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Western Animation / The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Golden Films)

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This is the 1996 Golden Films Animated Adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Victor Hugo novel), which strangely was released near the date of the Disney adaptation.

The story is about the hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo, and a Romani girl called Melody. The troubles are caused by Jean Claude, an arrogant, greedy killjoy who wants to stop Melody because he thinks she diminishes the taxes.


The film has examples of:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: Quasimodo's deafness from the books is absent. Not only that but he also ceases being a hunchback.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Quasimodo and Melody marry and supposedly will live happily ever after, in contrast to the "Everybody Dies" Ending of the book.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Quasimodo cannot really be called ugly, unlike Victor Hugo's creepy version. He even “becomes handsome” at the end.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Pierre is turned into Jean Claude's comic relief sidekick.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Jean Claude is inspired on Claude Frollo, a Sinister Minister. However, here he is an aristocrat instead.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, Pierre was an unfortunate poet. Here, he's working for the Big Bad. He's not that bad of a guy, though.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The lead Romani character is not Esmeralda, but Melody. Since there's no reason to believe the creators of this ever read the book, it's possible they incorrectly assumed the name Esmeralda was owned by Disney and thus replaced her with a Captain Ersatz for nonexistent legal reasons.
    • The antagonist goes from Claude Frollo to Captain Jean-Claude. It’s possible his last name is still Frollo, but it is never mentioned.
  • Adapted Out: Almost all the characters. The only characters who really avert this are Quasimodo and Pierre. Melody and Jean Claude are modified characters.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Jean Claude has no love for Quasimodo, and is the one who imprison him in the bell tower.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Melody's instruments and a decorative bell chain. Some random objects (prison bars, stone blocks from the wall, a pile of straw, and a mop and bucket) also come to life during a song sequence, though they go back to normal afterwards.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Jean Claude and his glutton father, the Baron.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The story supposedly happens in medieval France, but in the opening song the people are wearing clothes from the 18th and 19th centuries. A boy in modern looking clothing is also seen running across the screen towards the end of said song. The Can Can first appeared in 1830 and yet the opening song is a Standard Snippet of the Can Can.
    • The song "When I'm Looking at You" includes references to alarm clocks and telephones.
    • Jean Claude has an aerosol spray can... in the Middle Ages.
    • At one point, Jean Claude threatens Melody with the guillotine. Of course, the guillotine was invented during The French Revolution, centuries after the Middle Ages. But guillotines are old-timey and associated with France, so close enough, right?
  • Beautiful All Along: Quasimodo turns out to be a handsome Hunk.
  • Big Bad: Jean Claude causes the problems of the film, since he is persecuting any kind of fun.
  • Big Eater: Jean Claude's father the Baron. Any time you see him, he is always eating in some manner.
  • Broken Aesop: The movie is supposed to teach that True Beauty Is on the Inside, but Quasimodo became beautiful, so the moral is: looks don't matter as long as you're handsome. Not helping by the fact that Quasimodo doesn't even look grotesque in the first place and that Quasimodo barely gets to do anything noble or heroic — besides saving Melody from being executed by Jean Claude right at the end, mostly by ironically enough, not doing something — during the whole film.
  • Cain and Abel: Quasimodo and Jean Claude are brothers. The latter imprisoned the former in Notre Dame.
  • Composite Character:
    • Jean Claude takes the antagonistic role from Claude Frollo, while his name is a combination of Frollo and his brother Jehan's. His military style is taken from Phoebus. His appearance was taken from Gaston from Beauty and the Beast despite not being a character in the original story.
    • Pierre seems to be a combination of Pierre Gringoire from the book and Clopin.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Jean Claude is a stereotypical, mustachioed villain.
  • Demoted to Extra: Quasimodo only appears sparingly throughout the film and has less than 15 minutes of screen-time.
  • Disneyfication: Exaggerated. This adaptation eliminated all the violence, and even the religious content. In fact, it Disneyfied the story even more than Disney's own adaptation.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Melody is a prime example of this and so are a number of background gypsies, mostly the women. She's even barefoot at her wedding, at which she is wearing a full wedding dress.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Baron is the one officially in-charge, but he's largely a non-action character. Jean Claude is the true antagonist of the film.
  • Dumb Blonde: Pierre is blonde and describes himself as "not keen of mind".
