The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney film)
"Up there, high, high in the dark belltower, lives the mysterious bellringer. Who is this creature? What is he? How did he come to be there? Clopin will tell you. It is a tale, a tale of a man... and a monster... "
Entry #34 in the Disney Animated Canon.
Twenty years ago, corrupt and sinister Judge Claude Frollo uncovers several gypsies trying to enter Paris with an unidentified and bundled object. One of them attempts to escape with it and Frollo runs her down, indirectly causing her death. It is then that Frollo realizes that the woman was carrying a baby, and disgusted by the infant's deformity, nearly drowns the child in a well when he is stopped by the Archdeacon. He warns Frollo that his sin of spilling innocent blood must be atoned for and has Frollo care for the child as his own. Fearful for his own eternal soul, Frollo agrees to do so as long as the child - whom he names Quasimodo (meaning "half-formed") -- resides in the bell tower of the cathedral, never to be seen by public eyes.
Twenty years later, kindhearted but isolated Quasimodo strongly desires to have one day of freedom beyond the walls of Notre Dame to see the Feast of Fools festival and decides to act on his decision after receiving encouragement from his animate stone gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne. However, when Quasimodo's identity is revealed, he is publicly scorned and humiliated by the townspeople until he is rescued by the beautiful and strong-willed gypsy Esmeralda, who has no tolerance for Frollo's ill-treatment of Quasimodo and her people. This encounters results in an unlikely friendship between Quasimodo and Esmeralda (as well as a one-sided love from Quasimodo to Esmeralda) and an unsettling lust in Frollo, whose inner conflict over his piety to God versus his growing sexual lust for Esmeralda drives him to hunt the gypsy girl down with the intention of having her for himself or not letting anyone have her at all. With Esmeralda and the other gypsies' lives in danger, and the whole city of Paris in the grip of Frollo's corruption, Quasimodo must team up with Esmeralda's love interest Captain Phoebus in order to stop Frollo and rescue Esmeralda.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the most mature works that Disney has taken to adapting in their history. Obviously, they changed the plot, but it is still one of the Darker and Edgier pieces in the canon with one of the most cruel, depraved, and downright sexual villains to grace a Disney film. It is also regarded as having one of the best soundtracks among the Disney animated films. For these and a few other reasons, this film is either considered an unsung classic, or at least a step in the right direction after the lack of critical success for Pocahontas, particularly in the fact that both films have an anti-racism Aesop in the story, and this film is the one that handled it far better.
In 1999, the film was translated into German for a Broadway-style musical, Der Glöckner von Notre Dame, which backtracked a bit from Disney and is somewhat Darker and Edgier than the film.
- Action Girl: Esmeralda openly insults Frollo and his guards, can outrun and outwit many soldiers (even if they are rather stupid), and is shown to have better-than-average combat skills when she fights Phoebus. And while at the stake facing certain death, she spits into Frollo's face and gives him a Kubrick Stare when he says, "Choose me or the fire."
- Actor Allusion: Esmeralda's infamous "pole dancing" moment. She was voiced by Demi Moore. Do you remember one of the most popular movies this actress made? In the same year, no less.
- Adaptational Villainy: Claude Frollo, while he becomes an Anti-Villain, is a more sympathetic character in the original book. To begin with, he voluntarily takes in Quasimodo in the beginning instead of killing his mother and threatening to hurl him down a well.
- Aerith and Bob: Victor, Hugo, and... Laverne. The first two double as Author Allusion, to Victor Hugo obviously.
- Age Lift: Frollo was only in his mid-thirties in the book yet seems to be around 20 years old in the movie. Esmeralda also seems to be in her mid-twenties rather than 16 like in the book.
- Alliteration: "Why her smoldering eyes stil scorch my soul?"
- Angry Mob Song: "The Court of Miracles".
- Annoying Arrows: Averted. It only takes one shot to down the armoured Phoebus.
- Anti-Hero: Esmeralda is a Type II, while Clopin is more of a Type IV.
- Apologetic Attacker:
- Phoebus tries one on Esmeralda, while she has him pinned to the floor with his own sword at his throat, and it works!
- Victor qualifies as well, going so far as to cover his eyes as he drops a single brick on a soldier from atop the cathedral. After it impacts, he peeks over the edge of the cathedral and calls down an apology.
- Art Evolution: Inverted in the sequel.
- Badass Damsel: Esmeralda when she is captured and about to be burnt at the stake.
- Barefoot Poverty: Esmeralda, as a poor Gypsy girl. At the end of the film, she falls in love with the clearly wealthy-looking Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, and in the sequel she inexplicably gains shoes.
- Batman Gambit: How Frollo finds the Court of Miracles. He knows that Quasimodo is in league with the gypsies, so he tells him that his men have found the court and that he plans to advance upon it in the near future. This is a lie, as Frollo has no idea where the court is. Quasi buys it though and heads off to warn the gypsies. Frollo covertly follows him and ends up discovering the court.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Esmeralda's act of kindness of defending Quasimodo during the Feast of Fools is what makes Quasimodo fall for her.
- Betty and Veronica: Quasimodo and Phoebus for Esmeralda, though Esmeralda is oblivious to Quasimodo's feelings for her and the only person she shows any romantic interest in is Phoebus. Frollo subverts the Third Option Love Interest as he lusts after Esmeralda without knowing of the competition, and Esmeralda is repulsed by Frollo and wants nothing to do with him. In the end, Esmeralda chooses Phoebus and Quasimodo gives them his blessing.
