Somehow it came out this past weekend that I had never seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It's especially shocking because I love darker Disney movies, and y'all...this one's about as dark as it gets. In case you'd like to be reminded, let's break down the most disturbing things that actually happen in the film.
1.First of all, the movie starts with Frollo straight up MURDERING a woman because she runs from him, trying to protect her baby.
2.Then he sees the baby is deformed and goes to DROP HIM DOWN A WELL.
3.The only reason he decides to keep the child is because he "fears for his immortal soul." AKA, he's scared of going to hell because of what he's done. HELL.
4.He convinces Frollo to raise the baby as his own, which Frollo of course interprets as "Manipulate and torture this human being for his entire life." He decides to name the child Quasimodo, aka "half formed," and keep him in a BELL TOWER. ALL ALONE.
5.While "raising" Quasimodo, Frollo tells him he's a monster, the "gypsies" are evil, and his mother abandoned him because he was so ugly. Because of this, Quasimodo truly believes he should be grateful to Frollo. The emotional manipulation!!
6.Pretty bleak so far, right? When the talking gargoyles show up, I'm like, FINALLY! Some good old-fashioned Disney sidekicks for comic relief! But it quickly becomes clear that...they're just in Quasimodo's imagination??
7.Like many Disney princesses, Quasimodo just wants to go outside and see the world. But unlike most Disney princesses, when he does, he is quickly and horribly humiliated.
8.Despite all of this, Quasimodo is a wonderful person, and I was rooting for him to find love with Esmeralda (this is a Disney film, after all)! Instead she falls for Phoebus.
9.Knowing she loves Phoebus, we as viewers still watch Quasimodo imagine A WHOLE SONG about how Esmeralda might love him.
10.And now to possibly the most disturbing part: FROLLO'S SEXUAL ATTRACTION TO ESMERALDA.
11.Quick note about this scene: Are those...are those the Infinity Stones?
12.Frollo literally SETS ALL OF PARIS ON FIRE (including a house full of people) because he's so mad that he's attracted to this girl.
13.He decides to burn her at the stake and STILL tries to get her to be with him! SO GROSS!
14.Quick break from Frollo: Quasimodo literally pours burning rock on the guards below the Notre Dame. Remember how I predicted this would turn into Carrie??
15.Frollo's death/descent to hell is SCARRING. If I had seen this as a kid...I probably never would've watched this movie again.
16.The movie had a happy(ish) ending. Quasimodo ventures outside and is accepted by the crowd, in stark contrast with the last time he went outside. But he didn't find love, and he's still living in a society that could turn on him!!
Overall, I loved this movie. I didn't know how much I needed to blend Victor Hugo with Disney. But...I am heartbroken and scarred, and I can't believe this is a movie for kids.
Those of you who saw the film when you were little, what did you think? Was it absolutely scarring? Let me know in the comments!
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