A gem that has several very visible flaws; yet, with these flaws, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" shines as the best from the Disney factory yet. For, at first, the company name and movie title didn't quite appear to sit well together. You don't marry the king of novel Gothic gloom (Mr. Victor Hugo) with one of the world's most beloved (if not biggest) animation companies and expect the usual world population to be at the reception; but expect even Mr. Walt Disney to pat himself on the shoulder blade (or what's left of it) for allowing a hideous hunchback to be transformed into a Gene Kelly-Incredible Hulk combo type of hero.
This "hero" is Quasimodo (Tom Hulce), which by the way means half-formed. It's about his distorted education (whoever teaches the alphabet using abomination, blasphemy, condemnation, damnation and eternal damnation ?), his humiliation (being crowned the king of fools), his first love and his big, big heart. It's about how our outward appearances should not matter (sounds familiar?). It's about believing in yourself but not being self-righteous. And it's about reliving the magic of Oscar-nominated "Beauty and the Beast", directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale (both, incidentally, were also responsible for "Hunchback".)
Wise and Trousdale obviously had a vision that didn't exactly conform to your usual "and they lived happily ever after" type of fairy tale. They employed a lot of artistic license when rewriting the plot. It was, after all, a cartoon; but they didn't allow it to become an excuse to dissolve the poignancy and tragedy into nothingness. Quasimodo did not get the girl. Nobody exactly lived "happily ever after". There was an amazing amount of implicit blood and violence. All that with Quasimodo's unrestrained outburst near the end and the best animated celluloid representation of the kiss contribute to the real emotions that flowed from the characters.
Talking about being real, the drawings in...
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