liked and understood the source material and were not out to make money off the Disney movie or to win accolades. I don’t think there will ever be another modern comedy version  of the Hunchback.

Technically, there isn’t anything majorly wrong with this movie. I would say the pacing is not that great. It does get boring in parts, for example the end drags on forever but nothing is super wrong with it on a fundamental level.   Is it a great movie? No. Is one of the best versions of Hunchback? That is debatable but I would say it’s in the upper middle, it a solid B maybe. I would say if you’re not a fan of Hunchback is isn’t the movie for you. If you’re a person who takes Hunchback as the serious piece of tragedy that the book is, this movie isn’t for you. But if you like Hunchback and French comedies than, yeah, you may enjoy this version or at least appreciate the concept and intent of this version.

The Next version is the first version that I didn’t see prior to starting this blog (The Madeline and Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes and Disney musicals not withstanding). I’m scared people, very scared.

Also the blog is going back to posting three days a week.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

Do you know the old saying Dying is easy, Comedy is hard? That is so very, very true because what makes people sad is very universal but comedy differs person to person country to country, culture to culture.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

The French defiantly have their own style of humor. First off the like puns a.k.a witty use of their language. The French love their language. Now my command of French is terrible so I can’t say if they use any Puns in this movie. If you want a witty Pun loving French movie I would HIGHLY recommend Ridicule.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

The style of French humor that  Quasimodo d’El Paris uses the most it would be more cruel mockery directed at other people. Basically insulting people in over the tops ways. This style of perfectly suited for Hunchback since Quasimodo is an easy target. But the don’t just target him, after all Esmeralda can’t dance.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

There is also the just plain excessive exageration, which is also a form of humor in other cultures notably in Asian ones. Frollo has a weird sense of exaggeration since he so dead-pan but very over the top about it. I sort of love that style of humor but it a weird on to pin down. I really like the dead pan devilry of “Let’s party”

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

The humor of Quasimodo  d’El Paris is very French in style so it’s understandable why other people may not like it but it fit the characters and the style of parody.

Vincent Elbaz as Phoebus, Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda & Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo Quasimodo d'el Paris picture image

Vincent Elbaz as Phoebus, Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda & Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo

Esmeralda wears Red, Grrrrrr, now that’s out of our system we can move on.  Quasimodo d’El Paris uses a very old but readily easy to red color style, characters you are meant to sympathize with I.E like are all in warm colorful tones while the other less likable characters are in stark colors or black and white. This isn’t like a super hard and fast rule as with the example of Esmeralda/Agnes.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

As Agnes she wears white. I suppose you could simply make the conclusion that the rich people wear the stark colors and the poorer soul wear colors. While I’m on the subject of Esmeralda, the red doesn’t bother me as much in this movie’s case. For one reason she is not a Romani where that color has negative connotations. In this movie she is a Cuban and while I don’t know the Cuban’s stance of the color red I can say that  the red triangle in their flag stands for equality, fraternity and freedom, none of which are bad things. Second Esmeralda is a lot more free-spitted and doesn’t have that purity she had in the book. And lastly, if you watch this movie and I mean REALLY watch you can see other Cuban ladies wearing the same outfit. It’s like this red dress is standard issue in the Court of Miracles.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

It’s not just the characters that are set in the warmer tones, Notre Dame a.k.a the Cathedral of El Paris has a  more of an orange hue. The actual Notre Dame has a cooler taupe color while the movie’s Cathedral  is slightly warm in color. It’s not a dramatic difference of color but it’s notability in your mind.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo

Quasimodo also wears warm colors, mostly orange but some times blue. The point is he wears colors. Likable characters and places get happy colors and not nice people get no colors. Though Frollo is traditionally suppose to be in black.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

Just a side note about Frollo, his facial hair. This is the first time Frollo gets a any type of facial hair.  Oddly this type of facial hair is called a “Soul Patch.” It’s funny because he’s a priest trying to save people’s soul. It does make him look more sinister too. Otherwise his overall look is closest to Sir Cedric Hardwaicke from 1939 version, which is the standard Frollo movie look.