- Big Bad: Judge Claude Frollo.
- Big Damn Heroes: Quasimodo when he rescues Esmeralda in the climax, and then Phoebus when he rescues Quasimodo from falling.
- Big No: Happens three times in the climax. Played completely straight, given the horrific circumstances behind it.
- Big Word Shout: "STOP!", cried the Archdeacon!
- Bilingual Bonus:
- During the "Hellfire" sequence, the Ominous Latin Chanting in the background is actually the Confiteor, a prayer Catholics recite during the Mass that is an admission of guilt and wrongdoing. Most awesomely, when Frollo is proclaiming that it's not his fault, what the red hoods of doom chant back at him is "mea culpa" and "mea maxima culpa", Latin for "it is my fault" and "it is my most grievous fault" respectively.
- Also during "Hellfire" when Frollo says "God have mercy on her/God have mercy on me", you can hear the "kyrie eleison", Greek for "Lord, have mercy", being chanted in the background.
- The Latin lyrics to the piece that plays as Frollo hunts Quasimodo and Esmeralda is "dies irae" or "Day of Wrath", which is about how the wicked shall be punished in eternal fire. It gets even better when you realize that the same lyrics were used in the score much earlier while Frollo was chasing down Quasimodo's mother, as in both cases, he is using his religious fundamentalism to justify hunting down an innocent who is trying to protect someone who cannot defend themselves.
- YMMV on the religious fundamentalism. In the first case, the Archdeacon saves Quasimodo's life and in the second case Frollo is the one that gets figuratively dropped into hell.
- 'Notre Dame' is not the name of the cathedral. The full name is Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris--roughly, "The Parisian Cathedral of Our Lady", where Our Lady (Notre-Dame) refers to the Virgin Mary.
- Which means that the Archdeacon's line about 'the very eyes of Notre Dame' might refer to the 'eyes of Our Lady', the Virgin Mary, rather than the Genius Loci of the cathedral. A statue of Mary is featured quite prominently in the accompanying animation sequence.
- And made even more brilliant with Phoebus' line "and now [Frollo] has declared war on [Our Lady] herself!" As in Frollo, the fundamentalist hypocrite longing for the extermination of another race of human beings, has declared war on the principles of Christianity itself.
- It is worth noting that in the novel it was heavily implied by the author that the cathedral was a character itself. It is quite possible that the movie characters refer both to Mary and the cathedral itself.
- Birds of a Feather: Played with. Esmeralda and Quasimodo bond over their mutually restricted freedom, while Esmeralda and Phoebus are both sarcastic and rebellious to do what is right, though Phoebus doesn't rebel against Frollo until Frollo attempts to burn down a house with an innocent family still inside.
- Blatant Lies:
- "Besides, knights in shining armour aren't her type", and the entire song following that line.
- Many of Frollo's lies are quite blatant to the audience, but some of them are blatant to Esmeralda as well. Consider the scene where he sniffs her hair.
Esmeralda: What are you doing?
- Bloodstained-Glass Windows: No bloodier than you'd expect for a Disney animated film, but Phoebus lampshades it. "Candlelight, privacy, music! Can't think of a better place for hand-to-hand combat!"
- Book Ends: "Bells of Notre Dame" is played at the beginning of the film, and its reprise plays at the end of the film.
- Bowdlerise: On the Disney Sing Along Songs video released to promote this movie, the title track is a sanitized version of "Topsy Turvy". Not only did they cut out Esmeralda's dance, but they also rewrote the lyrics so that Clopin wouldn't mention devils and beer. See for yourself here.)
- Brick Joke: "I'm free! I'm free! ... Dang it."
- Broken Aesop: For all the films platitudes about looking beyond appearances, Quasimodo was absolutely right when he said that Esmerelda couldn't love "the ugliest face in all of Paris." The closest she ever comes is considering him a friend.
- The film's "main" Aesop, as stated in the page quote, was comparing Frollo to Quasimodo, which the supposedly-broken ending actually does pretty well on. It does still come across as a bit unfortunate, but entirely incidentally.
- This is sort of a lose-lose situation, because if Quasimodo had gotten Esmeralda, than fans of the book (where not only does Quasi not get the girl, but dies as well) would've complained that Disney- well, "disneyified" the story too much.
- But I Would Really Enjoy It: Frollo.
- Calling the Old Man Out: During the film's climax in the cathedral, Quasi says to Frollo, "All my life you've told me that the world is a dark, cruel place, but now I see the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like YOU!"
- Cerebus Callback: During "A Guy Like You", a borderline Disney Acid Sequence, the gargoyles give Quasimodo the Ace of Hearts card while they're trying to convince him that Esmeralda would love him. Shortly after this when he sees Esmeralda kissing Phoebus, he pulls out the card and rips it up.
- Character Development:
- Quasimodo becomes passive to more assertive to his oppressive guardian.
- Phoebus is initially the pawn who loathes injustice. In the opening, he discreetly rescues Esmeralda from arrest but never quite speaks out against injustice, and Frollo refuses to let Phoebus intervene when Quasimodo undergoes public humiliation. It's when he witnesses Frollo's attempted execution on an innocent family that Phoebus starts intervening explicitly from then on.
