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Awesome / The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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The novel

The Disney film

  • The opening song, "The Bells of Notre Dame".
    • Especially the last note that Paul Kandel (Clopin) hits FULL-VOICE.
      • If you look at the sheet music, it's a D on two ledger lines. Tenor parts are written an octave higher than they sound. Still, it is quite impressive. Especially when you consider how long he can hold that note without his voice giving out!
    • "'STOP!' cried the Archdeacon!"
    • The Warning Song when the Archdeacon says the lines below was very much a 'Oh, you're gonna get yours when it's over!' and it felt wonderful. Made even more awesome when it's clear that the "eyes of Notre Dame" in this verse does not refer to the Cathedral, but to the eyes of Notre Dame (Our Lady) the Virgin Mary herself.
      Archdeacon: You can lie to yourself and your minions,
      You can claim that you haven't a qualm,
      But you never can run from nor hide what you've done,
      From the eyes! The very eyes of Notre Dame!
      Choir: Kyrie Eleison!
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    • Then the cathedral itself gets one with all the statues — particularly the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus — glaring down at Frollo, as if God is saying "Yeah, throw that baby down the well, you son of a bitch, and see how pissed I get." Frollo's wary and fearful expression as he feels the stone eyes of the statues upon him just seals the deal.
      "And for one time in his life of power and control, Frollo felt a twinge of fear for his immortal soul".
    • In conclusion, it's easy to understand why this is considered one of the best openings to a Disney film ever.
  • The Archdeacon in general gets a number of these, at least of the moral sort since (naturally) as a churchman he doesn't get involved in any action scenes. Of particular note is during Frollo's siege of the cathedral:
    Archdeacon: Frollo, have you gone mad?! I will not tolerate this assault on the house of God!
    • When Phoebus gets Esmeralda to claim sanctuary so she is safe from Frollo. Not only does he stalk forward to interrupt just as Frollo is demanding Phoebus drag Esmeralda outside so he can arrest her, but then he lays a hand on her shoulder reassuringly and delivers a deceptively mild but delicious rebuke, referencing his "very eyes of Notre Dame" moment above:
      Archdeacon: Don't worry, child. Minister Frollo learned years ago to respect the sanctity of the Church.
      • The look of impotent, teeth-gnashing fury on Frollo's face is wonderful.
      • Also, the glare of the Archdeacon when he said that line. Frollo feared the Archdeacon. He placed guards with polearms in front of the cathedral, specifically to prevent the Archdeacon from interfering. Props to the Archdeacon for trying to interfere anyway.
      • All the Archdeacon moments take an even more impressive gloss when you learn that in the original book Frollo is the Archdeacon, meaning that the Disney film can be said to use two characters to illustrate the internal debates that Frollo has, and therefore Frollo casting the Archdeacon down is equivalent to him discarding pretense in order to enact his desires.
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  • "Hellfire". Coupled with awe-inspiring animation and the amazing and sadly gone voice of the late Tony Jay, Disney had the perfect Sanity Slippage Song. In fact, this is arguably the greatest villain song if not one of the greatest musical moments in Disney history. If you search it on Youtube you would find an entire list of covers to it. It was so effective that it would be 13 years until another villain would get their own musical number!
  • Quasimodo's incredible escape, rescue of Esmeralda from the stake, cries of "SANCTUARY!", and the image of waterfalls of molten lead pouring from Notre Dame.
  • Quasi slumps down in chains when Frollo is about to burn Esmeralda, then slowly looks up. As Frollo sets the fire, Quasi lets out a tremendous "NOOOOO!" proceeding to break the chains, save the girl, and kick some arse. He shakes the entire cathedral with his exertions!
    • The filmmakers considered the entire movie an elaborate prologue for that very moment.
    • There's no way this scene isn't epic. Just read it:
      (Quasimodo is chained down, the gargoyles are trying to free him)
      Hugo: Come on, Quasi, snap out of it!
      Victor: Your friends are down there!
      Quasimodo: (Despondently) It's all my fault.
      Laverne: (As she, Hugo, and Victor try tugging the chains) You gotta break these chains.
      Quasimodo: (Grim) I can't. I tried. What difference would it make?
      Victor: But you can't let Frollo win!
      Quasimodo: He already has.
      Hugo: So, you're givin' up? That's it?
      Laverne: These chains aren't what's holding you back, Quasimodo.
      Quasimodo: (Snapping) Leave me alone.
      Hugo: (Meekly) Okay. Okay, Quasi. We'll leave ya alone.
      Victor: After all, we're only made out of stone.
      (He and Hugo turn to stone.)
