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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Actors: Demi Moore, Tom Hulce
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Musicals & Performing Arts, Animation
G     2002     1hr 31min

Inspired by Victor Hugo's classic novel, Disney brings the heroic adventures of Quasimodo, the gentle and lonely bell ringer of Notre Dame, to spectacular life. This critically acclaimed Disney masterpiece is an "uplifting...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Demi Moore, Tom Hulce
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Musicals & Performing Arts, Animation
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Animation, Musicals, Animation
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Animated,Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/19/2002
Original Release Date: 06/21/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 06/21/1996
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 66
MPAA Rating: G (General Audience)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Disney's Best - a Miracle of a Movie!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 10/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A risky wedding of wholesome classic animation, to adult and often dark-themed material. The risk paid off and the result is one of the greatest achievements of Disney Studios.

The animation here is first rate and the entire thing is shot like a live-action film with some incredible long shots, great theatrical panning and even at one point, during Quasimodo's song "Out There" a realistic camera flare (I did a double take the first time I saw it!) Hunchback is filled with all sorts of great "tricks" like this. Lighting effects here are nothing short of magnificent - often subtle they sometimes change in an instant dramatically altering the mood of the piece. Frodo's demonic song "Hellfire" is perhaps one the most sinister and frightening moments to emerge from Disney and the animators let loose.

The prologue to the movie alone is a minor masterpiece and, like Beauty and the Beast, marvelously prepares us for the whirlwind of a story to take place.

The complaints about the singing and dancing gargoyles Victor, Hugo and Laverne, are simply wrongheaded. I read the Hugo classic too, and know they're not in there. What the complainants fail to realize is these gargoyles live only in Quasimodo's imagination. He invented these companions to ease an otherwise tortured, lonely, friendless life. The culmination of all of this becomes obvious in the spectacular song "A guy like you" which finishes with pigeons flying and hearts and banners and ribbons and Quasimodo being celebrated and then BAM immediately upon the conclusion of the final notes, the room becomes the same dark, dank, splintering tower filled with relics, junk and heartbreak. It's one of the movie's most shattering effects.

While deserved praise goes to the animators and crew, the voice talent here is, in my opinion, Disney's very best. Tom Hulce goes to the very soul of Quasimodo and gives a performance that is as poignant and shattering as anything he has done (Hulce also happened to be the best Hamlet I've ever seen.) Certain lines ("I am a monster, you know") will ring in my ear forever. Hulce has a beautiful voice and renders "Out there" with such abandon and vigor it makes my hair stand on end. In the quiet "Heaven's light" (which sequences into a stunning shot of the bells frantically ringing the opening theme), Hulce brings a fragility to such lines as "no face as hideous as my face, was ever meant for Heaven's light" that only a heart of stone would not be moved. Switching from pathos to rage, Hulce lets us feel the hidden rage and danger that this character also possesses. It is a truly remarkable performance.

Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tony Jay, Paul Kandel - and the rest of the cast all sound at the top of their game creating wonderful and vivid characters.

Alan Menkin and Stephen Schwartz get to the heart of the matter with score and songs - a sound - that are as integral a part of the telling of this story as the animation and voices.

