The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Frollo is a threatening bad guy who fights with swords and ogles over the suggestively dressed gypsy Esmeralda; he sings a song of desire about her and asks for her destruction -- or possession. Naturally deformities are addressed because the main character has a hunchback. Also, since this story does take place in Notre Dame Cathedral, religious symbols, icons, and religious themes abound.
What's the story?
When Judge Frollo (Tony Jay) discovers a group of gypsy castaways, he attempts to imprison them, and is left holding a baby in the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral. Noticing that the child is deformed, he starts to throw him down a well, but is stopped by a priest and told to care for the child instead. So the child Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) is brought into a place of sanctuary and confinement, becoming the bell ringer of the great cathedral. As he grows, he longs to be in the world for one day and gets his wish suddenly only to learn how cruel the world can be. Lucky for Quasimodo that he meets the gypsy Esmeralda (Demi Moore), who befriends him and saves him from utter shame. Their paths become entwined and their stories of surviving as outcasts serve as a touching theme.
Is it any good?
Disney's recreation of Victor Hugo's novel is rich in visual and musical sensation. But deeper beneath the rich production lies questions about normalcy, how sanctuary confines us as well as protects us, and what punishment is.
Some younger children might be frightened by Frollo's intensity. With his crusade against the gypsies and simultaneous lecherous pursuit of Esmeralda, he is a formidable and contemptible villain. But Tom Hulce's performance is so lovely that it makes the darker aspects of this tale incredibly human. Along for comic relief, Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame leads a trio of gargoyles, whose quick banter is fun, but can be a little grotesque.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it means to be different from the norm. Who were the gypsies?
Why were they considered outcasts?
What would it feel like to be Quasimodo?
What does sanctuary mean? Why do people seek sanctuary?
What other versions of this story do you know? Which one do you like best?
|Theatrical release date:||June 21, 1996|
|DVD release date:||March 19, 2002|
|Cast:||Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tom Hulce|
|Directors:||Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise|
|Studio:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Genre:||Family and Kids|
|Topics:||Book characters, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along|
|Run time:||91 minutes|