- Chekhov's Gun: The amulet that Quasimodo receives from Esmeralda. It is a perfect map of Paris with the Ile de la Cite (the island in the River Seine where Notre Dame stands) as the reference point. Phoebus and Quasimodo uses it to locate the Court of Miracles.
- Climbing Climax: Three guesses what structure it takes place on, but the first two don't count.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: During Phoebus' introduction, Frollo explains to him that the previous captain of the guard was "a disappointment." Cue a whip crack in the background as a man screams in agony as Phoebus looks disturbed and Frollo just smirks.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Frollo and his soldiers (with the exception of Phoebus) are all in very dark, faded colors, while Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, and any given gypsy wear much brighter clothing. At the end, Phoebus and Esmeralda are both wearing white, which stands for purity and is the customary color to get married in.
- Comically Missing the Point: The gargoyles ward off the soldiers with the help of a catapult. Instead of shooting projectiles with it, they throw the entire thing at the enemy.
- Composite Character:
- Inverted. The conflicted Archdeacon Claude Frollo is split into the good Archdeacon and the evil Justice Minister Claude Frollo. This was apparently done to make sure that they didn't get any religious controversy, but in the end, it actually managed to cause more religious controversy.
- However, played straight with Phoebus, who gains his good traits from Pierre Gringoire, an Author Avatar character who appeared in the book.
- Conspicuous CG: The crowd in the ending zoom-out.
- Cool Horse:
- Crowd Song: "Topsy Turvy".
- Cry for the Devil: "Hellfire". Behind closed doors he prays to the Virgin Mary for protection from Esmeralda's "witchcraft", which he convinces himself is driving him to sin through lustful, burning desire. He begs Mary to either burn Esmeralda in Hell or deliver her to him as his love to free him from his sin. He may be a vicious Knight Templar or at best a Well-Intentioned Extremist gone too far, but he's also very human and very conflicted, two qualities that generate sympathy and may keep him out of the Complete Monster category, and if not, then it makes it at least more understandable.
Frollo: God have mercy on her...God have mercy on me...
Esmeralda: You sneaky son of a...
- Cut Song: "Someday" was moved to the end credits to be replaced by the softer "God Help the Outcasts". It was cut because it was one or the other, and "God Help The Outcasts" won. "In a Place of Miracles" and "As Long as There's a Moon" were to be sung in an extended wedding scene in the Court of Miracles (before Frollo arrives), but were both cut for time.
- Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good
- Darker and Edgier:
- Much darker than the standard Disney Animated Canon fare. The villain sings about lusting after a woman and burning her alive if he can not have her.
- And it is even worse in the (German) stage version, where Esmeralda actually dies, which has yet to make it to Broadway. Not for long though; Alan Menken said he's been working on making an American version using the same book.
- The villain's also a genocidal racist (as demonstrated when he crushes ants beneath a stone block while talking to Phoebus to show what he will do when he finds the Gypsies) and telling the Gypsies he's just rounded up, "There's a bonfire tomorrow. You're all invited."
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Esmeralda and Phoebus. While he's not the most interesting of characters, Phoebus does have some of the film's best lines.
- Phoebus is more clearly a snarker than Esmeralda, though, since most of her snark is from her banter with Phoebus earlier in the movie. Phoebus, however, has been known to clearly snark outside of that earlier moment:
Quasimodo: Is this the Court of Miracles?
- Frollo gets in some zingers too.
Frollo: And look what else I've caught in my net: Captain Phoebus, back from the dead. Another miracle no doubt. I shall remedy that.
- Death by Cameo: In one of the shots of the streets of Paris during the song Out There, Pumbaa from The Lion King is being carried off on a pole, presumably to be roasted.
- Death by Irony: "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into a fiery pit!"
- Did Not Get the Girl: Quasimodo.
- Disney Death: Esmeralda. However, in the stage version, it's not so Disney. She revives long enough to look at him and weakly say, "I... think you are a good friend", then dies, probably from carbon monoxide poisoning. All in all, the chain-yanking makes it worse than in Hugo's novel.
- Disney Villain Death: Frollo falls, all right, but it's given a fair bit more detail than the usual Disney Villain Death. You see the splash as Frollo falls into the pool of molten lead below him. In the musical, Quasimodo throws him (as in the book).
- Does Not Wear Shoes: Esmeralda. She wears shoes in the sequel.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Lawful Evil Antagonist singing about how much he desires the resident sensual brunette? In a church? With the sound of people praying in the background?
- Door Step Baby: What, in the book, was Frollo's kindest deed becomes a Moral Event Horizon in the film. In the original, he finds the abandoned Quasimodo and adopts him (nobody else would because he's deformed). In the movie, he accidentally (but remorselessly) kills his mother and is forced to adopt Quasimodo by the Archdeacon, for penance.
- Dude in Distress: Phoebus and Quasi find the Court of Miracles. They are Bound and Gagged by Clopin and the gypsies, mistaking them for "Frollo's spies", leaving Esmeralda to save them from an untimely execution.
- Evil Eyebrows: Frollo.
- Evil Plan: Initially Frollo was all about arresting and killing the gypsies. After the Festival of Fools this is expanded to include possessing Esmeralda.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Frollo with the cold and baritonal voice of Tony Jay.
- Expy: There's a good chance someone on staff either REALLY liked or worked on Gargoyles. Clopin to Puck, Esmeralda looked a LOT like Elisa...
