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Fridge: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney film

Fridge Brilliance
  • Quasimodo's mother didn't just try to save him- she did. Think about it- why was the Archdeacon there so fast and so conveniently in the middle of the night? Simple. Because he was woken up by Quasi's mother pounding on the door outside, begging for sanctuary.
  • If you are one who believes that the gargoyles are figments of Quasimodo's imagination, then the way Frollo is killed is even more ironic. Frollo has finally lost it, so now he is hallucinating.
  • The opening musical number "The Bells Of Notre Dame" starts with a line sayings its the story of a monster. While it seems to be reffering to the mysterious bell ringer, it quickly becomes obvious that Frollo is the real monster in the story.
    • Also, Frollo kills Quasimodo's mother on the steps of the cathedral - the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Virgin Mother of Jesus. While Frollo feels the eyes of all the saints, we see a longer moment of her statue gazing down at him. This is a big chunk of what makes him so afraid.
  • As different as the Disney movie is from the original book, you could justify it by saying that the Disney version is the version that Clopin is telling to the kids he's performing for, while the book's version is closer to what really happened.
    • In that case, Clopin would be telling a highly sanitized version of a story (that may or may not keep a small part of the original message intact) to children and their parents. Kind of like Disney themselves.
      • For example omitting that part where he dies.
  • During the song "Heaven's Light", which is about Esmeralda, the gargoyles draw their impressions of Esmeralda. Hugo, however, draws Esmeralda's goat. The book had a character who was married to Esmeralda but found himself liking her goat much better. Maybe the Shout-Out wasn't intentional, but it's still pretty amusing.
    • Earlier, upon meeting the goat, Hugo un-freezes himself and makes a kissy face at the goat.
      • Also, in the -gag- sequel, Hugo and Djali (the goat) evidently get together during the Festival of Love.
  • Why were gargoyles placed in cathedrals? To protect them from evil. That's exactly what they do during the siege of Notre Dame and Frollo's death scene.
    • Not only that but, sometimes you've got to wonder. Are Quasi's gargoyle friends just figments of his imagination? Or... were they his "Guardian Angels"? Kinda makes you wonder, don't it?
  • In the song Hellfire, Frollo seems to beg forgiveness from God in the beginning but reveals his true feelings about Esmeralda by the end of the song. The structure of the song is exactly parallel to Quasimodo's song "Out There". In the song, Quasimodo is begging for forgiveness for thinking of the festival in the first half but reveals his true feelings about the festival by the end of the song. Both songs follow the structure of false loyalty followed by their true desires. Either this was used to contrast the two or show that Quasimodo really did inherit some traits from his adoptive father.
    • During Hellfire, Frollo is praying for divine assistance to commit rape from the only female in the Catholic cosmology at the time. Considering that, the fact that the endeavor would end in his downfall isn't that surprising.
  • Many people blame Disney for making Esmeralda fall for Phoebus and not for Quasimodo, arguing that it conveys the idea ugly people can never be loved. Except the point of the story is not love: it's how monstrous-looking Quasimodo is really human while human-looking Frollo is really a monster. Having both characters experience an unrequited love / desire and react very differently to it enable to clearly see this divide.
    • Esmeralda loved Phoebus because he saw her as her true self and loved her, rather than seeing her as a beautifully perfect angel, like Quasimodo, or an infuriatingly attractive witch, like Frollo.
    • This decision also highlights yet another contrast between Frollo and Quasimodo. Neither one can "get the girl", but while the former decides to (attempt to) kill her for it, the latter maturely lets her go.
  • When the Archdeacon tells Frollo that he can't run or hide from the eyes of Notre Dame, there's a double meaning. It doesn't just refer to the cathedral, "Notre Dame" is French for "Our Lady". This states that Frollo has incurred the wrath of the Virgin Mary.
    • Also, he incurred the wrath of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, by killing a mother who was protecting her baby, and then trying to kill said baby.
  • When Frollo is up in the bell tower and destroys Quasi's tabletop Paris while interrogating him for helping Esmeralda escape, he grabs the model of Esmeralda and, as he flings it across the table, it topples over the model version of himself. It's almost as if the tabletop itself knows that Esmerelda will lead Frollo to his downfall.
  • The color red is actually considered unlucky according to Gypsy culture. And at the Feast of Fools, Frollo actually saw Esmeralda pole dance in a skimpy red dress...
    • a red and PURPLE dress, much like the Whore of Babylon.
    • It could be because it's a day they do the things that they deplore on the other 364.
  • Esmeralda is actually Spanish for "emerald", and she has Green Eyes.
  • Quasimodo, despite actually being a Gypsy himself, has pale skin and red hair (Gypsies normally have dark skin and black hair). This is actually because of a genetic disorder, similar to what contributed to his deformed appearance.
  • "A Guy Like You" is full of unintentional Stealth Insults, as the Gargoyles are considered by some to be part of Quasimodo's imagination, it could be that he's reaching for nice things for them to say about himself, but his self-esteem is so low that they just come back as insults.
