Behind the Fairy Tale: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Okay, kiddos, today’s Disney movie is going to be . . . wait, what? Um, I mean, oh how cool! It’s about a guy with horrible deformities who is locked up in a bell tower by a lustful, racist, and let’s not forget evil, judge named Frollo. And there’s a hot gypsy girl who pole dances, and a goat, and this dude name Phoebes with an awful goatee.
I’m starting to think this is a totally different kind of movie.
Okay, here we go. First things first, I loved this movie. Really, I did. My only problem was that, well, strangely enough this book did not seem like the sort of book you’d translate to a children’s movie. I hear “Victor Hugo” and I don’t think “happy happy joy joy” in other words. But Disney meant well. I mean there was a message. That people are horrible, horrible creatures and really there should be another flood.
No, no! Sorry. I mean that people should be accepted for what’s on the inside, not the outside. As in emotions, not the condition of their livers, although that’s important too. But I’m getting away from the story, or, at least, the Disney version of it. Here we go.
It starts with Frollo chasing this gypsy woman who races for the church hoping for protection. She makes it, but wouldn’t you know, bonks her head on the steps and dies. Frollo takes the bundle from her hands and realizes the baby she was holding looks just like Dick Cheney. In horror, he tries to throw the baby down the well.
But the priest steps out (about time) and reminds Frollo that murdering women and infants at a church is like a level 10 sin, so Frollo asks what he should do to keep from taking a hot bath in the afterlife. The priest says for him to raise the baby himself and . . . wait, wasn’t this guy just about to kill this baby? And we think CPS is goofed up today. Anyway, Frollo agrees, and locks the kid up in the bell tower like so many other awesome Disney parents.
So Quasimodo (a name that rolls off the tongue) grows up alone in the tower. Okay, I was kidding about Dick Cheney, but he is really deformed, and there’s only so much Disney can do to cuten up a hunchback with a face that looks like it is sliding off his head. But to their credit, they give old Quasi a great personality and an awesome singing voice. Women dig that stuff. He is totally going to get the girl.
If he can get out of the bell tower, cause right now all he has for company are these singing stone gargoyles (he’s been alone a long time, okay?) and the less said about them the better. But he lucks out when the city has Topsy Turvy day in which the lowly people get to dress up in costume and pretend to be the ones in charge. For one day, they actually have a decent government. The costume day is perfect for Quasi, who has the best permanent costume ever.
He puts on a cloak, sneaks out, and ends up backing into the hot gypsy girl’s tent. Lucky hunchback! Esmerelda is all, no biggie, and Quasi watches as she dances for the crowd and Frollo who says “Look at that display”. His goatee’d captain of the guard, Phoebus says, “YES SIR.” I liked that line. Essy dances and yes, at one point swings around a pole stripper style. Holy CRAP, Disney.
Then comes the ugly man contest. Esmerela thinks Quasi’s mask is great until she tries to pull it off in front of a huge crowd of people who suddenly turn into a pack of wild orangutangs, only hurling tomatoes instead of poo. There might have been some of that too, I don’t know, but it’s really a seriously dark scene, with Quasi ripping his shirt to escape his bonds while the crowd tries to torture him. Holy CRAP, Disney.
Esmerelda steps up and demands they stop, and Frollo demands they arrest her, alive you know, cause he has the hots for her too, and Disney’s not quite that dark. She runs and the captain chases after her, but she makes it inside the church. Phoebus tries to pick her up while arresting her, and they argue and fight and yeah, I can’t imagine where this is going. But she has sanctuary here, despite Frollo showing up and demanding the girl (he should totally try that Protestant thing like Henry VIII did). He puts guards everywhere, and the freewheeling gypsy is trapped!
But not alone. She befriends Quasi, who helps her to escape. Frollo ain’t happy. He has a scene in front of the fire where he creepily sniffs Esmerelda’s scarf (oh I forgot, he sniffed her hair earlier – iiiick) and imagines her body gyrating in the flames, tempting him to sin while a huge chorus of red cloaks threatens hellfire. No, really. Holy CRAP, Disney.
Frollo then starts burning everyone’s houses cause he’s all madfaced at not finding Essy, and wow, clearly we’re not near election time. Phoebus refuses to burn a house, then rescues the cute little family from the flames. Essy, who is still in hiding, sees this and is all he’s like hot and brave and who was that hunchback again? Frollo fires Pheebes, and he is chased off and shot in the shoulder. Essy rescues him and drags him back to the church.