 

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Unlike most every other version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, this one misses the Notre Dame. Instead we have El Paris and its by all accounts nameless cathedral. Now is it ultimately important that Notre Dame isn’t in the movie? I would say no, it’s not. Just because Notre Dame inspired the story it doesn’t change the fact that this movie is a parody but it is a little vexing that that cathedral really doesn’t have a name, Cathedral of El Paris really isn’t much of a name.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

In this movie the Cathedral is little more than a backdrop, half the time you really forget the movie takes place in the church, It’s either Quasimodo’s bedroom or  Frollo’s pad/ creepy lair. Any sense of the Church’s majesty jut isn’t there.

Then there is El Paris itself or The Paris. If there is some joke I’m not getting because my knowledge Spanish and French is limited at best than I concede it, I don’t understand the joke. But there is little to understand about El Paris as it seems normal except that Cuban population seems to live in restaurant. Really, I’m more confused about where the city is located. I would guess somewhere in Europe but who knows. It just not located in Cuba.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Setting is a big point in any Hunchback version and here in this more they could have made it bigger point of interest as it’s a parody but all they did was give Quasimodo a childish bedroom and Frollo some weird decorated rooms.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

I find this version of Esmeralda very interesting. First and foremost they combined her with Fleur de Lys as well as reversing her backstory. Instead of a little French girl named Agnes who grows up with Gypsies and the name Esmeralda, she is instead a Gypsy or in this movie’s case a Cuban born Esmeralda and grew up Agnes as the Governor’s  daughter.  It’s her roles as the rich people’s daughter and fiancee to Phoebus that gives her her Fleur de Lys duo role.  Also it makes Phoebus look spectacularly dumb that he can’t recognize her when she is more free as Esmeralda than as complain-i-pants Agnes.

Mélanie Thierry as Esmeralda/Agnes and Axelle Abbadie as Mme Le Gouverneur, Quasimodo d'el Paris, picture image

Mélanie Thierry as Esmeralda/Agnes and Axelle Abbadie as Mme Le Gouverneur, Quasimodo d’el Paris

That being said Esmeralda/Agnes has a duo personality. As Agnes she is treated like a child and as such she prone to complain and be unhappy. As Esmeralda she doesn’t have that constraint so she act freer and a lot more in control. She doesn’t act sexy but her very found identity does make her seem more free-sprited and seems to attract more men to her. She does still complain but does tries to rally the Cubans to fight social injustice and tries to get Quasimodo to return to his parents. She wants to help Quasimodo because she feels guilty that she was swap with him as children, the parents are just terrible.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Esmeralda is someways doesn’t come off as a parody but she is in fact probably the smartest character, which compared to her book characterization is a parody since Esmeralda’s naivety and shallowness makes her seem less smart. In this movie she calls Quasimodo out for being in love with her for her looks and says it’s the same as people judging him for being ugly.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Also speaking of parody, girl can’t dance. Quasimodo asks her to dance, she obliges and proceeds to dance awkwardly. Quasimodo, unsatisfied says she can’t dance and thought she would dance better. She just laughs it off saying something like  “I don’t see why I would dance well.”