      Laverne: We just thought maybe you were made of somethin' stronger.
      (Laverne turns to stone.)
      Frollo: (From the square below) For justice, for Paris, and for her own salvation, it is my sacred duty to send this unholy demon... back where she belongs!
      (He fires the kindling while the crowd indistinctly shouts in protest)
      Quasimodo: NOOOOOOOOOO!
      (The chains snap taut and the bells resonate as the pillars Quasimodo is chained to break and fall.)
    • He then swings down from the cathedral on the bell-pull rope, freakin' wall-run loops off the south tower and into the square, over the heads of the massive crowd, landing on the gallows, leaps onto the flaming bier, rips the bonds off with his bare hands and grabs the unconscious Esmeralda, tears her still burning stake off the pyre and wallops the guards with it as they climb onto the gallows to stop him, then swings back and scales up the hundred feet walls to stand with her limp body in his arms in front of the great rose window, bellowing "SANCTUARY!" as the masses cheer him on.
      • It's not just the chains that Quasimodo breaks, but the pillars they're bound to. The gargoyles were right — he is stronger than stone. On top of that, the bells resonating could be interpreted as Notre Dame herself crying out against the injustice occurring before it.
      • Speaking of the cheering masses: most were already afraid of Frollo and prejudiced against gypsies. Many had their houses burned to the ground (some may have even been imprisoned and tortured, and it's implied many have died) because Frollo became obsessed with a gypsy girl. Now she's been captured and is about to be burned alive, and what do they do? Do they cower, thinking that at least now things will turn back to normal? Do they cheer, believing the witch responsible for all their suffering is going to get her rightful punishment? Hell. No. They stand there in protest (some of them even trying to get through Frollo's guards to put a stop to it), defying the very man that terrorised them, just because they know Esmeralda is innocent. Even before Phoebus rallies everyone behind him, it's very clear that Paris was on the verge of revolting against Frollo. It really hammers the point that people like Frollo are the only reason the world is cruel (also counts as heartwarming).
      • And of course, there is the actual rallying by Phoebus and the entire crowd freeing the arrested gypsies and charging the guards.
        Phoebus: Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people! Ransacked our city! Now, he has declared war... ON NOTRE-DAME HERSELF! WILL WE ALLOW IT?!
        Crowd: NO!
  • Frollo weaponizing his cape to drag Quasimodo off of Notre Dame? Awesome. Swinging around on his cape to climb back up the cathedral? Also awesome.
  • Frollo gets another one of his own awesome moments when instead of fleeing from the cascade of molten lead Quasi is pouring down on the besiegers, he pushes onward under the archway and hacks a hole through the rest of the double doors with his broadsword after his troops have only partially breached it with the battering ram they made of the timber cross-beam the Hunchback threw at them.
  • When Frollo tells Esmeralda how she can get out of being burned by having sex with him, her response is to spit in his face and give him a Death Glare.
    • Esmeralda stops the crowd from tormenting Quasimodo and tells Frollo where to shove it when he orders her to stop.
      Esmeralda: You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help.
      Frollo: Silence!
      Esmerelda: Justice!
    • For added awesomeness, the scene where she escapes with gusto, doubling as a Funny Moment. Anybody who thinks all Disney women are weaklings shall henceforth be directed to that scene.
      Esmeralda: Let's see... [Counts the guards.] Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnine... so there's ten of you and one of me. [Pulls a handkerchief out of her blouse.] What's a poor girl to do? [Affected sobbing.]
      • It was especially awesome to see a few of the costumed partygoers assist her in taking out the Mooks. And to top it all off, a tightrope walker tosses his balancing pole to two guards on horseback, causing them to unwillingly crash into Frollo himself. Considering that he had refused to protect Quasimodo from the cruel crowd just moments earlier, it was a very satisfying sight.
  • It immediately bites him in the ass, but Frollo standing atop a gargoyle, sword raised above his head, and shouting "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!" is quite an unforgettable and terrifying way to go out.
    • Deliciously ironic, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of way- this is the very same gargoyle he damaged while rampaging at Esmeralda and Quasimodo only moments before. Just after that, another Moment of Awesome at Frollo's final expense when after taking a tumble off the battlements, the "4th gargoyle" he's desperately hanging on to comes to life, roars in his face, and "ushers" him into said pit.
    • Even more ironic when you consider that in these biblical words 'He' references God. Frollo KNOWS that. He now thinks of himself as a god, with the power over life and death.
    • After Frollo's last words, the face the Gargoyle makes just before the plunge seems to say "Hey, there's an idea!" The look of sheer terror on Frollo's face as the demonic visage snarls at him is a beautiful thing to behold too.
