Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This movie was released the year I was born so it is quite old. Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame is based on the 1829 book of the same name by Victor Hugo. Had I continued to study English Literature this year, I would have most likely looked at this book as one of the Gothic texts but alas I did not have the heart to write an essay about metaphors.

The reason that I am reviewing this old movie is that as we speak it is on the British television channel 'Channel 5' and I am sat watching it. How could I not?

As a child I did not like this movie, much like many other children. When I was about 14 I re-watched it with some friends as part of a "Disney fest", where we stuffed our faces with with pizza and ice cream whilst crying as Mufasa falls to his death.

One thing I have been thinking for the last 30 minutes is that whoever had to animate the cathedral in Notre Dame must of had their work cut out for them. Considering that the magnificent cathedral features throughout the majority of the film, Disney did one hell of a job. In fact they did a brilliant job with the majority of the animation. A lot of the characters have bright colours on them somewhere to contrast the gloomy background.

Another thing that has made me think is the adult content. Esmeralda has already embarked on a makeshift pole dance whilst the crowd gets riled up and enticed the sexually frustrated Archdeacon. This later leaks into the song "Hellfire" which is basically about his desire to have Esmeralda as his mistress or kill her... did Disney really make these songs for kids?

Also the themes of discrimination are laid on a little thick for a young audience. Usually Disney is subtle with the message, where as you re-watch them later in your life you can figure out new things, but this is pretty clear. I am not saying this is a bad thing, because it actually makes the story rich and relevant, but is it appropriate for the audience? Disney has portrayed dark scenes featuring the antagonist trying to murder a family, including a new born child, by placing them "under house arrest" and then proceeding to set it on fire in search for the gypsy who has stirred his long ignored sexuality.

Personally I love this film but as part of Channel 5's Sunday evening family film I question it. The themes seem to be truly Gothic, and though it is not as dark as the book, it has created a dark and graphic portrayal of these themes.

Child me rating:2.5/5
Current me rating: 4/5


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