- Extreme Omni Goat: Djali, though this trope was not used in the original.
- Fan Edit: There's a fan edit with some of the Gargoyles scenes edited out or shortened to prevent the Mood Whiplash. The edit makes the film much darker.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Esmeralda's outfit isn't symmetrical (she has a decorated wrap on one side of her skirt and only one ankle bracelet), and both she and most of the other gypsies such as Clopin (who themselves are hardly symmetrical in dress) only have one earring in. Esmeralda is actually sharing a pair of earrings with Djali. Quasimodo is a bizarre subversion of this--his simple outfit is symmetrical, but his facial asymmetry isn't very attractive.
- First Guy Wins: Esmeralda ends up with Phoebus, the first love interest that she meets in the film.
- Foil: Many, but the main foils are Quasimodo and Frollo, which is invoked in "Bells of Notre Dame."
Now here is a riddle to guess if you can, sing the bells of Notre Dame:
- Foe-Tossing Charge: Frollo throws the Archdeacon down a flight of stairs on his way to his final confrontation with Quasimodo and Esmeralda.
- Foreshadowing: "Remember, Quasimodo, this is your sanctuary."
- Freudian Trio: Hugo is led by whims, Victor is very moral, and Laverne is in the middle--Id, Ego, Superego.
- Friend to All Children: Clopin seems to be, as the story opens with him entertaining some children with the story of Quasimodo's backstory, and at the end of the film he is seen carrying a little girl as he reprises the opening song with the crowd carrying Quasimodo.
- The Fundamentalist: Frollo.
- Gentle Giant: Quasimodo isn't particularly tall or big, but it is definitely with regards to his strength.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: These scenes.
- How did the movie get a G rating with such obvious sexual tension?
- Sexual tension is the least of it. They got Frollo in it, complete with a Villain Song called "Hellfire" that announces the villain's intention to force a girl to submit to sex or burn at the stake. This had to have been Refuge in Audacity.
- It's likely because it's a Disney movie and/or because of the Animation Age Ghetto.
- Also, the mention of 'strumpets' in Topsy Turvy, which they probably only got away with because it's such an archaic word.
- Oh look, Esmeralda's dancing. Great animation... Wait a sec... W-What?! Is she POLE DANCING?!
- They let the word "damnation" be used in the movie. There are many other words that start with "D" in the church; how did the movie still get G-rated with that?
- Phoebus' and Frollo's exchange during Esmeralda's "dance".
Frollo: Look at that disgusting display.
- During the climax, Esmeralda is supposed to be executed in a white dress, which implies that all of her other outfits were destroyed by Frollo so that she can be executed properly. Now try to guess where Esme hid that dress so it won't be destroyed.
- Probably just a small nitpick, but the brief scene of a troupe of women doing the Can-can and their knickers are in full view. Then again, Pinocchio did it too, but with marionettes.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: Esmeralda.
- Good Shepherd: The Archdeacon is probably one of the best examples of this.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Averted. It's the second Disney film that refers to "hell"/"Hell".
- Green Eyes: Esmeralda. And her name even means emerald.
- Groin Attack: Quite a few, once notably with a bottle cork.
- The Grotesque: Quasimodo.
- Hair Decorations: Esmeralda wears a pink ribbon in her hair.
- Handicapped Badass: For a guy with a spine like a boomerang, Quasimodo is surprisingly nimble and strong. Not only can he lift a grown woman over his head, he broke solid iron chains with his bare hands. All this from years of ringing big, heavy bells and leaping around the cathedral (see Le Parkour below).
- Hanging Judge: Frollo.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Clopin. He was perfectly willing to execute a pair of Esmeralda's friends because he thought they were spies of Frollo.
- Heel Realization: Frollo, for a fraction of a second toward the end of the opening sequence. He gets over it.
- Holier Than Thou: Frollo again, during his song "Hellfire".
Beata Maria, you know I am a righteous man; of my virtue I am justly proud,
- Homeschooled Kids: Poor Quasimodo - Frollo royally sucks as a teacher, seeing that Quasimodo is still learning the alphabet at age 20.
- Horsing Around: Phoebus' horse, when he was told to "sit." His face seemed well smug. Self-satified maybe?
- Hot Amazon: Esmeralda. Watching her single handedly trounce Frollo's guards makes Phoebus exclaim "What a woman!"
- Hot Gypsy Woman: Esmeralda.
- Hypocrite: Frollo as laid out in his villain song.
- I Should Have Done This Years Ago: During the climax, Frollo admits that Quasimodo's mother risked her life trying to save him, rather than abandoning him like Frollo had claimed. While Quasi is still reeling, Frollo says that he's going to do what he should have done "TWENTY YEARS AGO!" and tries to kill him.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Quasimodo does what he can to make Esmeralda happy, including blessing her relationship with Phoebus at the end.
- "I Want" Song: Played straight with "Out There", in which Quasimoto sings about wanting a day of freedom. Inverted with "God Help the Outcasts" as Esmeralda specifically does not want anything for herself, but asks God to help others who are worse off than she is. Deconstructed with "Hellfire", a mix between an Obsession Song, a Sanity Slippage Song, a Villain Song, and a Villain Love Song that ultimately conveys that wanting something can turn you into even more of a depraved person that you already are.
- If I Can't Have You:
Hellfire, dark fire. Now gypsy, it's your turn!
- In the Hood: Esmeralda uses a cloak to disguise herself and evade the guards.
