Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gary Trousdael & Kirk Wise, 1996) Review

So I was going to review We Bought a Zoo but frankly, I was having major writers block (hence the lateness of this review) so I looked at the next film on my schedule...it was this. Definitely one of the darker Disney films so trying to win back the audience after Pocahontas may not have been easy but...it's certainlly popular know. Why is this, you ask? Let's find out.

In Paris, a gypsy woman travels under the docks near Notre Dame. She is intervened and killed by Judge Claude Frollo (Tony Jay) who threatens to kill her deformed baby too. The Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers) of Notre Dame manages to convice Frollo to keep the baby for his own on the condition that he live in the bell tower of Notre Dame. The child, called Quasimodo (Tom Hulce), has grown into an adult and wants to live out with everyone else. The paths of his master, Frollo, and a gypsy dancer named Esmerelda (Demi Moore). Quasmodo must stop Frollo's rage agaisnt the gypsies and gain recognition from the people.

First things first, the music in this film is one of Disney's best. 'Bells of Notre Dame', 'Hellfire', 'Out There' and so many others are truly up there with the best Disney songs and even the background music is that good. This is mostly due to the top notch voice acting with Tony Jay being the most memorable of them. Frollo is up there in terms of Disney villains and the rest of the main cast is very enjoyable. Even side characters such as Clopin (Paul Kandel) are memorable. That takes effort.

I only have a few complaints. The most notable one being that, when you get down to it, this is quite a short film. Things go by a bit too quickly. I wish there was more too it except maybe the gargoyles friends Quasimodo has. They really bring down the tone that the film is trying to convey. It works sometimes but other times it just seems forced.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a gamble for Disney and I can safely say that it paid off. The characters are brought to life by some of the best voice acting in Disney history as well as some truly amazing animation. I love the character designs and especially the colours and lighting. They come together for a great climax. This is definitely one of my favourite Disney films and is certainly up there with some of the bests.

Some amazing animation mixed with great voice acting and well designed characters makes for a great Disney film.

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