Hunchback is a miracle of a movie!
chriscomiccool | Salisbury, MD United States | 09/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"5 stars and 1000 words aren't enough to tell you how great this movie is! "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is truly Disney's greatest triumph. It has everything: the most spetacular animation, the strongest characters, the most complex story, and the best music. Okay, so it may not be appropriate for little kids, big deal. When was the last time you heard a Disney employee say they were making a movie for little kids, anyway? Think about it. Just the movie's animation is enough of a reason to give it five stars. Almost everything, from the statues around the cathedral, to the city errupting in flames, to a sunset seen from Notre Dame's roof, to the church's interior, is absolutly astonishing. It invites you to just jump into the screen and visit 15th century Paris, and the trip is a stunning feast for the eyes. I can't believe it's all on paper and/or computer screen.Living in this world are some of Disney's strongest characters (did I mention that already?). The audience can truly root for the three heros. Quasimodo is Disney's best guy, plain and simple. His goal starts out simple enough: he wants a day of freedom. However, it becomes far more complex after he has fallen in love. It is then when he shows the courage to give his all for another, and the strengh to sacrifice his happiness for hers. Oh gosh, when he sings the heartbreaking "Heaven's Light" about his love for Esmeralda, and the possobility that she might love him back, you will be absolutly moved. Then when the song is repeated as he watches Esmeralda and Phoebus share a passionate kiss, you may very well cry. As for Esmeralda, she is one of Disney's most intruiging heroines. She never hesitates to stand up for what's right, and never hesitates to help someone in need (to say nothing that she never hestitates to kick soldiers.)However, her true personality is revealed in an absolutely beautiful scene where she sings "God Help The Outcasts," a wonderful prayer of hope and selflessness. I still get choked up whenever I hear that song. The only thing about Esmeralda that I really don't understand is why she prefers Phoebus to Quasimodo (I don't think anyone really wants to say "Well he's got a straight back! So of course she prefers him!") As for Phoebus, he (thankfully) got the expected Disney makeover from the wicked guy in the book to a likable soldier with a heart and a conscience. I give the guy thumbs up just for that, but there's more. He refuses an order to kill innocent people, almost getting his head cut off in the process, but setting a positive example for today's boys who might become tomorrow's soldiers (and I desperatly hope tomorrow's soldiers will have better consciences than today's.)I won't repeat what other reviewers said about Frollo, but I will say that he is Disney's most intruiging villian. Deep down, he knows what he's doing is wrong, but he can't face it, so he struggles to convince himself that what he's doing is right. Isn't that how most people will carry out wicked deeds? Oh, and when Frollo sings "Hellfire," about his burning desire for Esmeralda, shivers go down your spine. No, really. Alan Menken outdid himself with the music for this film. From the spellbinding opening song "Bells of Notre Dame" to the closing credits ballad "Someday," the songs are top-notch, and the score adds a layer of depth to the movie (you'll see what I mean if you read what the Latin lyrics mean in the booklet that comes with the soundtrack.) I still can't believe the Oscar people picked "That Thing You Do" over "Someday" for a Best Song nomination. For that matter, I can't believe HUNCHBACK failed to get a Best Picture slot. "Beauty and the Beast" was nominated, but not this! Sometimes I don't know what those guys are thinking.I'd like to go on like this, but I'm running out of space. Trust me, this movie is wonderful. By the time it reaches it's uplifting ending, you'll have witnessed a glorious landmark in Disney history, and for that matter, movie history."
Purists Beware: Liberal Use of Poetic License Here
Robert M. Collette | Falls Church, VA United States | 06/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It would not be hard to contemplate a more difficult story line for Disney to adapt on screen than Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", but that doesn't mean it was a walk in the park either. Not only is there the conundrum of how to make Quasimodo true to his character and at the same time not so unsightly in appearance as to frighten off youngsters, but how will Victor Hugo's dark commentary of 15th Century Parisian life, capital punishment and religious bigotry be accommodated? What of Claude Frollo's lascivious desires for Esmerelda and wanton acts upon Quasimodo and gypsies? And that ending...a bit of a downer don't you think? Well, believe it or not, Disney stays true to each of these facets of the novel...with the exception of the tragic conclusion, of course.Talking gargoyles aside, the film really does not do enough to accommodate young viewers (and perhaps it was a mistake to market this as a kid's movie, but you got to sell those Burger King toys somehow!). The villain (Frollo) is among the most sinister characters ever portrayed in a Disney movie, and unlike Jafar ("Alladin") or Hades ("Hercules"), there is nothing humorous about him. On the other hand, the animators went a little overboard with Quasimodo, who kinda looks like a red-headed Chris Farley. And Phoebus has the personality of Al Gore...if he were any more wooden you'd have to check him for termites. Also, some very interesting characters from the book are regrettably absent. Where's Pierre Gringoire, Jehan Frollo, and Sister Gudule? Still, the animation is breathtaking, and the finale is nearly flawless...preferred to original version if you're a sentimental fan of happy endings.The movie contains a few hilarious subliminal references, as when Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) is dressed up briefly as Amadeus. The music is incredible and supports the film's most compelling scenes: Esmerelda singing "God Help The Outcasts" while taking sanctuary in the cathedral, the counterpoint of Quasimodo's "Heaven's Light" to Frollo's "Hell Fire," and the heart-pumping score behind the finale. Probably would have been given a PG rating if not for Eisner's influence over MPAA."