- Incredibly Long Note:
- "The Bells of Notre Dame" (and its reprise), "Out There" and "Hellfire".
- Clopin holds the A of Esmeralda's name for an incredibly long time in "Topsy Turvy" too.
- It's All About Me: Frollo only spares Quasimodo because he believes he may be useful to him later. He also seems to have no problem committing mass murder and destroying Paris to get rid of a single woman who isn't even to blame for his own problems.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet:
[While searching for the Court of Miracles]
- Jerkass Has a Point: Phoebus calls the gypsies, "criminals and dangerous." He's right.
- Joker Jury:
- Quasimodo's and Phoebus' trial in the Court of Miracles. It is a mockery of Frollo's corruption of justice where the gypsies are concerned, but ends up coming dangerously close to what it is mocking.
- This is reinforced when, while pronouncing sentence on Phoebus and Quasimodo ("I am the lawyers and judge all in one!"), one of Clopin's split-second costume changes is into a reasonable facsimile of Frollo's.
- Karmic Death: It's heavily implied that God himself is smiting Frollo down. The molten lead Frollo falls into also suspiciously resembles Hell, and the gargoyle that comes alive to drag him down reminds us of someone. The fact that Frollo had said, "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit" right before all this reinforces the idea.
- Kick the Dog: Frollo does this a lot in the movie. Especially shoving the Archdeacon down a flight of stairs. It's far from being the worst thing he does, but it's still considered one of those things that you're not supposed to do, and gets bonus points for showing his contempt for religious authorities who get in the way in a way that actually sort of contrasts with his role as The Fundamentalist at the same time.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Phoebus. Not only does he look the part with his armor and horse but he acts the part in protecting Esmeralda and saving the family trapped in a burning house.
- Knight Templar: Judge Claude Frollo in a nutshell. He is very much convinced that he is a righteous man of God, but there is nothing righteous or godly about what he does throughout the movie. Clopin tells us all we need to know about him during his introduction:
Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin,
- Kubrick Stare:
- When Quasimodo finally decides that he's taken enough crap from Frollo, and that violin starts softly playing in the background...
- Later in that same scene, Frollo manages a chilling stare himself. From Esmeralda's point-of-view, she sees Frollo through the distorted air above the flames grinning maniacally through the smoke.
- Lady in Red: Esmeralda during her performance at the Feast of Fools.
- Large Ham: Frollo. Clopin has his moments too. "Court of Miracles" has him dancing and costume changing and aruging with his puppet while singing.
- Le Parkour: How Quasimodo gets around the Cathedral exterior. Apparently he gets it from his mother, who was able to vault over fences, one-handed and carrying a baby.
- Lean and Mean: Frollo.
- In 90% of the music accompanying Frollo, whether song or score, the choir chants "kyrie eleison", which means "Lord, have mercy" in Greek.
- The opening fanfare is also reintroduced at the end of "Heaven's Light", makes up the melody during the chorus of "Hellfire", and plays in the instrumental "Sanctuary!" Also, along with "kyrie eleison", "dies irae" is also thrown in at times. "Dies irae" translates into "Day of Wrath."
- It's very subtle, but in the scene where Quasimodo is chained up in Notre Dame, and the gargoyles are trying to convince him to save Esmeralda, there is a brief reiteration of a melody from "Out There", in particular the line "Every day they shout and scold, and go about their lives, heedless of the gift it is to be them." The same reiteration first appeared in Frollo's line from "Bells of Notre Dame" when he sings, "Just so he is locked away where no one else can see. Even this foul creature may yet prove one day to be of use to me." Then it briefly comes back in "Topsy Turvy", when the crowd discovers that Quasimodo's face is no mask. Finally, you can last hear it when Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Phoebus step out of the cathedral in front of a crowd at the end of the movie. It can be safely assumed that this melody from "Out There" is Quasimodo's leitmotif.
- Lighter and Softer: It's definitely lighter in tone than the book. Many of the elements and themes presented in the novel--like Quasimodo's hate and contempt for most people or Phoebus being a jerk trying to take advantage of an innocent young girl--were either changed or taken out completely.
- Even more so with the sequel.
- Lost in Imitation: The film is based quite strongly on the 1939 film version, which is also one of the furthest from the book. Ranging from Frollo being a judge rather than the archdeacon, Phoebus being a genuinely heroic character rather than the Jerkass he was in the novel, and the overall story and plot structure being changed completely. With that said, it is still generally considered an enjoyable movie.
- Love At First Sight:
- And how! Poor Esmeralda must have had some Love Potion No. 9 before the Feast of Fools because everyone wants her. Immediately.
- The fact that she's billed as "The Most Beautiful Woman in France" and does a rather provocative dance (including a brief pole dance with a spear) in a rather revealing outfit probably helped.
- That and the fact that she (like Pocahontas before her) is drawn visibly more adult than other Disney heroines.
- Subverted with Esmeralda, who ironically falls in love with Phoebus at first sight in the book. In the film adaptation, she's both distrusting but fascinated by Phoebus and doesn't necessarily fall for him until she witnesses him saving an innocent family from a burning house after refusing Frollo's order to burn it himself.
- And how! Poor Esmeralda must have had some Love Potion No. 9 before the Feast of Fools because everyone wants her. Immediately.
- Love Hurts: When Quasimodo witnesses Esmeralda's and Phoebus' kiss and realizes that they are in love with each other.