Poor, pathetic Quasi lets them in, and watches while Esmerelda crushes his dreams of ever having love by makin’ out with Phoebus on his sick bed before running off to Gypsyville – otherwise known as the Court of Sewer Rats, er Miracles. Frollo tells Quasi he knows where the gypsy hideout is, so Quasi and the injured Phoebus (I like how Quasi helps him with his injury as roughly as possible) use this necklace of Esmerelda’s to find the hideout – also leading Frollo there as well. Whoops.
The gypsies are arrested, and when Essy refuses Frollo with a well-placed spit, she’s put on her own spit surrounded by fire. Quasi bursts through his chains to rescue her, swinging from the belltower, picking her up and someone managing to swing back UP to the cathedral, completely defying gravity. He is one amazing hunchback. Maybe they should get him on a superhero team or something.
Frollo breaks in, fights Quasi, and has one of those patented evil villain fall deaths. Quasi accepts that Essy and Phoebus are an item, and when they lead him to the door of the cathedral,the crowd lifts him in their arms and cheer for him and wasn’t this the same crowd who wanted to kill him earlier and nevermind. Quasi might not have the girl, but he has his freedom, so happy happy, the end. And maybe they’ll get all those fires put out eventually.
Now for the story behind the, well, creepy Disney tale. It’s even creepier and darker, of course, with pretty much everyone ending up dead at the end. Phoebus is a worse creeper than Frollo, Esmerelda is hanged, and Quasi climbs in the grave with her. Later they find their bones together. Isn’t that charming? So yeah, at this point, I’m gonna go with the Disney version, even if it does make old Victor Hugo roll in his own grave.
So did any of you see the Disney movie or read the original book? If so, what did you think? Come back for our next Behind the Fairy Tale: Mulan. Nothing creepy here, just a little harmless cross dressing. And genocide. Stay tuned!
More Books They Made You Read in School
After I finished the last blog, I realized that I had left some “What were they smoking when they wrote that” award winners out. That simply wasn’t right. So here is part 2.
The Lord of The Flies
by William Golding
|A good advertisement
for birth control
A bunch of British brats are stranded on an island and within weeks start trying to kill each other. So basically a longer version of what happens on the playground every day in America. A kid who supposedly represented Christ got killed with a rock – I think. And there was another kid called “Piggy” – guess why. And people wonder why there are school shootings.
Final Analysis: Little boys are evil. Don’t ever leave them alone. Especially with rocks.
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
The title basically says it all – it’s an old man and the sea. For about 100 pages. Except they should have added “the pointless story of” to the front, since he catches the big fish only to have it – here’s the fun part – get completely eaten before he makes it back home. Lots of references to Joe DiMaggio. Unlike many other fictional stories, we also get to hear about every time he goes potty in the sea.
Final Analysis: It’s short, so at least it doesn’t take you too long to read it – though it seems longer.
by Arthur Miller
A group of young Puritan girls decide it’d be fun to torture their elders by pretending to be afflicted by witchcraft. Many people get hanged as a result of their wacky hijinks. Shows that junior high girls haven’t changed that much. Neither has organized religion, come to think of it.
Final Analysis: Girl children are evil too. Best to lock them up until the teen years are safely behind them.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
by Victor Hugo
|Clearly a kid-friendly movie!|
Now with hunchback in the title, how can this fail to be a fun romp of a book? Sadly, it does. The hideously deformed hunchback – named Quasimodo as an added insult – has a horrible life, but falls in love, gets rejected, sees his love hanged, and ends up buried in the grave with her. Happy, happy story! Which is why Disney of course made a movie out of it.
Final Analysis: No, seriously, Disney made it a cartoon movie. Quasi doesn’t die, but love interest Esmerelda, the pole dancing gyspy, dumps him for a handsome hottie. Also, there’s an evil lustful priest and – hey, what more could you want in a family show?
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Okay, I’ll admit that I never had to read this one (thank God) but I’m going to take a stab at it. It’s about war. And peace. And it’s REALLY long – I mean really, really long. I’m thinking even my English teachers didn’t want to read this thing, which is how I got out of it.
Final Analysis: Even if you don’t read it, this book would be an excellent murder weapon, since it’s nearly as heavy as your average Brides magazine.
Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
|This is NOT going to end well|
Final Analysis: It should be called “Of Rabbits and Humans.” Get a clue – if you can’t trust your brother around rabbits, better watch him around humans.
Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
Speaking of inspiring books about the disabled, Algernon gets some sort of smart operation and quits being retarded for a while. And realizes that life really kind of sucks when you are smart enough to know what’s going on. But it’s okay, because by the end he starts going back to being retarded.
Final Analysis: If only I had one of those Harry Potter wands so that I could unread this book. I would be sooo much happier.