An Excellent Adaptation
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 04/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Michael Tuchner and first aired for television in 1982, this version of Victor Hugo's classic novel features a storyline that stays rather close to Hugo's story and features Anthony Hopkins as one of the better Quasimodo's seen on film.
The overall story of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is fairly common knowledge. Quasimodo is the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame. Quasimodo's master, Dom Claude Frollo (Derek Jacobi), falls in love with a Gypsy dancer named Esmeralda (Lesley-Anne Downs), but when Esmeralda spurns Frollo, he orders Quasimodo to capture her. Later, after an act of tender kindness, Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda, but she's enraptured with Captain Phoebus (Robert Powell). Phoebus is intrigued by the women, but just as another trophy to mount. When Esmeralda is sentenced to death for crimes she didn't commit, Quasimodo comes to her rescue and shows himself to be a true hero.
There have been many versions of Hunchback made, but most choose to ignore or skim the more interesting characterizations of the novel. Other than the ending, which has been altered from the original story but remains bittersweet in tone, this version of the novel gets many of the characterizations right. For instance, Dom Claude Frollo is not really a wicked man but a saintly man who becomes consumed by his lust for that which he knows he cannot have. Many versions of the story turn him into an evil villain. This version doesn't and shows Dom Claude Frollo as the good man he is and the internal struggle he faces. Also, in many versions of the story Phoebus is shown as being an almost saintly soldier who is well-matched for Esmeralda. This version shows him for being the selfish, man-whoring, pig that he is described as being in the novel. I also enjoyed how the movie kept Pierre Gringoire involved in the story, just as he is in the novel.
The acting in the movie is excellent. Of course, Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo is the standout. He gives a remarkable performance as the tortured and misunderstood bell-taker. Derek Jacobi also stands out as Dom Claude Frollo. The sets are a bit lackluster and the lighting and cinematography isn't the best. However, this was a made-for-tv movie and considering that, those flaws are acceptable.
I love the story of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and have seen several movie versions of the story. I've only seen about half of the films made based on the tale. I've yet to see the definite version, but this movie is the closest that I've seen, yet. It's a must see for anyone who is a Hunchback fan.
The DVD includes some trailers for other movies and that's it for special features."
Outstanding adaption of the Hugo story!
Trout Man | Cleveland , Georgia | 02/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's about time this version of "Hunchback" made it to DVD. Anthony Hopkins rivals Lon Chaney in portraying Quasimodo as Hugo described him in his novel. The supporting cast is superb; and, with the exception of the surprise ending, this version is faithful to the novel. The DVD has several extended scenes that the old VHS and TV version lacked. There is once scene not in the VHS or TV version in which Dom Claude is standing by the river Seine mumbling to himself about "killing her". Two men come upon him and escort him back to the cathedral. I'd rank this version superior to the Laughton version but just under the Chaney version. Needless to say it leaves the Quinn, Clarke and Patinkin versions in the dust. If you're a "Hunchback" fan, make sure you have this version in your video library."
My Collection is Complete
Laura Holt | West Virginia | 04/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was required viewing in my 9th grade English/French classes back in 1982. It was a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie at that time. I loved the movie and I have waited for it to become available on video/DVD for years. Anthony Hopkins is great in the role of Quasimodo and I liked the romance between Esmeralda and Philip. I loved the ending except of course for poor Quasimodo."
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame with Anthony Hopkins and Derek J
Helen Richard | Montreal, Quebec Canada | 04/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In some 15 years of buying VHSs and DVDs, I have never taken the time to write even one movie review (I leave that to The Hound and to the Leonard Maltins of this world), but I just could not pass this one.
In one word, this version of "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" is 'sublime'. Forget Lon Chaney or Charles Laughton or Anthony Quinn - see this version first, then you can add the others as second best or 'alternates'. But this one, you will cherish.
Think for a minute; Anthony Hopkins in the title role, Derek Jacobi as the villain, and a young and gorgeous Lesley-Anne Down doing her sexiest best as Esmeralda ! Add a superb story line plus color and you have a "must".
Tell you what. Out of some 2000 titles on DVD that I own, which - say 5 - would I take on the proverbial "desert isle" if I HAD to ? Well, this version is one of the 5 !!! (The other 4 ? - "Cyrano de Bergerac" with Gérard Depardieu --- "Amadeus" - the Saul Zaentz Company production --- "The 10 Commandments" by De Mille just for the all out quality of script, splendor, story, acting, and no-expense spared for a once-in-many-lifetimes production, and "A Tale of Two Cities" with Chris Sarandon and Peter Cushing a.o. ----- All 5, including the present version of "Hunchback" can be tagged as "sublime' in my book)
I never thought they'd ever issue this one on DVD because I previously had the VHS and the cheapos who issued it some 15 years back had the gall to encode the film in EP mode ! (You know, those small non-ethical and often bootleg-artists who relish flogging "as is" reissues as cheaply as they possibly can) It was attrocious quality-wise.
But lo and behold, this release by Columbia/Tristar (Canada) or Sony (U.S.) is as clear as crystal - keeping in mind of course that it is from a TV presentation of 1982, thus not in "hi-fi surround '13.0704' blah blah".
A Great Movie. Don't miss it. But buy the DVD - forget the VHS.