- Love Makes You Evil: Frollo's unhealthy obsession with Esmeralda drives the plot. Although in this adaptation, all it did was just send him completely over the edge; the man was pretty evil to begin with.
- Love Triangle: Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda, who in turn falls for Phoebus. Frollo's lust for Esmeralda is just forcing it into a square.
- Lovely Assistant: Esmeralda is this to Clopin.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: Frollo, if his reaction to overhearing a prisoner's torture is anything to go by.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
- The film remains rather ambiguous as to whether Quasimodo's gargoyle friends are really magical stone creatures that only Quasimodo can hear or just his imaginary friends.
Frollo: Can stone... talk?
- Meaningful Name: Quasimodo means "half formed", Esmeralda means "emerald", and Phoebus means "sun god".
- The Messiah: Esmeralda, if her "God Help the Outcats" doesn't fill the bill than her treatment of Quasimodo will.
- Mildly Military:
- Frollo's authority is vaguely defined and appears to have no limits, as it seems as far as the movie's concerned he is the Knight Templar dictator of Paris. He commands a sizable garrison in the city, and can slaughter suspects and burn property at will.
- In fairness, the movie makes mention of the King and that there is a war that Phoebus was called back from. It's possible that the King is off leading the war effort and Frollo is in charge in his absence.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The gargoyles' goofy jokes often seem out of place, especially when Frollo's running around trying to slaughter the gypsies:
Hugo: Paris, the City of Lovers, is glowing this evening.
- Used intentionally in the "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" sequence: High among the clouds, Quasimodo sings a heartbreakingly beautiful song of love and hope, having finally found some acceptance and affection from Esmeralda, which segues immediately into Frollo all but masturbating over Esmeralda's scarf and fantasizing about burning her at the stake.
- Also done, possibly intentionally, in the Feast of Fools sequence. It starts out with a light-hearted, fun musical number, with a dance interlude from Esmeralda. But once the song's over and Quasimodo has been crowned the King of Fools, some Jerkass in the crowd tosses a rotten vegetable at him to see if he can make Quasimodo any uglier. Clopin and the other cheerful characters abruptly disappear, replaced by a cruel mob that ties Quasimodo to a wheel of torture and continues to verbally and physically abuse him until Esmeralda puts a stop to it and rescues him.
- Ms. Fanservice: Esmeralda, so much that all three of the other main characters want her. Sick of drawing petite princesses like Ariel and Belle. Disney decided what they really needed was a heroine who looked like a Victoria's secret model. Who Pole dances.
- Mythology Gag: With the novel in that two of the gargoyles are named Victor and Hugo, and with the rest of the Disney Animated Canon in that Aladdin's flying carpet, Belle, and Pumbaa (on a spit) can be glimpsed in the "Out There" sequence (and later as a gargoyle on the cathedral).
- Narrator: Clopin.
- All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Unlike most narrators, Clopin is actually a significant part of the story, though he enjoys himself far too much considering what is going on.
- The Storyteller: The introductory sequence is presented as Clopin singing the story of Quasimodo's adoption to a brace of children.
- Never My Fault: One of Frollo's defining personality traits. Anything bad that he does, he blames it on someone else. This includes killing Quasimodo's mother (she ran from his soldiers to protect her son, he ran her down with his horse) and his lust for Esmeralda (blaming Esmeralda herself for the way he feels, even blaming God for allowing the Devil to tempt him). See Blatant Lies.
- Nice Hat:
- Frollo wears one. The commentary, however, bemoans its existence. That's because it was very difficult to draw. Towards the end of the movie, Frollo's hat just randomly falls off for no reason. It was simply done so the animators wouldn't have to draw it anymore.
- Clopin gets a pretty darned nice hat himself. Big blue pirate number, and a feather that has got to be sentient.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Believe it or not, Djali, Esmeralda's adorable and intelligent goat, is not a Disney creation.
- Not a Mask: Happens to Quasimodo during the festival.
- Oblivious to Love: Esmeralda towards Quasimodo.
- Obsession Song: "Hellfire" again.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: This movie rivals Conan the Barbarian for sheer unparalleled LATIN.
- Opposite Day: The Feast of Fools.
- Our Gargoyles Rock: The Comic Relief trio, and the bat-head-from-hell that turns on Frollo in the climax.
- Parental Abandonment: Frollo claims that Quasimodo's mother abandoned Quasimodo when he was an infant when in reality Frollo murdered her. His dad is presumably dead as well, since he was captured by Frollo's thugs the same night Quasimodo's mom was murdered.
- Parental Bonus: The movie is loaded with it (see Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Movie), but the best example is probably Esmeralda's... dance.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Frollo compares Gypsies to ants earlier in the movie, and alludes to his genocidal intentions by squishing an ant nest.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- Admittedly, this isn't a very good adaptation of the book, but on its own merits, it is an actually enjoyable film.
- There are many fans/casual viewers of the movie who had read (or trying to read) the book who found the adaptation far superior than the original work. Some find the book bad for the slow pace, the handle of Values Dissonance and its obsession with architecture; this last bit is justified, seeing as Hugo considered the main protagonist of the book to be the cathedral itself rather than any of the human characters (The Hunchback of Notre Dame is actually something of a mistranslation and most modern editions of the book give the French title 'Notre-Dame de Paris' instead). Tropes Are Not Bad and Your Mileage May Vary full force in this one.
