Post #4: Revisiting Hunchback of Notre Dame

22 Feb

I, like many other people, have rewatched just about every Disney movie again since I’ve gotten older. I’m always amazed at how different my reactions to the movies become as I get older. Whether I appreciate aspects of it more or just understand aspects of it more, each movie is a different experience every time I watch it. There is no movie that this is more true for than Hunchback of Notre Dame.

When I was younger, I watched Hunchback, but it never really stuck. I always kind of grouped it as the black sheep of the Disney Renaissance: that one movie that just wasn’t as good. Whenever people even talk about their favorite Disney movies, Hunchback is far from the forefront of the conversation, and rarely is even mentioned at all.

Well, then I watched it again, and I have to admit, I was completely blown away.

From the first song, The Bell of Notre Dame, I realized that clearly I had overlooked this movie. The song is beautifully constructed, giving all of the background information and exposition in an interesting and exciting way, all while being masterfully sung by Clopin, the jester and our narrator through the tale (sidenote: The lyric “Who is the monster and who is the man?” gives me goosebumps every time).

As we moved on, I began to appreciate the intricacies of the story and the characters, from the evil villain Claude Frollo, torn between his religion and his lust, to the lovable hero Quasi Modo, a hunchback restricted to his belltower and possibly the first Disney hero to not get the girl in the end.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed every minute of this movie now that I’m older, and I guess my question becomes, why?

Part of it is that I understand more of it now, as there were some adult themes in this movie. Just look at the song “Hellfire,” sung by Frollo. Not only is the song’s name already a bit strong by Disney standards, just listening to the lyrics is incredible. He is singing on his lust for Esmerelda, and asking God for his forgiveness. This is heavy stuff! Just watch the video, it’s intense. I didn’t even realize that this was a subplot until I watched it again years later.

When compared to other classic Disney movies, yeah, the themes in Hunchback are intense. There’s religion, lust, racism, and violence, all while neatly wrapped around a very Disney-esque theme: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you have the chance, give this movie another look through, because you wont be disappointed.

What do you guys think of Hunchback, and are there any other movies that you may not have liked when you were little that you love now?



4 Responses to “Post #4: Revisiting Hunchback of Notre Dame”

  1. elaineziman February 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    I’m going to have to say I refused to watch Hunchback. Maybe I’m a little tetchy about these things, but I hate it when movies make too many changes to the storyline of a book. Disney is notorious for this. I understand WHY they do it, I mean, nobody’s going to take their kid to see a movie about a mermaid who wants to become human so she can die with a soul rather than become sea foam. But still, I never felt that Hunchback was an appropriate story to advertise as a child friendly movie. Just watching the clip I can see it being a great Broadway musical, though!

  2. History of Childhood Memories February 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I can appreciate your take on this, it is usually viewed as “the black sheep” of the Disney collection but I also believe that it is a good film that portrays the message of being the black sheep. It portrays that although some may not accept us we should learn to accept ourselves, no matter what. If we cannot learn to love ourselves we cant expect others to love us.

  3. jhogeland March 3, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    I actually liked Hunchback when it came out, although I was the only one I knew that did. It wasn’t exactly among my favorites and I’ve almost completely forgotten about it until fairly recently. I didn’t notice any of the adult themes as a kid, but then those themes can be seen in just about any Disney movie. Alice in Wonderland, for example, is filled with drug references.
    As for movies I didn’t like as a kid, but have gained a new prospective on, actually have quite a few, but Aladdin is top on that list. I can’t remember why I didn’t like it when I was younger, but now that I can better understand the significance of some of its more minor themes, I can enjoy it better (like the freedom of a woman from the middle east (Jasmine) to choose Aladdin over a man her father arranged, or how Aladdin had over come his class boundary).


  1. My Comments – updated 2/21/12 « Elaine Ziman - February 25, 2012

    […] Comment #8 […]

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