    • By this point, Frollo had grown to be so evil, that some Youtube comments have interpreted that scene as God descending into Hell and granting the Devil himself permission to enter His highest cathedral to personally collect Frollo's soul.
      • The Youtube comments are backed up by the fact that when Frollo loses his balance and is holding onto the gargoyle, as it springs to life, the choir sings "Kyrie Eleison" (Lord have Mercy). God probably would show Frollo as much mercy as Frollo has shown others.
    • Or here's another idea. What were Gargoyles originally meant to do? Exactly, ward off evil.
    • When you consider the Archdeacon saying Frollo learned to respect the sanctity of the church, and he spent the entire scene attacking it and violating sanctuary... well, that ladies and gentleman is what happens to those who don't respect the sanctity of the church.
    • They remade this scene in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, not once, but twice. The first time is once you beat the boss as Sora, which shows the movie version, the second time is before you fight the boss as Riku, where the force of the Nightmare flying just causes Frollo to fall, all while he happily claims "Judgment is mine!!"
    • Esmeralda deserves a mention for that scene as well. Despite being weakened from smoke inhalation (and probably rough handling too), she still does her best to hold Quasimodo up on the ledge. Even Frollo standing above her with his sword raised doesn't make her let go.
  • Phoebus refuses Frollo's order to burn down the miller's house, saves the miller's family after Frollo sets fire to the house anyway, and runs away by stealing Frollo's horse!
    • The method by which he saves the family is worth mentioning. Highlights include rolling out of the way of a falling beam, diving headfirst through a glass window, then emerging from the burning house by Sparta-punting open the door, while holding the miller's two young children. Definitely elevated Phoebus from generic Disney male love interest to a much more developed and compelling (not to mention badass) character.
      • This exchange, just before Esmeralda saves him from being executed, simply seals the moment:
        Frollo: Such a pity. You threw away a promising career.
        Phoebus: Consider it my highest honor, sir.
  • Anything Clopin did; opening the Feast of Fools, the ambush, the Court of Miracles song...
    • Triples as a Funny Moment and Awesome Music! "The Court of Miracles" deserves a mention, though.
      Clopin: Any last words?
      Quasi and Phoebus: [Gagged and about to be hanged] Mmmmphhff!
      Clopin: [Rolling his eyes and giving an Aside Glance] That's what they all say.
  • Esmeralda vs. the soldiers after the Feast of Fools incident. One lone unarmed woman managed to make complete fools of the soldiers by evading capture and getting help from her performer allies. Aladdin would be proud.
  • Quasimodo's Kubrick Stare as he decides that he's had enough of Frollo's crap when he's chained up in the cathedral.
  • Seriously, the fact that in a Disney movie we have the villain attempting to shiv his adopted son in the back with a foot-long mercy dagger only for our hero to spin round and physically confront his foster father by grabbing his wrist at the last second. The pair struggle, Frollo pushing the stiletto inch by inch closer to Quasi's face; who is too traumatized at the assault to fight back against his guardian until he hurls that bastard bodily away and disarms him. Quasimodo then raises said weapon over his attacker's now trembling form and gives him the mother of all Calling the Old Man Out speeches. Frollo has treated him like garbage for twenty years, to the point where Quasimodo just weakly obeys his will. This is essentially when Quasimodo is saying "screw you, I'm not listening to you anymore" and finally stands up for himself (although breaking out of the cathedral and saving Esmeralda was definitely the first massive step in the right direction).
    Frollo: Now... now, listen to me, Quasimodo—
    Quasimodo: NO, YOU LISTEN! All my life you've told me the world is a dark, cruel place! But now I see that the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like YOU!
    • The look on Frollo's face as he realizes that a) he no longer has any influence over Quasimodo, who is b) less than half his age, c) strong enough to break his spine like kindling and most of all, d) really pissed off right now makes it even more satisfying. Frollo really was a coward and now all the abuse Frollo perpetrated on this poor deformed boy has come back to bite him in the ass.
    • On top of that is something most people are going to miss. Right as Quasimodo calls the old man out on being dark and cruel, Quasi throws down the knife that he just wrestled away from the psycho. One of the many signs of just how different the two of them are; Frollo would have not hesitated to shank his adopted son if their positions were reversed.
  • "Out There". The whole song just makes you so grateful to be alive. Not to mention Tom Hulce's singing voice is totally cool.
