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Film: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

There have been numerous live-action film versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame:

The American 1923 black-and-white silent version produced by Universal featured Lon Chaney as Quasimodo.

The American 1939 black-and-white sound version produced by RKO Pictures featured Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda.

The French-Italian 1956 color version produced by Paris Film Productions and Panitalia featured Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo and Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda.

The British-American 1982 version produced by Norman Rosemont and Malcolm J. Christopher featured Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo and Derek Jacobi as Frollo.

The 1997 television film produced by Stephane Reichel and directed by Peter Medak featured Mandy Patinkin as Quasimodo, Salma Hayek as Esmerelda and Richard Harris as Frollo.

For the Disney version, click here.


These films provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism / Decomposite Character: In the 1923 and 1939 films, Claude Frollo becomes a saintly archdeacon, his villainous role instead given to his brother Jehan.
  • Battering Ram: In all versions, Quasimodo drops a long piece of wood onto the rabble attacking Notre Dame and the rabble use it as an improvised battering ram.
  • Chronic Villainy: In the 1997 film, after being forced to publicly confess and being forgiven by Quasimodo, a newly reformed Frollo relapses into homicidal madness upon seeing Esmerelda.
  • Counting to Three: In the 1939 version, when confronted with a begger who refuses to pay his share into the common fund, Clopin gives him to the count of three to reconsider — and stabs him just as he says, "Three."
  • Death by Adaptation: Frollo's stabbing of Phoebus is fatal in the 1939 version.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Quasimodo in the 1939 film (in all the others, his death makes this trope moot.)
  • Feel No Pain: In the 1939 film, when Quasimodo is whipped, he shows no signs of pain. Onlookers are stunned.
  • The Grotesque: Quasimodo in all versions. Anthony Quinn's version is by far the least grotesque.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Quasimodo holds Frollo over the edge of Notre Dame in the 1997 film, in order to make him confess to the murder for which Esmerelda was blamed.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The 1939, 1956 and 1997 versions feature King Louis XI of France.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Quasimodo does this to Frollo in the 1982 version.
  • Murder by Mistake: In the 1997 film, Frollo picks up a dagger to kill Esmerelda; Quasimodo intervenes and is unintentionally and fatally stabbed as a result.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: The 1939 version has sexually frustrated villain Frollo staring at Esmeralda's breasts when they meet for the first time.
  • The Penance: Frollo whips himself severely several times in the 1997 film, in a vain attempt to curb his desire for Esmerelda.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Quasimodo in the 1939 version, and Esmerelda in the 1923, 1939, 1982 and 1997 versions.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Quasimodo gets flogged in all versions. Frollo does this to himself in the 1997 version.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Esmeralda is released, the rioters end their siege of Notre Dame and happily escort her through Paris. Their dead and dying comrades are quickly forgotten.

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