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

This version is also one of the few versions, and the only version that isn’t a cheap cartoon, where Quasimodo and Esmeralda get together at the end. I do think it was REALLY rushed that Esmeralda loves him, could be the version I watched, I don’t know but it’s like Quasimodo saves her from Frollo’s cement tub and BOOM, she knows it’s love. Quasimodo still doesn’t say what her likes about her but she is the one who sees his inner beauty and will have to get used to his hunch, bald patch, and weird pointed teeth.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

 

I could get mad that another Esmeralda is wearing red but since this movie is comedy/parody, I’m giving it a pass.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

Frollo in book is a repressed guy who has no experience dealing with women. As a devote man of god and science he value his purity and prides himself as being above the rest. His madness come out of his devotion. This can be said for Frollo in Quasimodo d’El Paris though in this movie Frollo is Bat-shit crazy. He is insane.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

What he does is murder women and turns there bodies in to gargoyle to adorn the church. He thinks these women are unhappy and this makes them happy.  He is not delusional he actually believes this is what his mission is, he even has an impressive and comedically over-the-top murder rig lair. This could be the plot of some dark gritty movie and not a comedic Hunchback movie.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

However given that this is a comedy Frollo is comedic. He really does embody the weird, and I mean weird comedic tone of the movie which is a cross of understated and over-the-top. You would this those styles don’t go together but oddly they do. I do want to discuss the humor more but three parts that illustrate this duality of humor are Frollo wishing Quasimodo Happy Birthday. He says Party time with a big gesture and a monotone expression, when he preaching the “Lord” message to the prostitutes, and when Quasimodo buries Frollo in the sand with only his head sticking out, actually the whole of the trip to beach should count.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

Howver the bigger question is how is Frollo at being Frollo. A point in this version of Frollo’s favor is that this is the only version where his and Quasimodo is closer to what it was more like in the book and by that I mean they like each other. So many version Frollo seems to hardly even like Quasimodo. In this version, Frollo likes Quasimodo nearly to obsession. He kisses hims calls him his baby, teaches him, builds up Quasimodo’s deadliness to protect him, busts him out of jail and he is totally ok with Quasimodo killing him. Like it’s nothing at all.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda & Richard Berry as Frollo

Speaking of obsession, I do feel like Frollo’s obsession with Esmeralda is more of an after-thought. I mean he is already murdering women, he already has an outlet for his repression of sexual desires.  He does seem to like Esmeralda more and even want her to join him in his quest of murdering women. At this point Frollo says verbatium lines from the books. The lines are from ‘the tomb or my bed’ speech he gives her. While I do like it when Frollo gets to say his book lines, they felt rather forced, I don’t believe this Frollo would say these things or even believe those word, they felt out of character. Also another weird out of character mark for Frollo is his name. Yes it’s Frollo but his first name is Serge and not Claude. Why?

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d’El Paris

There is another aspect of this Frollo that is worth noting, he has a lot of weird phallic imagery associated with him. First of his middle finger. Frollo gives the finger  A LOT during this movie. Mostly the finger is a “Fuck you” but in Ancient times is was symbol for intercourse. Frollo is not JUST  giving the finger to people, his middle finger is also concealing a blade, another bit of phallic imagery. It does end there however, Frollo also has a pet eel. Other than more phallic imagery I don’t know what this means.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

As he stands to book Frollo, this Frollo falls short especially with regard to his all-consuming lust for Esmeralda. It never really felt like it was a super big issue for him. In fact he really goes after Esmeralda because he wants to get Quasimodo out of jail and it was  revenge on her parents angle. So the lust really isn’t there as much as it could have been or should have been. In the scope of the movie hover his comedic insanity is fun to watch even though he is a mass murder.

Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo

I do have to give Richard Berry props for keeping both his middle finger very straight and up nearly the entire movie.

 

 

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo

We have seen a lot of different characterizations of Quasimodo. Every adaptations changes him to suits their unique needs for their version of the story.  He has been morose, sad, naive, a bookworm, a Disney princess and even an emo  but Quasimodo d’El gives us a very new take on Quasimodo, unapologetically childish.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo  Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

Quasimodo in this version gets a more fleshed out back story. Like the case of the abysmal Enchanted Tales, which will forever haunt me, he is NOT born deformed. Instead he was born to rich mean people and Clopin cursed him on the day of his baptism. Basically his deformities are rooted in his awful parents dropping him face side down and throwing him agiast a wall. Then they abandon him and switch him with for pretty Esmeralda. Quasimodo is then brought to the cathedral where he is reared by Frollo.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

