Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)

#1 by Andrew Woodcock ( deleted ) , Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:18 pm

I received my print of this a few days ago now and I decided to take some casual screen shots again last night of reel one (800ft) and then reel two this morning in daylight conditions and just on a textured paper wall for now to give it the once over.

This print is one of THE very best I have ever seen on Super 8mm. Wonderful colour, fabulously razor sharp image and the CGI effects, contrary to common understanding on this one, are reserved only for background scenery apparently. Just like Beauty & The Beast, all the characters are hand drawn and it does have the feel of the more traditional style Disney animated features except with more articulate background work.

Similarities between B&TB and this film are striking. Both contain many musical numbers throughout the film and an explosion of colourful action throughout. As well as both also having excellent storylines albeit very much "Disney adapted" in this particular case.

Here is what one reviewer made of it:
Disney adapts the famous novel by Victor Hugo into their 34th animated feature, telling the story of the lonely, deformed Quasimodo, the secluded bellringer of Notre Dame, who lives by himself in Notre Dame's church towers, with only three stone gargoyles named Victor, Hugo (get it?), and Laverne for company. At the gargoyles' playful urging, Quasi sneaks away from the church one day to attend the Festival Of Fools, and makes his first real human friend in the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmeralda. But soon, after Quasimodo is ridiculed by the crowd for his appearance, he and Esmeralda find themselves in trouble with Quasimodo's wicked stepfather, Frollo, the ruler of Notre Dame. With help from his three gargoyle friends, as well as the kind soldier Captain Phoebus (who has fallen in love with Esmeralda), it's up to Quasimodo to save Esmeralda and the town of Notre Dame itself from Frollo's evil control....

If you've been reading some of my other reviews, then you know by now that I'm a big fan of Disney animated features: "Snow White," "Fantasia," "Tarzan," and "Atlantis," to name but a few (and I do plan on reviewing more Disney films in the future). But now that I've just gotten reacquainted with Disney's 1996 film, "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame," finally released on DVD, I know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that this beautiful animated film is indeed my favorite Disney feature of them all (okay, so "Fantasia" arguably remains the best *animated* of the lot, but it certainly didn't have an actual plot). I don't think I've ever cried so much during a Disney movie. "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is, quite simply, a glorious triumph for Walt Disney Productions.

Granted, the Disney team have "Disney-ized" Hugo's original novel, such as turning it into a musical, including sidekick stone gargoyles that come to life, as well as the obligatory happy ending, but no matter. This is a truly wonderful animated film through and through that will touch you right down to your very soul. It's very well-written, surprisingly dark at times, gorgeously animated, very funny AND very dramatic at turns, with a first-rate voice cast including Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tony Jay & Jason Alexander, and beautiful, memorable songs by Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz. And I promise you, there won't be a dry eye in the house at the film's end, mark my words.

HOW, in Heaven's name, did the Academy overlook "Hunchback Of Notre Dame" altogether in 1997? Not even any nominations for the music! Absolutely outrageous. Perhaps with the five previous Disney films in a row being honored by the Academy, from "The Little Mermaid" through "Pocahontas," the Academy simply wanted to take a break from nominating Disney films, not realizing how truly brilliant "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" was. How very unfortunate that "Hunchback" had to fall victim to the Academy's ignorance that year.

Still, it takes nothing away from the remarkable achievement that this Disney film is. Against all the odds, the Disney team transformed Victor Hugo's novel into a truly lovely tale for all ages to enjoy. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll enjoy the music, you'll be moved. Step aside, "Beauty And The Beast"---"The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is the REAL Disney masterpiece from the last few years.

Onto the screen shots. As said not my best work by any stretch of the imagination. All different conditions while viewing and the usual saturation problem with the colours from being too close until I can finally get my screen back into it's rightful place.
Anyhow they will give you all an idea if nothing else and I would thoroughly recommend this film to any Disney fan, in particular, those who enjoy Beauty & The Beast.


Andrew Woodcock


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