The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

I don't really understand the social conflict in the movie, but I roughly gather from a cursory reading of various Wikipedia pages that the depiction of gypsies in the story (by Victor Hugo) is romanticized. With this in mind, the movie starts with a group of gypsies trying to escape capture. At the end of the chase, the antagonist, Judge Claude Frollo kills a gypsy woman and prepares to kill her deformed baby as well. The child's life is spared, however, when the Archdeacon comes out from the doors of Notre Dame and says Frollo must raise the child for having killed the mother. Feeling the guilt, Frollo accepts, but under the condition that the child, who he named Quasimodo, grow up in Notre Dame.


Years later, we see a grown Quasimodo, a friendly hunchback with warm heart who works as the bell ringer for Notre Dame. Other than Frollo visiting him from time to time, Quasimodo grows quite lonely and longs to be among the people in the town who he observes from day to day. Technically Quasimodo has three gargoyle* friends, but they're not quite the same as people.

In any case, the Festival of Fools is taking place and Quasimodo wants to attend. While his master Frollo forbids Quasimodo to go, he disobeys and goes anyways. Through a series of unfortunate events, he is crowned King of Fools and he is allowed a moment or two of fame before being derided, beaten, and tied down. Seeking his master's assistance, Quasimodo cries out for help. Frollo, however, offers no assistance. Luckily for Quasimodo, a gipsy named Esmeralda shows pity and cuts him free.

Esmeralda frees a trapped Quasimodo.

Cutting past a lot of the details, Esmeralda and Quasimodo eventually become friends, a love triangle forms involving Esmeralda, Quasimodo, and Captain Phoebus, and the movie ends in dramatically. You'll have to watch the movie to find out if anybody gets to be with Esmeralda; perhaps she doesn't even live to see the end.

*Apparently the primary purpose of a gargoyle is for water diversion, quite different from my idea of them based solely off a cartoon series called Gargoyles (1994-1997) which I watched when I was kid.

This movie is quite dark for a Disney movie. For example, there is a song in the movie titled "Hellfire" where the antagonist, Claude Frollo, sings about his desire for Esmeralda. In the song, he tries to reason that his desire is Esmeralda's fault instead of his own. While many Disney movies have a song for the villain, this one is a darker in content than the others.

Clopin narrates the beginning of the story.

The movie has some solid songs and produces two exceptional ones: "Out There" and "God Help the Outcasts."

Overall, this film might not be in my top five favorite Disney movies, but it's a good one and you should definitely see it if you like 2D animation.


Instant Comments:
The first few songs are complex and grand, as is the scenery.
"What a woman."


I had forgotten this song: "God Help the Outcasts."
I never really understood what makes a gypsy bad though, and this movie certainly doesn't explain much.
I didn't think until about 50 minutes in that the characters are speaking in English, without any accents, even though the movie takes place in Paris.
So dark.
muffled pleas + "That's what they all say."
"Are you sure that's how it works?"
References The Wizard of Oz: "Fly my pretties, fly."
Ha! After the credits end, one of the gargoyles (the one that likes to eat) says, "Goodnight everybody! Woohoo!"

Quasimodo threatens Captain Phoebus.

Memorable Dialogue:
Frollo: Shall we review your alphabet today?
Quasimodo: Oh. Yes, master, I'd like that very much.
Frollo: Very well. A?
Quasimodo: Abomination.
Frollo: B?
Quasimodo: Blasphemy.
Frollo: C?
Quasimodo: C-C-Contrition.
Frollo: D?
Quasimodo: Damnation.
Frollo: E?
Quasimodo: Eternal damnation.
Frollo: Good. F?
Quasimodo: Festival.
Frollo: [spits his drink out in surprise] Excuse me?
Quasimodo: F-f-forgiveness!

Frollo versus Quasimodo.
Who is the monster, and who is the man?

Seen at least once before as a kid.
Watched 20130701 (Netflix, Instant, HD)*
*I think ever since I started watching on a higher resolution screen my internet connection isn't capable of buffering HD.
*Correction, after having it on pause, the movie was capable of buffering HD.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise. 91 min [botnotsn (1831) by Victor Hugo]

Relevant Links:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996 film) (
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (

The last movie I watched, A Cat in Paris (2010), is also a 2D animation and its plot is also set in Paris. In fact, you'll find the Notre-Dame de Paris in that movie as well. Below you'll find a screenshot of Notre Dame as it appears in the movie followed by a picture I took of the cathedral during my trip to Europe. Unfortunately, the picture quality is low, because the skies were cloudy and I was far away (atop the Eiffel Tower).

Notre-Dame de Paris:

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