5 Reasons Why You Should Love Disney's 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Disney's 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame'

Finding appreciation for an underrated classic.
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This year marks the twentieth anniversary for what I consider to be one of the most under-rated and under-appreciated Disney movies ever: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Critics and movie-goers just weren't ready for the type of movie this was. It was a bit of a change from Disney's normal routine. Whenever you hear people talk about their favorite Disney movies it's always, “I just love Aladdin!” or “The Lion King reigns supreme!” or “Beauty and the Beast will always be the perfect Disney movie!” Well, it is my hope to garner some much needed appreciation for one Disney's “ugly ducklings.” That said, here are five reasons why you should love “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

1. It went in a newer, slightly darker direction.

One thing I always appreciate about film-makers and studios is when they have the guts to try something new instead of always rehashing what has worked in the past. “Hunchback” came during a period known as the Disney Renaissance, which spans from 1989's “The Little Mermaid” to 1999's “Tarzan.” It was during this period that the Disney Studios experienced a surge in their creativity, producing box-office-smashing hits. Many of these were princess/love stories. “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pocahontas” are all terrific movies, but they are very much alike in structure and story.

According to Stephen Robello's book "The Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame," the idea to make a film version of Victor Hugo's classic novel came from development executive David Stainton in 1993. Over the next three years, Disney developed a film that was true to the original feeling and style of the novel, while still keeping it pretty much kid friendly. But even though it was kid-friendly, it was definitely darker than Disney's usual animated romp. Instead of the lead character being a dashing hero, he is a deformed man who pines for a woman from afar. He is constantly told from his “master” Frollo that he is ugly and useless. We also see sin (particularly lust) as a huge theme. That's right, lust. In a kid's movie. Judge Frollo tries to rid the city of Paris of all the gypsies, but when he meets Esmeralda he burns with lust (almost literally in the song “Hellfire”). The biggest detour away from the Disney norm is...(spoiler alert) our hero Quasimodo does not wind up with the girl he loves! Instead, he has to watch while she falls in love with someone else and breaks Quasi's heart in the process! Better learn these lessons fast kids. Life is tough. Deal with it.

2. Tom Hulce plays Quasimodo

Tom Hulce, in my opinion, is one of the best actors ever to be put on film. Best known for roles in “Amadeus” and “National Lampoon's Animal House,” Hulce plays the titular character of Quasimodo. Interestingly, Hulce was not the first choice for the voice of our favorite hunchback. Originally, Disney was looking at Mandy Patinkin (best known as Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride”), but the actor's style clashed with what the studio wanted. Hulce then auditioned, and was immediately hired. It seems like a no-brainer to me. Tom Hulce does the character of Quasimodo such justice. In Quasimodo we have this gruff and disfigured exterior, but when we hear him speak we hear a gentle soul longing for friendship and love. Hulce's voice perfectly captures that essence. I particularly love when Hulce sings the songs “Out There” and “Heaven's Light.” To be honest, Hulce doesn't have what I'd call the best singing voice in the world, but the quality of it matches the character. There's a small bit of naivete, yet there is the sense of an old soul and a big heart which holds a lot of genuine kindness. Hulce really brings this character to life, and makes him a distinctly unique and wonderful part of Disney's saga.

3. Alan Menken wrote the music

When it comes to Disney, no one does better songs or musical scores than Alan Menken. The man is a legend, having co-written the critically acclaimed music for “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” “Hercules” and “Tangled.” The music of “Hunchback” is just as memorable as Menken's other works. “The Bells of Notre Dame” is an epic prologue song that sends chills up the spine. “Topsy Turvy” is one of those songs that easily gets stuck in your head. Musically, for me, the highlight of the film is “Heaven's Light/Hellfire” which perfectly shows the viewer a glimpse of the souls of Quasimodo and Frollo. The song starts out light and soft with Quasimodo singing about his hope for love. It's a moment that really tugs at the heartstrings. We then segue-way into Frollo's song where he boasts about his “righteousness,” but being afraid of the lust he feels for Esmeralda. By the end of this haunting song, he shouts with fierceness that she will choose him or burn. The music is powerful. I will admit, I don't particularly care for the songs “God Help the Outcasts” and “A Guy Like You,” but the rest makes up for it. Really.


