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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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

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The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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