While Victor Hugo might not entirely recognise his novel, this Disney animated blockbuster more or less remakes the formidable 1939 Charles Laughton version, marking another milestone for the studio with its dazzling technique and surprisingly mature content.
As voiced by Hulce, Quasimodo is, despite the misshapen form that restricts him to the company of three bantering gargoyles in the cathedral bell tower, a fairly cuddly chap. But 'Beauty and the Beast' directors Trousdale and Wise marshal their energies to different ends, lining up this King of Fools alongside the Parisian gypsies and beggars, united in the harsh treatment they receive from the chilling Judge Frollo - an index of society's attitude to the outsider which even the youngest minds should grasp.
Elsewhere, while Kevin Kline injects a dash of irony into the conventionally heroic Phoebus, the modelling of free spirited Esmeralda on voice artist Demi Moore (vital statistics and all) confirms the underlying sexual tension - in a Disney cartoon! - of Frollo's confrontation with his own inner demons. Though Alan Menken's music misses the big tune that would cap Stephen Schwartz's nimble lyrics, it's the thematic sophistication that brings the movie to life, making older children and adults its best audience. Sure, the pacy slapstick is up to par, but the 'mobile' camera and extraordinary vistas really come into their own in the dramatic set-pieces, breakneck chases and the climactic assault on Notre Dame itself.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise|
|Screenwriter:||Jonathan Roberts, Tab Murphy, Irene Mecchi, Noni White, Bob Tzudiker|