    • Another way to look at it is that they(or he, depending on which theory you buy into) are genuinely trying to comfort him(self) about what he hates most about himself, his appearance. Essentially saying his features make him special instead of monstrous as Frollo would claim. After all, he knows he's a nice guy, he's under no illusions that he's beautiful, and if they're alive, they're not the type who'd lie to him like that.
  • If one looks at how Quasimodo and Frollo view Esmeralda, they picture her as one of the two sides of the Madonna-Whore Complex. Quasimodo, while well-meaning, sees her as an incredibly pure, angelic being. Frollo sees her as a temptress and a harlot. Esmeralda proves that neither view is accurate. While she shows many pure qualities (a good heart, unconditionally loving Quasimodo, etc), she also is comfortable performing provocative dances to titillate her audience. In other words, Disney made her into a heroine who defies attempts to categorize her as either an angel or a whore, also reinforcing the idea that both images are demeaning and damaging to women. It also makes sense that Esmeralda chooses Phoebus. Of the three men who shows an interest in her, he's the only one who recognizes all the sides of her personality and treats her like an actual woman.
  • Think about how far into evil Frollo goes: He is a racist, genocidal hypocrite who claims to be holy and good and righteous. Plus, he violates the church's sanctity numerous times: He commits murder on its step and almost drowns an innocent baby, he almost violates Sanctuary before the Archdeacon stops him, and then when Quasimodo saves Esmeralda, he actually violates Sanctuary, ordering a full on attack on a cathedral, and assaults the archdeacon when he stops him. How does he die? He falls to his death when the gargoyle he damaged cracks and breaks when he is standing on it, after the gargoyle comes to life briefly and roars right after he reads a pseudo-biblical passage about how God shall smite the wicked!. Right before he falls, the lyrics "Kyrie Eleison" are heard. God must have been really really angry at this point!
    • Also, Frollo's demonic expression before the gargoyle cracks
  • The way that Frollo and Quasimodo each see the same woman, as shown in their two back-to-back songs, is similar to the way each views the cathedral itself. Frollo is afraid of what it represents (as he is reminded by the archdeacon that he can be judged for his sins) and so seeks to assert power over it and everyone who lives in and around it. Quasimodo sees Notre Dame as his sanctuary but what he soon realizes he needs is to get out in the world and experience it for what it really is even though Notre Dame will still be his home and he's still bellringer.
  • Why does Frollo think of Quasimodo as a monster? Well, he's a religious fanatic in a time when people believed in a microinterventionist God. His line of thinking was probably something along the lines of "if God had wanted this boy to be treated like a person, He would not have made him deformed".
  • When Quasimodo gives up Esmeralda, he shows what many churches call "Agape", or unconditional love. This truly underscores his Character Development, from a childlike worship of her which manifests in the form of an innocent Entitled to Have You complex, to truly respecting and understanding her.
  • Quasi and Phoebus fall in love with and marry a Nice Girl, who have Green Eyes, and in one way or another are very similar to them (Quasi and Madellaine are Adorkable, start off as very passive, and are genuinely good people who were raised by an abusive father figure; Phoebus and Esmeralda are full of snark, good at hand-to-hand combat, and do not like the bullying of the weak)
  • The climactic scene with Quasimodo claiming sanctuary for an unconscious Esmeralda. He's holding her in a way that is a subverted Touch of the Monster tableau, but also—coupled with her limply outstretched arms and the rose window behind them—calls the Pieta to mind. That puts him squarely in the role of the Virgin Mary, Notre Dame herself: a beautiful reinforcement of his link with the cathedral.
    • Both Esmeralda and Frollo had appealed to Mary in "God Help The Outcasts" and "Hellfire," respectively, as a kindred spirit. Notre Dame has made her choice.
    • To dig even deeper into the fridge (more like Freezer Brilliance), Quasimodo's symbolism, and that of his relationship with Esmeralda, actually changes over the course of the movie from Christ to Mother as his character develops—this may even be the turning point. First he is taken in, the son of an outcast mother with no visible father, and "mothered" by Notre Dame; is persecuted and reviled by the mob; worships Esmeralda as a sort of Madonna (while she identifies with the Virgin as a fellow outcast); and is hung in chains from the walls. By the end, however, he is the one watching her executed despite her innocence, and brings Notre Dame to life to stop it; he mourns over her apparently dead body, before she returns from the "dead"; and he finally relinquishes her to Phoebus, blessing their union like a parent, while remaining partnerless himself.
  • Unless I missed it, I didn't see anyone mention this. I was watching the movie on ABC Family when the scene where Frollo is searching all of Paris for Esmeralda comes up. Here is how it's Fridge Brilliance if you didn't grow up in a religious house. Now depending on who tells it, the number can change, but Frollo offers twenty pieces of Silver for Esmeralda. Now think about it; Who else was offered Silver in exchange for the life of another innocent human?
  • Quasimodo's implied delusions, the gargoyles, are notably non-human, yet rather friendly. Frollo's delusions, the red-cloaked figures from the Hellfire sequence, are noticeably humanoid, but cold and menacing. These parallel the characters of Quasimodo and Frollo themselves, reinforcing how one's humanity is independent of their outward appearance.
  • When Quasimodo was breaking his Chains the bells echoed loudly. If you look closely, Chains themselves never broke, but the pillars they were attached to did. Both Quasi's own strength and the echo of the Bells helped free him, further emphasizing the Cathedral's sentience.

