June 30, 1996 -- Several movies have made mega millions of dollars last summer, but one of the best was "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." It is also the best animated Disney film in a long time, the best since "Beauty and the Beast."
Kids may not like this film as much as "Aladdin" or "The Lion King" because "Hunchback" is more of an adult film than either of those.
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is based loosely on the book by Victor Hugo (whose name is given to a couple of characters in the film). The Hunchback, Quasimodo (voice by Tom Hulce), has been told by his guardian, the evil Judge Frollo, that he is worthless and should stay away from people. But in reality, Quasimodo, is both heroic and kind.
Quasimodo disobeys Frollo and is made "King of Fools" at a festival, but the crowd turns on him and he is treated cruelly. He is rescued by the beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda (voice by Demi Moore). In rescuing Quasimodo, Esmeralda runs afoul of Frollo, who secretly desires her.
Into this triangle steps another player, a heroic soldier, Phoebus (Kevin Kline does the voice). Both Phoebus and Quasimodo fall in love with Esmeralda, while Frollo tries to destroy them all to hide his hidden passion.
Most of this powerful story probably goes right over the heads of most children, but there's something for the kids as well. Three funny gargoyles break up the heavy drama from time to time with hijinks, songs and dances.
What is really outstanding about the film however is the beautiful artwork. Some scenes look almost three dimensional. One scene with Esmeralda inside the cathedral bathed in colored light from the stained glass window is exquisite.
This is classic Disney, a great story, lovingly crafted, with a solid musical score. It is a wonderful film for the whole family. It rates an A.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.