The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1976)

Article 4510 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-20-2014
Directed by Alan Cooke
Featuring Kenneth Haigh, Warren Clarke, Michelle Newel
Country: UK
What it is: Literary adaptation

An orphan hunchback, adopted and cared for by an archdeacon, becomes embroiled in the life of a gypsy girl when his master becomes obsessed with her.

The 1939 version of this story is one of my favorite movies, and the only other version of it that I’d bother to see again is the 1923 version with Lon Chaney. This one is much closer to the original story, but it’s been many years since I read the novel. If anything, this version makes me want to go back and reread it, if for no other reason than to find out if I would end up disliking most of the characters in the same way I do from this version. I don’t expect to like the character of Frollo (he is the real villain of the piece), but I don’t recall disliking Esmeralda in the other versions I’ve seen as I do here; in this one, she comes off ultimately as a stupid, ungrateful fool. I suspect the culprit of this one is the script; there’s too many times where the characters seem obvious and one-dimensional, and there were too many times where I wished the characters would shut up and express their feelings with more subtlety. I wasn’t particularly impressed by any of the performances, for that matter, but I’m not sure that the script as written gave any real opportunities. And, quite frankly, I’m never going to be quite satisfied with any version of the story where the crowds of Paris are represented by a group of about twenty extras. In short, I didn’t care for this one.


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