    • "God Help The Outcasts". To understand how Awesome this song is, first, understand that Sanctuary only applies for forty days, at which point, the offender must surrender peacefully, and may be sentenced after such period (at the best, she would have been deported, which we have to believe is a worse fate than staying in Paris under Frollo's rule, and at worst a death sentence). Further more, she is admittedly not Christian ("I don't know if you can hear me, or if you are even there.") so Sanctuary doesn't really apply to her. Compound to the fact that the Archdeacon is not legally obligated to feed her - even though, let's face it, in this case he almost certainly would - and armed guards are waiting at every point to catch her if she leaves the church, Esmeralda is in a desperate state and deserves her "I Want" Song to be answered. So, what does she want in her "I Want" Song? She asks God to not worry about her, cause she can take care of herself, and instead says she wants him to look out for people in much more desperate situations. Keep in mind, this non-Christian is schooling devout Catholics who ask for money, love, glory, etc. in the art of prayer and approaches the Virgin Mary's figure with humility. In a meta way, this is a beautiful way of balancing the topic- she might not be baptized or even a believer, but she adheres to the spirit of the faith as much as the Archdeacon does, in contrast to Frollo and some of the other people who are praying in the Cathedral.
  • Phobeus and Esmeralda in hand-to-hand combat in the cathedral. Better considering their back and forth snarking and flirting. Then when Frollo comes barging in, Phoebus thinks on his feet and quietly encourages Esmeralda to claim sanctuary; when she doesn't play along he bluffs and does it for her, quite possibly saving her life.
  • Frollo gets one when he suddenly shows up at the Court of Miracles.
    Esmeralda: You took a terrible risk coming here. It may not exactly show, but we're grateful.
    Phoebus: Don't thank me, thank Quasimodo. Without his help, I'd never have found my way here.
    Frollo: [From off-screen] Nor would I.
  • Despite everything Frollo put Quasi through, including just trying to kill him and revealing the truth about how Quasi's mother died, Quasimodo is trying desperately to hang on to Frollo; he doesn't want to kill him, even though if he did let Frollo fall to his death it would be justified.
    • It's beautiful how subtly it is represented. Most other films place emphasis on how the hero refuses to kill the villain, but here it's simply the refusal to let go, without any acknowledgement in dialogue.
  • "No soldiers! Sanctuary! Get Out!!" When Quasimodo lifts Phoebus off the ground, his strength is a CMOA of itself. To elaborate: He lifts a relatively tall and muscular man, who's wearing plate armor with one hand, without noticing he'd done so.
  • Quasimodo's mother deserves a mention; she managed to stay ahead of a galloping horse in the middle of winter - with plenty of snow and ice on the ground that she could have slipped on - leap a railing to try to escape Frollo, and have enough presence of mind to get to the cathedral and claim sanctuary. All while carrying baby Quasimodo.
  • A more subtle one can be given to the gypsies that Frollo interrogates while searching for Esmeralda. Given that the gypsy community in Paris is pretty tight-knit, it's likely they knew where Esmeralda was hiding and facing the likelihood of imprisonment and torture, it would have been very tempting to sell her out in the hope that Frollo would spare them. They refuse to do so.
  • The fact that Disney had the balls to release this, a movie with themes of lust and fanaticism, is awesome enough.

The stage musical

  • The Finale goes like this: Quasimodo, like in the movie, sends down BOILING LEAD down onto the attackers below. He even says this with this following line:
    Quasimodo: Saints and Monsters, show your power! Help me bring this raging shower, raining flames down... to the stones... BELOW!
  • The entire choir whispering "Yes, you do." to Quasimodo as Frollo insisted that the hunchback didn't truly want to hurt him.
  • After Phoebus refuses to burn down a brothel in the hunt for Esmeralda, Frollo has him arrested. Cue Esmeralda throwing off her disguise and starting a swordfight with the soldiers, which is of course her MOA. But then she falls and Frollo moves to stab her, only to have Phoebus catch the dagger with his body.
  • Towards the end of the show, after Esmeralda has died, Frollo comes up to the bell tower where Quasi is, and begins to give thanks that they are now, in his words "Free of Esmeralda"; Quasimodo gets increasingly more angry, calling Frollo out on his lack of love for anything, saying "You're the weak one. You're the wicked one. And the wicked shall not go unpunished!". As he says the last line, he fully straightens his back, sounding like it takes enormous effort, stands upright to face his master, and the audience can see that he is in fact taller than Frollo.


  • The original point of the novel was to raise public awareness for architectural preservation, specifically of, you guessed it, the Cathedral De Notre Dame De Paris. Before then the idea of preserving any structure that was no longer useful was entirely alien to the world. In a few years after the original novel was published the city decided to restore Notre Dame cathedral, and France started a campaign to preserve other historical buildings. Its really hard to find another work of fiction that decidedly turned around a cultural trend as quickly as this one.


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