- Prayer of Malice: Frollo's song "Hellfire" includes a prayer to the Virgin Mary for Esmeralda to burn in hell or else become his.
- Produce Pelting
- Public Execution: The climax of the film involves Quasimodo attempting to rescue Esmeralda from being burned at the stake in public by Frollo.
- Putting a Hand Over His Mouth: Victor does this to prevent Hugo from spitting on a mime.
- Race Lift: Esmeralda is actually portrayed here as an actual Gypsy.
- Recursive Adaptation: The stage musical.
- Redheaded Hero: Quasimodo.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Rescue Romance: Played with. Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda after she rescues him; Frollo ironically develops his lust for her due to this incident. Esmeralda, on the other hand, is oblivious to the former and is disgusted by the latter. After they rescue each other several times, Esmeralda and Phoebus end up falling for each other.
- Rivals Team Up: Quasimodo and Phoebus team up to warn Esmeralda of Frollo's ambush on the gypsy hideout at dawn. It was a bluff. Frollo followed Quasimodo and Phoebus, leading him straight to the hideout.
- Roma: Clopin, Esmeralda, Quasimodo, and Quasimodo's mother.
- Rousing Speech:
- Phoebus in the climax.
Phoebus: Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people! Ransacked our city! And now, he has declared war on Notre Dame herself! Will we allow it?
- This was originally intended to be said by Clopin, or at least a combination of Clopin and Phoebus. You have to admit the "persecuted our people" bit would make a little more sense if Clopin said it.
- "Our people" in that context likely refers to the French that Frollo terrorized, made homeless, and (probably) murdered innocent people in his obsessive search for Esmeralda. At the very least, a pretty large section of Paris was burning because of Frollo's actions.
- Sadistic Choice: Frollo gives Esmeralda one last chance to decide her fate before her execution: "Choose me or the fire." She spits in his face.
- Saintly Church:
- The benevolent archdeacon, in contrast to Frollo. In the book, they were the same character.
- The cathedral itself, since there are hints that it has a life of its own and is silently watching everything. The fact that a gargoyle on it comes to life to make Frollo fall to his death would back this up. That also applies to the 3 gargoyles. They were sent/brought to life to watch over Quasimodo, thus setting up all the events that have occurred through the film.
- Genius Loci (in the form of a patron saint) is actually Church doctrine.
- Samaritan Relationship Starter: Esmeralda and Phoebus are initially attracted to but wary of each other, but they only fall for each other after each witnesses the other committing a noble and selfless act (e.g. Esmeralda defending Quasimodo from Frollo; Phoebus refusing to burn an innocent family in their house and rescuing them).
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Hellfire."
- Scenery Porn:
- The Cathederal of Notre Dame is drawn with perfect accuracy. And when you visit her IRL and slowly come to the realisation that the artist actually painted every single statue correctly as possible, it just gets better. And the medieval statues which were once part of the facade of the cathedral and are now stored in a small museum on the other bank of the Seine.
- Seeking Sanctuary
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Frollo is a pure case of this (Flanderized from the book version, who too had more than a hint of this), believing Esmeralda to be a evil witch who has enchanted him--since that's the only reason he could be in love with her--and trying to have her burnt at the stake for it.
- Sexy Jester: While his sex appeal is probably not intentional, Clopin runs around in a jester costume for most of the movie and remains sexy while doing so.
- Laverne near the end tells the pigeons that are always bugging her to "fly my pretties, fly, fly!" (which is a Beam Me Up, Scotty) complete with the original backing music from "The Wizard of Oz." Also a shout out to one of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, "The Birds."
- Quasi and the gargoyles' relationship (and the fact that they can move (and shoot crunched-up rocks at rapid fire speed) even though they are probably imaginary (although Djali and quite a few soldiers would argue)) is similar to the relationship of Calvin and Hobbes.
- Beauty and the Beast, considering her brief cameo in the beginning, when Paris is panned and Belle is seen strolling along reading yet another book. She does live in France, after all.
- In addition, Jafar's old man disguise appears for a slapstick gag in the climax.
- Two of the gargoyles are named "Victor" and "Hugo".
- During the scene when Frollo goes out on the parapet after Quasimodo and Esmeralda, Pumbaa appears again as one of the gargoyles. Subverted in that it is modeled after an actual gargoyle on Notre Dame
- The climax, with the dramatic Notre Dame battle between Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Frollo, may have been inspired by the end of Batman, which has Batman, Vicky Vale, and the Joker in a very similar situation atop a gargoyle-filled tower. And like the Joker, Frollo is sent to his doom by a gargoyle statue and Screams Like a Little Girl too. Both even had an ironic choice of last words (Frollo: "And He shall smite the wicked and throw them into the fiery pit!"; Joker: "Sometimes I just kill myself!") In the rare moments when Frollo smiles, he strikingly resembles the Joker.
- Silent Snarkers: Djali and Achille.
- Simpleton Voice: That guard voiced by Bill Fagerbakke.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Laverne during their Disney Acid Sequence.
- Slasher Smile: Frollo when Esmeralda was being burned at the stake.
- Smoke Out: Esmeralda disappears and reappears in a puff of smoke at will.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Clopin.
- Spiteful Spit: When Frollo offers Esmeralda a choice between rape or death by burning, she chooses the latter by spitting on his face.
