Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movie Review: The Hunchback

The Hunchback (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Starring: Mandy Patinkin, Richard Harris, Salma Hayek, Edward Atterton, Benedick Blythe, Nigel Terry, Jim Dale, Trevor Baxter, Vernon Dobtcheff, Nickolas Grace, Matthew Sim, Cassie Stuart, Gabriella Fon, Michael Mehlmann, Olga Antal, Zoltán Bán, Scott Bellefeville 
Director: Peter Medak 
Adelson-Baumgarten Productions, Alliance Communications Corporation, Stillking Films, Transatlantic Media Associates, TriStar Television, USA, Hungary, Canada, Czech Republic, 1997. 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame title
This made for TV movie is based on the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo.

In 1480 Paris times are dark and possession of a printed page is punishable by death.  Archdeacon Dom Frollo (Richard Harris) destroys printing presses. He finds an abandoned baby and adopts him. 25 years later there are dangerous ideas about round Earth. Gringoire (Edward Atterton) is a young idealist who tries to enlighten the people and demands freedom of information. The beauty of Dancing Gypsy girl Esmeralda (Esmeralda) charms everyone, even Dom Frollo.
Mandy Patinkin
Richard Harris
Dom Frollo
Salma Hayek
At festival a king of fools is chosen, ugliest face wins. A young disfigured man Quasimodo (Mandy Patinkin) lives in the Notre Dame Cathedral and is the bell-ringer of the cathedral. Clopin (Jim Dale) chooses Quasimodo as the king. Quasimodo has fun and falls in love with Esmeralda. Dom Frollo says that the people are only mocking him and forbids Quasimodo ever leaving the cathedral again. 
Edward Atterton
Jim Dale
Mandy Patinkin
Quasimodo as the king of fools
Dom Frollo hires some goons to kidnap Esmeralda. Gringoire and Quasimodo stop the attempt. Quasimodo is arrested and Gringoire is knocked down by officer Phoebus (Benedick Blythe). Gringoire wakes in "Court of Miracles", a society of thieves. Esmeralda saves his life by saying that she will marry him. Quasimodo is whipped publicly and only Esmeralda show him compassion by giving him water.

Minister Gauchére (Nickolas Grace) has modern views and he thinks that printed books should be allowed. Dom Frollo opposes as only church should have books. As Frollo can not get Esmeralda, he frames her for murder of Gauchére. Quasimodo must protect her from the soldiers and Dom Frollo.
Nickolas Grace
Richard Harris
Thou shalt not pass
There are many versions of this story, this version was generally entertaining and well made.The movie follows the classic story with some minor changes, for example Phoebus has a very small role in this version. Also this version has a sub plot about Dom Frollo's crusade against printed books. Richard Harris is eerie as an obsessed self-whipping priest who is a manipulating father-figure to Quasimodo. Salma Hayek is well cast as beautiful and friendly Esmeralda. Mandy Patinkin brings credibility to the suffering and sympathetic character of Quasimodo. Also Nigel Terry and Jim Daly pull good roles, the other as King Louis XI and the other as the king of the commoners. The sets look nice. Apparently a huge set resembling the half-finished Notre Dame Cathedral was built in Budapest. 
Ringing the bells
Salma Hayek and Mandy Patinkin
Moment of compassion
Half-finished Notre Dame
Comment on the DVD: the Scandinavian release published by Atlantic Film AB contains Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish subtitles. All of them contain severe timing errors which results to almost half of the sentences missing. If you must rely on subtitles it is very hard to follow the story.

Rating: Good

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