This, Disney’s 34th animated movie, is ‘inspired’ (i.e. don’t expect it to be quite as tragic) by the classic Victor Hugo novel, but is probably best employed as entertainment and an introduction to literature for younger viewers than as an accurate interpretation of the novel for students. High above Paris, in the bell tower of Notre Dame cathedral, lives Quasimodo (Hulce), a hunchback banished there by his master, Judge Frollo.
With only three stone statues – who come alive to dispense wisdom and wit – as his companions, he dreams of being a part of the city below, and decides to escape his tower to attend the Festival of Fools. It is there that he meets major babe Esmeralda (Moore), a gypsy dancer who incurs the wrath of evil Frollo, whose main aim is to rid the city of all gypsies, with the reluctant help of hunky army captain Phoebus (Kline).
Like the classics of Disney’s past, the villain is deliciously depraved and rather scary, the girl high-spirited and the heroes (Phoebus and the rather adorable Quasi) steadfast and true. Packed with wit, colour, beautiful animation, great songs and set pieces, and spot-on characterisations from the well-known vocal cast, this is delightful family entertainment. (Some scenes may be too scary for very young viewers.)
Is The Hunchback Of Notre Dame suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The opening scenes that show Quasimodo’s mother’s death and Frollo nearly dropping baby Quasi into a well will upset young children.
As an adult, he is pelted with fruit in the town and tied up, and there is a tense scene towards the end at the top of the cathedral.
Young children may also be upset by the animation during the Hellfire song that is sung by Frollo.