The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – 9/10 Disney animated period thriller review

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Cast / crew
Director: Gary Trousdale
Director: Kirk Wise
Producer: Don Hahn
Animation Screenplay and Story Writer: Tab Murphy
Novel Writer Notre Dame de Paris: Victor Hugo
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Irene Mecchi
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Bob Tzudiker
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Noni White
Writer (Animation Screenplay): Jonathan Roberts
Score and Songs Composer: Alan Menken
Composer (Lyrics): Stephen Schwartz
Tom Hulce: Quasimodo
Supervising Animator Quasimodo: James Baxter
Demi Moore: Esmeralda
Heidi Mollenhauer: Esmeralda
Supervising Animator Esmeralda: Tony Fucile
Tony Jay: Frollo
Supervising Animator Frollo: Kathy Zielinski
Kevin Kline: Phoebus
Supervising Animator Phoebus: Russ Edmonds

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Deformed baby Quasimodo is brought up by scheming evil government official Frollo in the Cathedral of Notre Dame and is given the task of ringing and caring for the bells. His life is reasonably happy but he would really like to leave the confines of the cathedral and find out what life is really like ‘out there’ but realising this dream means disobeying Frollo and putting the lives of himself and those he meets in great danger.

9/10

As time goes on, this unique Disney animation (it deals with entirely adult matters such as self-righteousness, sin, and the seduction of sex and power) becomes more clearly a masterpiece. The songs take a bit of getting used to but contain challenging and interesting lyrics and are better written than they seem at first. The screenplay is also outstanding as it manages to balance and present the weighty morals with clarity ("what makes a monster and what makes a man?") and, when appropriate, fun. Technically, the movie looks superb with Quasimodo’s animation an easy-to-overlook highlight (it’s very hard to draw something consistently from all angles that is deliberately distorted so special mention for supervising animator James Baxter). The movie saves it’s big animation guns for the finalé ("Sanctuary!") making it all the more impressive while the story rightly ends with the ugly guy not getting the girl which, as us ugly guy’s know, is exactly how it is.

This movie contains unpleasant scenes, disturbing scenes, supernatural scenes

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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