on 21 August 2006
The Disney classics 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Bambi' are my favourites; I feel modern Disney lacks substance, when compared to the older movies. But this is possibly the best of the newer Disney offerings. Exciting and colourful, this tale never gets dull. It tells the story of the disfigured but gentle hunchback bell-ringer of Notre Dame, who has been raised by Frollo - a religious official. The hunchback Quasimodo is befriended by the beautiful gypsy-girl Esmerelda at the Festival of Fools. Both Quasimodo and dashing ex war-captain Phoebus fall in love with the feisty girl, resulting in a complicated love triangle. Frollo (the scariest Disney villain I have ever encountered) is deeply immoral and insanely religious, wishing to eliminate the outcast gypsies (whom he feel corrupt the Parisians); and hides a dark secret concerning the past of Quasimodo. It ends on a magnificent and thrilling finale. The graphics are intricately detailed; Notre Dame cathedral itself is breathtakingly beautiful. The music is rather good too. Parents be discerning when showing this to young children; this is the most dark 'adult' Disney film I have seen so far, with such painful scenes as when the townsfolk publicly humiliate Quasimodo by throwing things at him; and the cruel persecution experienced by the gypsies. There is also that dramatic scene where Frollo ironically acknowledges his lecherous desire for Esmerelda and will burn the whole of Paris down to find and kill her. In conclusion, it is a deep & thoughtful yet entertaining film which young and old alike can enjoy; it deals with many tender social issues. Definitely a keeper, watch this if you can.
Although none have truly embraced the full scope of Victor Hugo's sweeping novel (although the 1956 version comes close), there's never been a bad version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disney's 1996 version is one of the very best. It has its flaws, but it's still the studio's last great animated feature, with a visual audacity and a surprising darkness that's often breathtaking. It may opt for an even happier ending than usual, but there's plenty of real dramatic power here. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz's mostly excellent score may have the odd crowd-pleaser that lowers the tone a tad, but there's a striking and powerful grandeur of ambition to many of them - after all, who'd have expected a Disney villain to sing of his tortured sexual desire (Heaven's Light/Hellfire) and of his burning need to either sleep with the heroine or kill her? The computer enhanced crowd scenes and the sweeping three-dimensional camerawork are amazing to see, the design is superb and there's an intelligent use of colour and weather that the studio's subsequent efforts seemed to lose. Only the wiseacre gargoyle sidekicks feel out of place, although the film at least discreetly suggests that they are mere figments of Quasimodo's imagination. One of the most impressive of Disney's animated features, and certainly the most undervalued.
Although far from the excellent laserdisc special edition Disney released in the US several years ago, there are a few decent extras on the UK disc, including an alternate song and some interesting demo footage of the computer animation techniques. The Blu-ray release, typically for titles Disney regards as disappointments, is much more hreadbare: a half hour making of eaturette from the film's original release that isn't included on the DVD and a multi-language reel (though the US Blu-ray also includes an audio commentary and the direct-to-video sequel).
on 30 December 2000
My name is Jilly, age 9 and I thought the film was incredible.
A delightful cartoon adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" tells the tale of a disfigured by good hearted bellringer called Quasimodo who's mundane existence is turned " Topsy Turvy'' when he meets the beautiful gypsy dancer Esmerelda. With the aid of his three gargoyle friends ( Laverne, Victor and Hugo) Quasimodo aids Esmerelda and the decent ex-captain of the guards, Phoebus, in overcoming the evil intentions of Quasimodos guardian and the city magistrate, Frollo, who seeks to destroy all gypsies including Esmerelda by discovering the secret court of miracles.
Culminating in a breathtaking siege of the famous cathedral and a fight to the death among the turrets and balconies. 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' is a joy for all the family. This is my favourite Disney film and Quasimodo is my favourite Disney character.
on 23 November 2005
I must admit that when I started to watch the movie I was rather suspicious, because I had heard some really bad criticism. But after Clopin's opening scene finishes and you see Quasi ringing the bells, I was so enchanted by the music, the characters and the beautiful animation that I completely forgot about everything I had ever heard and I watched the rest of the movie in awe. I actually cried when Quasi gets beat up by the mob of people and I also cried in the end when the little girl strokes his face.
This movie is very enrapturing though I wouldn't recommend it to little children because of some rather dark and violent scenes. I also think that it's a lot more enjoyable if you understand the message.
on 16 August 2009
The film is by all means breathtaking. I liked it when I was younger. In my later years this has become my favourite Disney film. Although not true to Victor Hugo's book, the animation is superb and Alan Menken's score is incredible. Even though I am 21 and some would argue too old to be watching disney films, the Movie alone deserves five stars. It is one of disney's darkest films but probably all the more enjoyable for adults because of it. I don't imagine it being a favourite of younger children as some of it is genuingly quite scary. It was a book never meant to be made into a children's film and maybe it doesn't always translate well.
There is no way disney could have made it faithful to the book without getting an 18 rating. If you can forget this and take the film as a stand-alone piece, it is fantastic.
I had to rate it four stars mostly because of the lack of bonus features. Being only one disc it lacks where several other films make up. The making of feature is not half as long nor as informative as I would have hoped. It does do a piece on the missing song someday which was a lovely addition.
Disney do know how to release their movies with love and care and to me this release seemed rushed and half finished. It was originally planned in 2002 as a two-disc release but disney backed out soon after with this single disc version. No doubt to leave material for a later two disc release. According to sources a Platinum addition is expected 2013, giving the film all the attention it deserves. But if you can't wait four years this one will tide you over.
