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Film / Quasimodo d'El Paris

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Quasimodo d'El Paris is a 1999 French comedy film directed by and starring Patrick Timsit. It is inspired by Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and updates the setting to the late 1990s.

In the (fictional) modern-day city of El Paris, Quasimodo is the young son of the local governor. He gets targeted by a curse thrown by a shady man known as Trouillefou, and he ends up physically abused by his father, so much so that he becomes a deformed hunchback. Quasimodo is then abandoned by his parents, who adopt a beautiful little girl named Esmeralda to replace him, and grows up at the city's cathedral where he rings the bells, under the watch of the priest named Frollo. Fast forward twenty years, in Quasimodo's adulthood, a Serial Killer starts targeting the women of El Paris, and due to his formidable strength, Quasimodo ends up a prime suspect...


Quasimodo d'El Paris features examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Pretty much every character with a name originating in Victor Hugo's novel. We're talking about a tragic novel being adapted into a straight comedy, after all.
  • Adaptational Job Change:
    • Phoebus is a police captain in this version, although it's more or less analogous to the medieval captain of the guard the character originally is.
    • Trouillefou (Clopin Trouillefou in the novel) is the leader of the Gypsies in the novel. Here he's a shady trafficker.
  • Adaptational Wealth: Esmeralda wasn't raised among non-rich gypsies this time around, she's been adopted by a wealthy family.
  • Artistic License – Politics: There is no such thing as a "governor" for French cities (the closest would be prefect technically, in practice it sounds closer to mayor — mayors can be limitlessly reelected and the governor has ruled El Paris for over 20 years), although El Paris is a fictional city to begin with.
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  • Big "YES!": Quasimodo lets one out in the cathedral after he manages to beat his previous record for ringing them as fast as he can and descending by rope.
  • Corrupt Church: Frollo knows where Quasimodo comes from, but went along with what the boy's parents did.
  • Fictional Province: El Paris is a fictional city, obviously based on (and filmed in) Paris.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: An odd case. The city is called "El Paris", there are Spanish signs everywhere, but it was obviously filmed in Paris, and everyone speaks French otherwise.
  • Hate Sink: Quasimodo's upper class biological parents are complete assholes who did everything they could to abandon him once he started becoming The Grotesque (his father caused him to become this in the first place), and eventually replaced him with Esmeralda (and they bought her, on top of this). Nothing is Played for Drama, but they still come off as even worse than, say, the Cobblepots in Batman Returns.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Poor Quasimodo was thrown around as a baby and as a young child by his father for the latter believed him to have been cursed by Trouillefou. As a result, he became a hunched grotesque. It's all Played for Laughs, still.
  • Parental Abandonment: Quasimodo's parents do everything to abandon their son once he becomes difformed. At one point, Quasimodo manages to come back home on his own after being abandoned 500 kilometers from there.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Esmeralda became this for Quasimodo's parents after they abandoned him. Quasimodo's mother even says she's always wanted a girl.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Trouillefou supposedly curses Quasimodo right during his baptism at the beginning. Fearing the outcome, Quasimodo's father starts a series of freakouts in which he throws his son around during the latter's youth, turning him into a hunchback.
  • Setting Update: From the late 15th century in the original Hunchback of Notre-Dame story to the late 1990s.


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