- Stalker with a Crush: Frollo again. To a more innocent extent, Quasimodo.
- Straight Edge Evil: Frollo.
- Straw Hypocrite: For a man of the Church, Frollo is demeaning to his underlings, insulting to the citizens of Paris, boasts about his faith and righteousness, repeatedly denies that feeling lust for Esmeralda is his fault, denies that it's his fault that Quasimodo's mother died (he kicked her in the head hard) and says that he'll find Esmeralda "If I have to burn down all of Paris!" and fully intends to violate the vows of chastity that he's undoubtedly taken in order to have sex with Esmeralda. He also shows complete disregard for Church authority when he tosses the Archdeacon down a flight of stairs for trying to stop him from reaching Quasimodo.
- Technically Frollo (in this version) is a judge, and is simply religious (or finds religion convenient for his racism and holier-than-thouness). It's implied several times in the film that his religiousness degrades along with his sanity.
- Perhaps best demonstrated by the first line of his Villain Song "Beata Maria you know I am a righteous man, of my virtue I am justly proud", since Pride is considered to be the worst of the seven deadly sins in Christianity and especially Catholicism, this line is essentially an oxymoron even if it wasn't Frollo saying it.
- Sudden Principled Stand:
- Phoebus against Frollo.
Phoebus: With all due respect, sir, I was not trained to murder the innocent.
- This becomes a little ironic when you consider previous implications that the war Phoebus was called back from was one of the (later) Crusades. Not murdering innocents was never much of a Crusader standby.
- Since this is the late fifteenth century, the Crusades are essentially over. It was probably the Hundred Years War.
- This becomes a little ironic when you consider previous implications that the war Phoebus was called back from was one of the (later) Crusades. Not murdering innocents was never much of a Crusader standby.
- Suffer the Slings
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Esmeralda. Clopin fits this too.
- Tempting Fate: Frollo says, "And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!" ... whilst standing above a fiery pit.
- This Is No Time to Panic: When Quasimodo helps Esmeralda and Djali escape the cathedral.
Quasimodo: Don't be afraid.
- Three Amigos: The gargoyles.
- Timmy in a Well: Djali saves Phoebus and Quasi from hanging by running to get Esmeralda.
- Title Drop:
- "Ladies and gentlemen, don't panic! We asked for the ugliest face in all Paris, and here it is! Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame!"
- In the Japanese dub of the film, the movie's title was changed to "The Bells of Notre Dame" because "hunchback" is too much of an insult to say. This makes the opening and ending song full of Title Drops.
- Mea culpa. In some versions, this scene is a title drop, such as Swedish ("Det är Ringaren i Notre Dame!") and Finnish ("Se on Notre Damen kellonsoittaja!")
- Totem Pole Trench: Esmerelda is known for doing this to hide from the soldiers. She does this by carrying Djali on her shoulders and wrapping a blanket around them so they could pass as an old man.
- Trick and Follow Ploy: How Frollo finds the Court of Miracles.
- Two Guys and a Girl: The gargoyles. Also Quasimodo, Phoebus, and Esmeralda
- Villain Love Song: "Hellfire."
- Villain Song: "Hellfire."
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Bells of Notre Dame" becomes this.
- Villainous Breakdown: Frollo is an honest Knight Templar... until Love Makes Him Crazy and turns him into an ultra-violent Stalker with a Crush.
- "Honest" is a little generous. He's shown to be evil from the very beginning of the movie.
- Villainous Crush: Frollo for Esmeralda.
- While Rome Burns: Replace "Rome" with "Paris" here. When Frollo is threatening to burn down all of Paris (and seems to have already burned down quite a bit of it), the gargoyles are singing about how Quasimodo might have a chance with Esmeralda after all.
Paris, the City of Lovers, is glowing this evening.
- Woman in White: Esmeralda in the climax when she's sentenced to be burnt at the stake.
- Would Hit a Girl/Would Hurt a Child: Frollo shows us within the first five minutes of the film that he is perfectly able to murder a woman and attempt to drown her infant in a well. He later tried to burn down an innocent family alive in their house and burn a woman at the stake because he couldn't have her.
- X Must Not Win: The gargoyles use this on Quasimodo, who responds to "You can't let Frollo win" with "He already has." Then, upon hearing Frollo's words as he tries to burn Esmeralda alive, Quasimodo changes his mind and keeps fighting anyway.
- Yandere: Guess who.
- Adaptation Expansion: Adds about 5 more songs and a couple of scenes.
- Bare Your Midriff: Esmeralda at the Festival of Fools.
- The Casanova: Phoebus regains some of his womanizing traits, but still genuinly loves Esmeralda.
- Completely Different Title: "Der Glöckner von Notre Dame" translates to "The Bellringer of Notre Dame."
- Darker and Edgier: The play is noticably darker than the Disney film it is based on, but it is still Lighter and Softer than the novel.
- Downer Ending
- Fingerless Gloves: Quasimodo wears them.
- Pet the Dog: Instead of saying Quasi would be "of use to him" when he takes him in an act of guilt because of killing his mother (in the film), Frollo says he will take him in as a son. Subverted in that Frollo still only vists Quasi in the bell tower to bully him, telling him that he should stay in "sanctuary" in the bell tower because he is "ugly" and "deformed."
- Playing Gertrude: Frollo is now played by a actor who looks to be middle-aged, rather than as an old man like in the Disney film.
- Recursive Adaptation