If you are just interested in the film then buy it because it is undoubtedly one of Disney's masterpieces.
In the Middle Ages, the city of Paris is ruled with an iron first by Frollo (Tony Jay), the chief magistrate. Frollo has made it his mission to destroy the gypsies. While he is doing that one night, he winds up with the baby Quasimodo. Guilted into raising the child as his own, he places Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) in the bell towers of Notre Dame and attempts to keep him hidden from the rest of the world.
Quasi gets tired of staying in the tower, however, and ventures forth during the annual Festival of Fools. It is there that he meets Esmeralda (Demi Moore), a beautiful gypsy who is actually nice to him. But the crowd quickly turns on him when they see how deformed he is. That's nothing compared to how Frollo acts toward Esmeralda, however. He attempts to get his new captain of the guard Phoebus (Kevin Kline) to arrest her. But Phoebus has other plans. When the city of Paris suddenly lies in the balance, what can Quasi do to help?
To be honest, I still have trouble believing this movie got made. Even with the attempts to lighten the storyline and change the ending, this is still an incredibly dark film. I don't understand how it missed getting the PG rating it deserved.
Now that's not to say I don't like the film. It is a powerful tale in the evils of prejudice and hypocrisy. There are eight songs, and all of them are wonderful. This is definitely Broadway caliper music. The animation looks incredible. The details are almost breathtaking at times.
But the story is so dark. Frollo becomes obsessed with Esmeralda, and his actions make the film very dark. And that doesn't even bring up "Hellfire," a song devoted to his desires for this gypsy. The imagery and words are a bit much for a kid's movie.
In an attempt to make the movie appeal to kids, three gargoyles are added to the story that act as Quasi's friends up in the tower. They do add some fun comic relief, and I like them. However, it makes the film feel a little scattered between trying to appeal to adults and kids at the same time.
This is a movie well worth watching. Adults will definitely appreciate it. However, watch it before you plop your kids down in front of it.
on 28 July 2000
In places this is slightly more scary than most Disney films, but it's so full of zest and fun that it draws you in. The theatrical beginning is well done and the animation is brilliant throughout. This Disney film has more 'depth' than most. It still has the same fairytale good-versus-bad theme running through until the traditional happy ending. It's one of my favourites and is destined to remain timeless, regardeless of anyone's opinion.
on 3 February 2010
I remember watching this film when I was about 6 years old or so and I loved it...though admittedly at that age I just loved the talking gargoyles and the 'King of fools' song xD
Now that i'm older (15) I decided to go on a 'classic disney film watching spree' and started watching all the classic disney films I owned, and this is definitely one of my favourites.
I won't waste time going over the plot, but I have to say this is definitely a film that gets better the second time you watch it, and this is why I love it so much; it's great for all ages, as it's still a highly entertaining film for kids, as the slightly darker themes will go straight over their heads xD ( I didn't understand the movie until I watched it for a second time ) and I think it's even better for older watchers, as the messages and themes are quite adult in places.
This film is very underrated and deserves much more recognition then it has, the soundtrack is incredible, for me my favourites would have to be: 'Bells of Notre Dame' and 'Hellfire', 'Hellfire' being one of the most sinister moments of the film showing Frollo's tortured soul. All the characters are very well developed and I can't really compare to the book as I haven't read it, but this is a Disney film not to be missed, and I would recommend it to all, though the messages and film in general may be wasted on younger children, and this may be why it is not as successful as other Disney films. I believe that Disney films shouldn't just appeal to kids though ;)
Over all this is one of my favourite Disney films of all time, with great voice acting that brings the characters to life, great artistic feel, meaningful storyline, and brilliant soundtrack =)
on 22 February 2009
I think that people either love or hate this film for the same reason: that it's not light, frothy Disney fare, but weighed down with a great deal of knowledge and respect for medieval Catholic culture. While the story rolls excitingly (and sometimes almost too violently) on, you get a real sense of a teeming, complex world in which the humane decency of the Archdeacon and the twisted religious mania of Frollo, the coarseness of the crowd and the grandeur of the great cathedral, could co-exist. The music is just sufficiently reminiscent of Carmina Burana without being a rip-off. This film is an answer to all those who say that Hollywood, and Disney in particular, always dumb culture down.
Those who wish the film to have stuck more closely to Victor Hugo's original, with unhappy ending - are you sure? The book is full of pre-Freud kinky sadism, and reflects nineteenth-century attitudes to women all too clearly with its nauseatingly passive heroine. The difference between Hugo's helpless Esmerelda and Disney's fiery figure reflects some real progress we can be proud of. So does the fact that today's deformed, ugly Quasimodo can end up being loved, which seemed to be too hard for Hugo to imagine.
Finally, the lyrics at their best are as witty as in the great days of Broadway. Some people say that our adult culture is becoming infantilised. It often seems quite the other way round to me, that those who want to create joyous and graceful adult art have been forced to take refuge in children's books and films. When a Disney kids' film contains the verse
'We all have gaped
At some Adonis,
But then we crave a meal more nourishing to chew,
And as you're shaped
Like a croissant is,
No question of, she's gotta love a guy like you...'
the flood of illiteracy has clearly not engulfed America just yet, or for some time to come!
on 25 May 2009
This is no doubt the greatest of all Disney movies.After Beauty and the Beast I didnt think disney could do any better until Hunchback. Dark and funny, great songs, beautiful animation,reflective and with great dialogue. Why Disney play down this film I will never understand. Its a true classic,poignant and direct in its messaging about good and evil. Its always going to be less accecable than many other standard disney films but for those willing to try you will be rewarded.