Ah, Hunchback of Notre Dame, the long-forgotten Disney animation that has gotten its just Netflix revival. 

It's one of my favorite Disney films, but I've got some nitpicks to pick. Sure, it's based off the very complex Victor Hugo novel, but the Disney version cuts out so much the "you need to read the book" argument is null and void.

1. Why didn't the Archdeacon just raise Quasi?

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The priest was a decent guy who recognized Frollo was a monster.  Sure, he saved Quasimodo from death, but why would he not just tell Frollo, "Hey, let me raise the baby instead of you, the man who I know to be a murderous racist"? The Archdeacon was cool with letting Quasimodo stay in his chu
rch, so why would he let Frollo abuse the boy for twenty years? 

 

If he thought raising the boy was actually important for Frollo's Divine Judgement, he should have at the very least visited Quasi from time to time so he could have a friend and make sure Frollo wasn't teaching him terrible things (like he was.)


2. What's up with this narrator?

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Why is Clopin the narrator and also a repeating tertiary character? How does Cloplin know any of this? He obviously wasn't in the know when the story was taking place -- he didn't recognize Quasi at the Festival of Fools or when he visited the Court of Miracles. How is he getting privy information into an exchange that was only between Frollo and the Archdeacon?


Real inconsistent knowledge there, Clopin (but great wardrobe changes).

3. Are the gargoyles actually sentient or nah?

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It SEEMS like the gargoyles are just figments of Quasi's imagination. It makes sense -- he has had no friends his whole life, and these three comic-relief characters turn to stone when anyone appears. But then they interact with Esmeralda's goat and birds, as if there's some Toy Story "we'll pretend to be fake anytime someone appears" logic going on. Frollo comments on their existence, proving the physical forms of gargoyles are indeed present -- which makes you wonder if they aren't sentient, how are these giant stone rocks moving throughout the Church?

Most importantly, they contribute a lot to the end fight, showing that they can interact with the outside world and have an impact on the plot. Which if they ARE sentient creatures ... why did it take them so long to stand up for Quasi?!




4. Phoebus was down for genocide, and we're supposed to be okay with that?

Things That Bother Me About Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame


Frollo demonstrates very clearly via ant murder that he wants to kill all the gypsies, and our boy Phoebus is game. Sure, he later has a change of heart, but ... dude. Why are we supposed to forgive Esmeralda's romantic interest for supporting genocide but only changing his mind when he meets a chick he wants to bang??!




5. What's up with the Court of Miracles song? 

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The Court of Miracles is described by Frollo as a den of debauchery, and it ... kind of actually is. We assume Frollo is just making stuff up and vilifying the "enemy" to justify his cause.

But they are shown to actually be bad - not fun, bad, but like actually malicious.  They try to kill Quasi and Phoebus without reason (actually they are sentenced to death for being "totally innocent"). What lesson are kids supposed to learn here?




6. With Frollo's death, Disney implied a vengeful God exists.

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Throughout the movie, Esmerelda is held up as a symbol as goodness because she believes in a forgiving, loving God, but this sentiment is contradicted in the Frollo's death.

In the final battle, Frollo attempts to kill Esmeralda in a self-righteous burst of "He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into a fiery pit!"

The red eyes of the gargoyle light up before cracking from the church and plunging Frollo into a lake of molten copper and hypocrisy. The gargoyle could have just cracked from the weight of Frollo ... but, no, the choice to make the eyes light up means Disney wanted to show that God is real AND will actually punish the wicked.

Real cool divine intervention there, Big Guy -- sure sucks He didn't step in to save Mommy Modo's untimely death.



7.  What ethnicity is Quasi?

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Why did Disney make him a pale-skinned ginger? We see his mom and dad, who are both Romani with dark features. The punnett squares don't add up.



8. This sure has a lot of death and rape for a kid's film.

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All Disney films have a dark aspect, but this one touches upon everything terrible in the world: torture, public humiliation, capital punishment, rape, religious corruption, abuse, infanticide, and even genocide. 

I get it was based on the not-family-friendly Victor Hugo classic novel, but Disney actually made Frollo's character MORE evil. Who is the target audience for this animated movie?

9. What kind of volumizer does Esmeralda use?

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And where can I get some of that? Seriously, her hair is five times the size of her head.

10.  Why isn't this considered a Disney classic?


For all the darkness it has, it has great lessons. Regardless of your religious beliefs, God Help the Outcasts has the most selfless and caring message of any Disney film.


It broke the Disney Princess formula before
Frozen did. A man needing to be rescued by a woman? The lead realizing that that platonic love can be more important than romantic? A man realizing the friendzone is bullshit? Recognition of socioeconomic privilege and learning to overcome socialized racism? Great morals, 1997 Disney!

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Esmeralda was the most benevolent and badass of all the Disney princesses. I'm just saying, Disney World could use a few more Esmerelda rides.