21st June 2016 marks two decades since the release of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The film, adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel, featured the voice talents of Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Tony Jay and Kevin Kline. It was a success both commercially and critically; grossing the fifth highest of all films that year, while its score was nominated for numerous accolades including the Academy Award and Golden Globe.
The film was both celebrated and criticised for its darker themes, many of which were deemed much too inappropriate for a children’s movie; even if the film is a much tamer version of the original novel. Despite this, the film still offers powerful themes and plot devices including lust, the abuse of power, infanticide and damnation. These themes were considered much too heavy for a Disney film, and consequently, the film is not as well-loved or remembered as some of the others from that period. In my opinion, and also the opinion of many critics, it is these themes and the willingness to be provocative that make this film such a powerful and important one in the history of Disney classics.
The soundtrack, penned by Disney legend Alan Menken is phenomenal, and much like the narrative content of the film, is unafraid to tread on dark and more sinister themes. ‘Hellfire’ sung by the villain, Claude Frollo, about the lust he feels for the gypsy Esmeralda, is considered by many Disney fans to be one of the most prolific and in fact best, of Disney villain songs.
Many of the other songs are also exemplar of Menken’s talent, and have gone on to be reused and reproduced for the Broadway adaptation of the film which opened to audiences earlier in 2016.
Remind yourself of the joys of Quasimodo’s animated adventures in the video below.