Fridge Horror
  • More like What Could Have Been Fridge Horror. In the movie, Clopin seemed to have no problem killing Quasimoto along with Pheabus, labeling him as Frollo's henchmen. There are two deleted songs from this sequence that make this worrying. The first is called "A Place Of Miracles", in which Clopin is quite friendly with Quasi and seems to even accept him as one of their own, a gypsy. The next is called "As Long As There's A Moon", in which Clopin recognizes still Quasi as their King Of Fools.
  • Admit it, when you first saw this movie, you had no idea what Hellfire was really about.
  • The first time we see Frollo hunting for Esmeralda, he locks an innocent family inside a house and tries to burn it with them inside (including the children). Fortunately, Phoebus saves them, but later we see that a good portion of Paris has been burned down. With no one to help people escape, it is heavily implied that Frollo just executed mass murder.
  • Also, one wonders if Esmeralda is the first woman Frollo lusted after...
    • Given how horrified he is by both his "weakness" and his belief he's been bewitched, it's safe to say that she is. If he'd gone to such insane extremes before, he probably wouldn't have been around to see her in the first place.
  • It's implied that Frollo's level of abuse seen in the movie is his normal behavior.
    • As the most powerful person in Paris, he may have abused his power and used fear to make sure the soldiers (especially the captain of the guard) obey him without question. If they do, they get severely punished. We aren't told how long he was the judge, this may have been the norm for decades.
  • How many innocent people has Clopin executed thinking they were Frollo's spies?
    • Only as many as are willing to pull the lid off a casket. As that is the entrance, it's doubtful they had very many visitors.
  • A traditional way to scare children in many European countries is that if they disappoint their parents they'll sell them to the Gypsies. Now picture why Quasi does not look like his mother at all.
  • While it likely goes straight over the heads of most young viewers, older viewers may shudder when re-watching the scene in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame in which Frollo sniffs Esmeralda's hair. Dark, dark subtext. Additionally: Boiling lead being poured on soldiers offscreen; and the gargoyle (no, not one of the nice ones) roaring at Frollo before he falls to his doom. Wait — if the gargoyles are sentient, then does that count as a bonus death?
  • Remember that the story is being told by Clopin to a group of children. Imagine how they're reacting when he's recounting how he almost murdered the heroes. While singing a jaunty tune for extra psycho points.
    • He probably skimmed over it or something. "Now, I won't go into any details, but let me just say that a very handsome man got into an honest misunderstanding with them..."
    • Actually, only the beginning seems to be what Clopin is telling the children. If you notice, the way he speaks to them ("[the bells] don't ring by themselves") indicates that at this point, Quasimodo is still forbidden from leaving the bell tower, as if he were allowed to leave, the children would have probably seen him before and known that he was the bell ringer.
  • At the end of the film, Esmeralda is forced to wear a long, white dress to her execution. This implies that all of her other dresses were presumably destroyed by Frollo so that he can have her executed properly. Now try and guess where Esmeralda hid that dress the whole time...
    • Underneath her purple one (the one she normally wears).
  • When Frollo taunts Esmeralda by saying, "Gypsies don't do well behind stone walls," most of us as kids probably thought he was just bullying her about how she's used to traveling around outside, rather than being locked up in a cathedral. But actually, Frollo may be thinking of all the Gypsies he's had imprisoned and tortured in the Palace of Justice.
    • That, and the fact that most Gypsies, especially at this time, where still nomads traveling from place to place, only resting in towns for a few days to get wealth, materials or foods. So he's mocking her for her people's culture.
  • Quasimodo was brought up by Frollo. In fact, the only other human Quasimodo has ever known and interacted with is Frollo.
  • The Palace of Justice must be like Auschwitz. Frollo probably lets his soldiers torture and rape the Gypsies and other people imprisoned within the walls of the fortress before slaughtering them.
  • At the end when Frollo, Quasimodo, and Esmeralda were on top of Notre Dame, at one point Quasimodo is standing on top of a gargoyle, and Frollo tries to knock him off with a cloth. Fortunately, he grabs onto the ledge, but if he did fall, there's no telling what Frollo would have done to Esmeralda, the two of them being up there alone...
  • From the sequel: Madellaine tells Quasimodo that Sarousch Would Hurt a Child. How did she find that out, exactly?
    • Also, Sarousch has shown to have some sort of attraction with Madellaine, the woman he raised since she was a little girl. And with the guy also being a sociopath....
  • Of course it's clear to viewers of any age that Frollo is evil. But when watching the film through adult eyes, it becomes apparent that Frollo is a textbook emotional abuser, using the same tactics on Quasimodo that real life abusers employ on their victims: isolating him from outside influences, telling him he is worthless and that without Frollo he will be helpless, and blaming Quasimodo for his own destructive actions ("Now all Paris is burning because of you!")