The plot of this movie really needs Quasimodo to be childlike and innocent as this makes people care for him on a subconscious level and so he himself is not aware that the “play’ he does with Frollo is actually murder. It’s actually rather clever.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

However there is a massive trade off. In book, the cathedral was everything to Quasimodo, it was his world till Esmeralda but this version the cathedral is more like a jungle-gym, a plaything. He just has fun playing around it. Also there is no depth to this Quasimodo but to the movie’s credits it knows this fact. The film calls him out for just thinking Esmeralda is pretty and doesn’t know her  much like the way he is treated but in reverse.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo  Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

So is this version of Quasimodo a bad one? Yes and No. I think for the movie’s plot and concept he works but as a Quasimodo there is no depth or development. He is  just very, very childish.

 

 

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo  Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo

Quasimodo d’El Paris is a hard movie to sell. It’s a comedic modern re-telling of a tragic romantic-period book. The styles and tones are in opposition to each other. That is not to say there isn’t some silly scenes in the book but at the end of the day The Hunchback of Notre Dame is not a happy silly story. So what is the plot of this movie?

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo  Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Richard Berry as Frollo

Basically Quasimodo d’El Paris takes on a fairly simple story with some aspects of the book plot woven in. Very quickly, in a place, I’m guessing a Town, called El Paris there have been a slew of murders on women. People blame the Cubans a.k.a the outsiders but then they suspect the hunchback in the bell-town, Quasimodo. Quasimodo is really just an accessory to the murders as he just assists unknowingly. The real murder is Frollo, his care-taker. Frollo is doing these murders for the people’s savalation or something and hiding the bodies in gargoyle statues.  Frollo is really just bat-shit crazy in this movie.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

This is a hard plot to really analyze because it’s secondary. The whole of the movie is a gimmick, a novelty. I don’t even mean that in a bad way. It’s a silly modern Hunchback version, that’s its concept. The murder plot really just facilitates the Hunchback points and to be honest it gets confused towards at point like at the end. Like Quasimodo has Esmeralda in the Cathedral protecting her against her will, Frollo wants her, plus the the police outside want Esmeralda and Quasimodo but Frollo is protecting Quasimodo but wants him to give up Esmeralda. It’s just a little weird as the movie has present it, which could be the fault of editing.

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo & Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

I don’t hate movie, I’m more confused by it, in terms of the style, humor and its take on the characters which was always the heart of the story.  So let’s just leave the plot behind since there was too much too it outside the hunchback bullet points and get to characters.

Next Time Quasimodo

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo  Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Patrick Timsit as Quasimodo

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I more than likely will discuss the Hunchback modernization later, as in what things worked and what didn’t. Though in all honestly I think a lot of the things the tweaked to bring it in to a modern setting did work.

 

 

Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Quasimodo d’El Paris

The winner for the next adaptation to be review was Quasimodo d’El Paris. For those of you who have never heard of this version, Quasimodo d’El Paris is a French Comedic Parody of The Hunchback of Notre Dame that came out in 1999. It takes place in the fictitious of El Paris and instead of Gypsies, it the Cubans. The place is a bit different to fit into a modern setting but some aspects of the story are very close to book.

The movie was directed, written and staring Patrick Timsit, which enters it into the realm of a passion/vanity project which is on point with other adaptations or would-be adaptations.  Do this make it a bad movie? Let’s find out!

 

Next time; The Plot

Richard Berry as Frollo 1999 Quasimodo d'El Paris picture image

Richard Berry as Frollo 1999 Quasimodo d’El Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank everyone who voted in the poll. Also I’m continuing just posting only of Tuesdays with a single casting post on a Wednesday, though random posting can occurs if I feel like it.  Also if you would like to make a suggestion for a Hypothetical casting, leave a comment.  I alway solve getting suggestions.