- Audience-Coloring Adaptation: This version redefined the story to have a 'justice for the oppressed' message, made the Romani more sympathetic, gave Esmeralda a more proactive personality and removed the plot point about her being a stolen French baby. Disney's famous 1995 animated version takes a lot more from this than the original novel.
- Creepy Awesome: Quasimodo. He's deformed, socially inept, and possibly afflicted with a mental disorder, but he fiercely defends Esmeralda and thwarts a mob of rioters who were attacking Notre Dame.
- Heartwarming Moments: Esmeralda praying to the Virgin Mary - surrounded by selfish people praying for riches, beauty or material things - she asks "take everything I have, please help my people".
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?:
- The Romani are portrayed simply as innocent people who want shelter and safety from the world, being unjustly persecuted by prejudiced people. This was made right as Nazism was persecuting Jews and the Romani in Europe, and World War II broke out while the movie was being shot.
- Esmeralda is no longer a stolen white baby raised by Romani, but ethnically Romani now herself - and is given the role of a would-be ambassador for her people. She's also played by Maureen O'Hara, who was Irish. The Irish themselves were oppressed and demonized like the Romani, and Ireland was in the process of becoming independent from Britain when the film was made. Her casting was likely just buzz around a possible new star, but it adds another powerful undercurrent to Esmeralda's new role.
YMMV / The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)