4. Perhaps the most sinister villain in Disney history


Frollo is perhaps the most sinister villain in any Disney movie. It helps that the character is portrayed by Tony Jay who is known for his chilling voice. Frollo is more than anything a vindictive religious hypocrite. This makes him all the more dangerous. He hates the “wickedness” of the gypsies and wants to eliminate them completely from his city. This proves to be quite a personal conflict when he experiences extreme lustful feelings for the gypsy Esmeralda (the same girl Quasimodo falls in love with). It is this lust that motivates him to take a more genocidal turn toward the gypsies. Another thing that makes him a great villain is his attitude toward Quasimodo. In the beginning of the film, we see Frollo kill Quasimodo's gypsy mother as she tries to flee from the authorities. Had it not been for the intervention of Notre Dame's arch-deacon, Frollo surely would have killed the infant Quasimodo because of his deformed appearance. As he raises Quasimodo, Frollo constantly reminds him that he is deformed, ugly and unacceptable in society. Seriously, what a scumbag! And then, just a side note, one thing he really has going for him is that he is very arrogant and smug. Personally, I have always found these to be the best qualities in a villain.

5. The artwork and animation is incredible!

The team of artists and animators who worked on this movie were

incredible! They did the city of Paris, and particularly Notre Dame cathedral some real justice. From here I'll just let the screenshots speak for themselves.

Behold:




Bonus reason: THIS GUY. 'Nuff said.


So, those are the reasons why I think there is so much more to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” than the majority thinks. It is finely crafted, and really one of Disney's better efforts. Hopefully, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for this film.

Cover Image Credit: Broadway World

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Severus Snape Is The Worst, And Here's Why

Albus Severus, sweetie, I'm so sorry...

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I grew up being absolutely obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise. I read the books for the first time in second and third grade, then again in middle school, and for the third time in my last year of high school. Recently, I had a somewhat heated argument with a fellow fan of the books about Severus Snape. As I've reread the Harry Potter books, I've noticed that, although J.K. Rowling tried to give him a redemption arc, he only got worse because of it. Here's why I still think Severus Snape is the absolute worst.

His love for Lily Potter was actually really creepy. When I was younger and reading the books, I always found the fact that he held fast in his love for Lily to be very endearing, even noble. However, rereading it after going through a couple of relationships myself, I've come to realize that the way he pined over her was super creepy. It was understandable during his time at Hogwarts; he was bullied, and she was the only one who "understood" him. However, she showed zero interest, and if that didn't clue him into realizing that he should back off, her involvement with James Potter should have. She was married. He was pining after a married, happy woman. If he truly loved her, he would have realized how happy she was and backed off. Instead, he took it out on her orphan son and wallowed in bitterness and self-pity, which is creepy and extremely uncool. When a girl is kind to a boy during high school (or in this case, wizard school), it's not an open invitation for him to pine for her for the literal rest of his life and romanticizes the absolute @#$% out of her. It's just her being a decent person. Move on, Severus.

He verbally abused teenagers. One of the most shocking examples of this is in The Prisoner of Azkaban when Snape literally told Neville Longbottom that he would kill his beloved toad, Trevor if he got his Shrinking Potion wrong, and then punished him when he managed to make the potion correctly. Furthermore, poor Neville's boggart was literally Snape. The amount of emotional torture Neville must have been enduring from Snape to create this type of debilitating fear must have been almost unbearable, and even if Snape was simply trying to be a "tough" professor, there is no excuse for creating an atmosphere of hostility and fear like he did in his potions class for vulnerable students like Neville. In addition, he ruthlessly tormented Harry (the last living piece of Lily Potter, his supposed "true love," btw), and made fun of Hermione Granger's appearance. Sure, he might have had a terrible life. However, it's simply a mark of poor character to take it out on others, especially when the people you take it out on are your vulnerable students who have no power to stand up to you. Grow up.

He willingly joined a terrorist group and helped them perform genocide and reign over the wizarding world with terror tactics for a couple of decades. No explanation needed as to why this is terrible.

Despite the constant romanticization of his character, I will always see the core of Severus Snape, and that core is a bitter, slimy, genocidal, manipulative trash being. J.K. Rowling's attempt to redeem him only threw obsessive and controlling traits into the mix. Snape is the absolute worst, and romanticizing him only removes criticism of an insane man who just so happened to be capable of love (just like the vast majority of the rest of us). Thank you, next.

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