Fridge Logic

  • Frollo burns a house down after locking the family inside. Why would you design a door so it could be barricaded shut from the outside?
    • If you look, it's a handle on the door which conveniently serves as the barricade support. That said, fridge logic might come into play if one questions exactly what that house is made out of given its ignition speed...
      • Grain is extremely combustible and can explode if ignited in an enclosed area. Leather, wood, tar, thatch, and the other materials that would have been used to build the windmill are also dangerously flammable. Throw into that a presumably dry season and you've got yourself a live-in bonfire.
  • Victor Hugo's full name was Victor-Marie Hugo. The two male gargoyles are called Victor and Hugo, after him. The third and female gargoyle is called... Laverne. Huh?
    • Quasimodo named a bunch of the bells "Marie." Doesn't explain specifically where Laverne's name comes from, but it does explain why she's not called Marie, at least.
      • No real explanation attached, but many web sources (imdb, etc) seem to think she was named after one of the "Andrews Sisters." Couldn't find anything confirmed by Disney, though.
    • Laverna was the Roman goddess of con artists and outcasts.
  • Frollo saw nothing wrong with drowning a baby, but he also didn't stop to think that a dead thing in the well would poison anyone who drank from it. If the Archdeacon hadn't caught him, not only would he have killed an infant, he probably would have killed half the people that drank from the well — which would have been a lot of people going into the cathedral, seeing as the two are next to each other. Not only is Frollo a douche, he's an idiot.
    • He was probably just going to hold Quasimodo under the water until he drowned and then bury him behind the church or something. Okay, that really isn't any better.
  • After Frollo falls into the molten lead, where did all of it go?
    • It should have cooled down relatively quickly with no outside source to heat it, though it does seem to disappear too quickly. Maybe the last scene took place a little while later than we're assuming it does, like maybe midday?
    • That's probably most likely. It looks as if it's just approaching dawn when Esmerelda and Phoebus reunite. It's visibly much brighter in the scene with the little girl. It'd take at least 3-4 hours for things to get that light. I'm assuming some of the citizens cleared some of the mess away in the meantime.
  • Frollo was actually right about the gypsies being a bunch of no-good thieves; the Court of Miracles does give shelter to non-thieves, apparently, but they even themselves say that all the criminals of Paris are there. Worse still, not only are they no better towards Quasimodo than anyone else, they did try to murder Quasimodo and Phoebus for finding them, all the while boasting about how they're a bunch of criminals.
    • He may have had a point but that doesn't excuse him wanting to commit genocide. In medieval times, a criminal could mean anything from a murderer to someone stealing a loaf of bread to feed themselves. And they were prepared to execute Quasimodo and Phoebus because they were known associates of Frollo. It's not like they just decided to execute two random people that wandered into their hideout. They thought it was an ambush or something. Granted they could have waited for an explanation but they have good reason to be cynical about the outside world. Esmerelda was too until her stay in the cathedral.
  • At the beginning, Quasi's mom is trying to sneak into Frollo-controlled Paris. Where the hell are they running from that a city under the thumb of a psycho with a boner for gypsy genocide is the better option?

The Disney stage musical

Fridge Horror
  • The musical makes the talking gargoyles much more obviously hallucinations/wish fulfillments by Quasimodo's damaged mind. The equivalent of Jason Alexander's Hugo in the film is the same, but the Victor gargoyle is made into more of a loving father figure, and the female of the trio is changed into a beautiful angel gargoyle named Loni, who seems to be both his source of motherly affection and romantically approachable. This is weird enough, but then you get to the final scene, in which Quasimodo is hesitating throwing Frollo off of the cathedral. Frollo pleads "You don't want to do this!", and Charles leans into Quasimodo's ear and whispers, "Yes, you do."

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