Disney's Greatest Animated Film to Date
Michelle | Reno, Nevada USA | 03/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I became enraptured with Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame after I saw it long ago back in 1996. My first impression was...WOW! Disney deviated from the normal 'warm and fuzzy' cartoon stories and daringly took on a project that was incredibly complicated and very adult in nature. The dark gothic edge to the tale should have been expected, as Victor Hugo's book was not exactly a Cinderella story. Parents should know this before taking their little kids to see it. I would say preteens would understand more than the usual toddler or grade school kids.I consider this movie to be Disney's greatest animated film to date, even up to this year, 2004. Why? For several reasons.First, it's hard to turn a book like Victor Hugo's Hunchback into a cartoon in which you can still find humor and drama, strong, multi-dimensional characters, and a very powerful plot and message that are not overshadowed by the characters, or vice versa. Literature fans of the book cringed when they saw the Disney-fied version, but my argument is: Disney also kept many of the strong, major themes of the book alive. People forget that a book and a film are two different forms of media, therefore, should be interpreted as such. A movie does not have to be faithful to the book, but can be, rather, an adaptation of words turned into stunning visuals, as Hunchback was. Secondly, all the characters in the movie are believable and multi-dimensional even the slapstick comedian gargoyles, who to me, represented a hidden part of Quasimodo's personality that he was unable to express...his fun-loving side. Esmerelda's great sensual beauty was a serious change to the usual more innocent well as her toughness, independence, and warmth. People aren't used to those kind of heroines, especially a dark gypsy who is an exotic dancer. Demi Moore's sultry, warm voice added more reality to Esmerelda's animation. Phoebus, the Captain of the Guard, is dry-humored, witty, and calmly confident, voiced by the similiar personality of Kevin Kline.But the most incredible part of the movie was the introduction of Disney's most complicated, tormented villain to date, Judge Claude Frollo, wonderfully voiced by Tony Jay's rich, resonant powerful voice. Not merely someone out for power or wealth ( he has those already), he is incredibly sinister, manipulative, and cruel. This got a little tricky trying to explain to my little cousin 'why Frollo was destroying the city" and what his Hellfire song was all aboutl. Indeed this was a common complaint among some parents...that the storyline was too complex and dark for their kids. Well, they also should know that Hunchback was not exactly a Cinderella-story fairy tale either, and could have kept their kids at home. Frollo was multi-layered, incredibly cruel, and yet, human enough to fall in love with a beautiful woman.Highlights include SPECTACULAR imagery and 3-D animation, breathtakingly beautiful views of Paris, Notre Dame, crowd scenes, and Quasimodo's graceful manuevering of the Cathedral he loves so much, but longs to leave to see the outside world.
I think the music was very dramatic, not much there for kids. The most compelling and powerful song sequence is the HEAVEN'S LIGHT/HELLFIRE sequence in which Quasimodo sings of his adoration for Esmerelda, and conversely, Frollo sings of his tormented lust for the gypsy he hates, but wants to possess and also love. No other villain has had such a multi-faceted personality and complex role. Frollo remains my favorite character because some of his expressions and words were absolutely priceless. And his cruelty went far beyond that of most other villains. The only other villain who even comes close to him is the Evil Queen from Snow White. The ending is breathtakingly dramatic, fiery, very intense, and again, may be too strong for very young children. But Quasimodo's touching experience with the little girl at the end, and his facial expression, would make anyone with a heart weep tears. Other characters include the hilarious trio of wisecracking Gargoyles, the Gypsy king Clopin, and Esmerelda's adorable pet goat, adding comic relief and colorful sequences to the story, esp the Festival of Fools gala. Disney outdid themselves with that computer animation, sweeping scenes of the Cathedral, and incredibly pyrotechnic animation work.Great character development, a beautifully animated film, strong plot, and a very powerful message: WHAT MAKES A MONSTER, AND WHAT MAKES A MAN? Yes, Disney took a chance with a much deeper, complex story, dark and scary scenes, but also non-stop action, and the heartfelt story of a lonely bellringer who finds happiness and acceptance at last.You will love this. Again I caution very young children from viewing it, as there are some darker and complex themes that are beyond their understanding. But, you will want to see this film. And rate it as one of the greatest animated Disney films of all time, as I have done."