  • Everybody Lives: Yes, everybody lives. Including the bad guys.
  • Expy: Jean Claude is a blatant one to Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
  • Fat Bastard: The Baron is fat and doesn't care for the citizens.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Exaggerated. Quasimodo and Melody marry after having known each other for only a few days.
  • Fun-Hating Villain: Jean Claude bans singing, dancing, and any kind of recreation so that people will work hard to pay their taxes.
  • Gay Paree: Portrayed anachronistically as such in the opening number.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The baron stays as a guest for Quasimodo and Melody's wedding.
  • Gratuitous French:
    • Jean Claude often has a habit of doing this. Such cases include calling himself “Le Grande Fromage” (Which translates to "The Big Cheese"), and when he uses a lasso, he says “Le Yee Haw!”.
    • Even more grating is when they try to do a pun, by showing an image of toes, and singing “Château”. "Château" is French for "castle" and is also used to refer to a manor house, and nothing to do with feet or toes.
  • Greed: Jean Claude's motivation.
  • The Grotesque: Quasimodo averts this trope. Even before his appearance change, Quasimodo isn't really ugly. His hunchback status happened because his stepfather forced him to work in the cathedral.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Melody to Quasimodo, although he can barely be considered a hero.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Melody and a few background Romani women.
  • Hot Witch: Melody is an actual witch and is pretty.
  • Hunk: Jean Claude, being an Expy of Gaston, is handsome and very muscular. At the climax, Quasimodo is revealed to be a hunk himself.
  • Informed Deformity: Quasimodo is supposed to be a hunchback, but he slouches at worst.
  • In Name Only: The narrative is completely different. The narrative is closer to a Beauty and the Beast story than one of the Hunchback. The Disney version had more to do with the source material than this one. The trope also extends to the few remnants of the book, especially Quasimodo, who is neither ugly nor a real hunchback, and Pierre, who in this adaptation is Jean-Claude's sidekick rather than a poet in love with Esmeralda/Melody.
  • Jerkass: Jean Claude.
  • Jesus Taboo: Despite being set around a cathedral, this adaptation largely avoids religious references.
  • Karma Houdini: Jean Claude and his father aren't the best rulers (or the audience is supposed to believe so in the case of the former) and they get off scot-free. The former escaped and the latter stayed as a guest during the ending.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Pierre, the minion of Jean Claude.
  • Neck Lift: Jean Claude has a habit of doing this to Pierre. Considering their size difference, it's not that hard.
  • NOT!: Treated like an original joke by the bats.
  • Off-Model: A lot. The characters often move their faces weirdly and have some of their parts vanish in some scenes. The bats don't move their mouths at one point.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Or rather, lisp slipping in this case. In one scene, Pierre (who speaks with a lisp) briefly talks without one during a conversation with Jean Claude.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Half of Quasimodo's face is covered by his hair. It's not, however, hiding any deformities like the character is supposed to have.
  • Plot Hole: Melody's song implies that her magical powers are just part of her imagination, but if that was true, that would mean the instruments aren't real and therefore they couldn't tell Quasimodo not to ring the bell. If all the magic is real, why doesn't she escape from the jail?
  • Produce Pelting: Jean Claude is banished by people throwing tomatoes at him.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Classical music pieces are used as background music, which don't always fit the scene; Aragonaise from Carmen is heard at one point, and the opening song uses a melody from Offenbach's Infernal Galop.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the book, Frollo (whom Jean-Claude is based on) is Quasimodo’s adopted father. Here, they are half-brothers.
  • Related in the Adaptation: A variant. In the book Quasimodo and Frollo are related by adoption, but this movie makes them half-brothers and thus biologically related.
  • Shaped Like Itself: At one point, Jean-Claude says "Doing anything against the law is illegal."
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Quasimodo. Well, everyone, really.
    • In the book, Frollo became an orphan at early age due to the Black Plague. Jean Claude's father is alive in this adaptation.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: This movie focuses a lot more on Melody's instruments and Jean Claude instead of Quasimodo and Melody. It's hard to name a scene that doesn't have the instruments talking or doing anything.
  • Talking Animal: The Bats of Notre Dame hold conversations between themselves.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Quasimodo drops one to Jean Claude, calling him an oppressor.
  • The Theme Park Version: Not only the film, but the opening song, which is just reduced to stereotypes about Paris.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Quasimodo vs. Jean Claude. Subverted at the climax because Quasimodo was Beautiful All Along.
  • Villainous Crush: Well, "crush" is pushing it with Jean Claude's attitude towards Melody. He admits that he finds her attractive, but his attitude is solely based on her appearance rather than her personality traits or anything else.