The 34th cinematic offering from Walt Disney Animation Studios was a strange choice, given the type of movies that had preceded it. Nineteenth Century French Gothic literature doesn’t automatically lend itself as source material to an animated movie aimed at children, and while there are certainly dark elements in other Disney movies, Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notredame does seem to be particularly bleak.
Of course the 1996 movie does ‘Disney’ things up and we have talking gargoyles and a much happier ending that the original novel. But there’s only so much you can lighten this tale, and in particular, the main antagonist, Frollo, remains pretty unsettling by the standards of Disney’s usual fare.
I actually think it’s a pretty good movie for the most part, although the talking gargoyles are probably unnecessary. It’s not really for kids though.
The less said about the ‘straight-to-video’ sequel the better, although that is significantly more child-friendly and clearly not based on anything Hugo wrote.
Score for Christmasishness
It’s really got nothing to do with Christmas, but there is a bit at the start of the movie called ‘The Feast of Fools’ that is expressly mentioned as happening on January 6th. Which is potentially the twelfth day of Christmas, depending on how you count. It’s certainly close enough to make the cut given the tenuous reasons on which I’ve based the inclusion of other movies in my annual countdown.