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The Hunchback of Notre Dame

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins stars in the adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic tale of unrequited love, hope and injustice. Set in the year 1450 against the background of the famed Paris cathedral, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME also stars Derek Jacobi, Leslie-Anne Down, Sir John Gielgud and Robert Powell.

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It’s one of European literature’s most vivid and romantic tales, so it’s no wonder that Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (actually entitled Notre Dame de Paris by the French novelist) has been adapted for screens both big and small for literally the past 100 years. And while the wicked, tormented priest Dom Claude Frollo is perhaps the most important character, it’s the relationship between Quasimodo, the pathetic but pure-hearted bell ringer, and Esmeralda, the gypsy girl who bewitches him and turns most every other man who comes near her into a fool, that lies at the heart of the tale--hence such notable pairings as Lon Chaney and Patsy Ruth Miller (in the 1923 silent classic), Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara, Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida… even Mandy Patinkin with Salma Hayek. This 1982 made-for-TV version sports Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo, and not surprisingly, he acquits himself well; even subsumed in a red fright wig and the slabs of makeup that turn him into a hideous monster, Hopkins conveys the mixture of innocence, confusion, and defiance that makes the character so poignant. Lesley-Anne Down, though undeniably beautiful, is much less convincing as Esmeralda, but Derek Jacobi hams it up effectively as Frollo, whose lust for the gypsy dancer turns him into a sanctimonious lunatic. Director Michael Tuchner’s film creates a pretty persuasive ambience for his medieval Paris, with its mud and squalor contrasting with the majesty of the great cathedral, and the most famous scenes (like Quasimodo being paraded around as the King of the Fools, or Esmeralda giving him some water after he’s been publicly flogged) pack a punch. All in all, while this sometimes over-ripe and corny version can’t measure up to those with Chaney and Laughton, it’s still plenty entertaining. There are no bonus features. --Sam Graham

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Derek Jacobi, Lesley-Anne Down, John Gielgud, David Suchet
  • Directors: Michael Tuchner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GH3CLA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,397 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2009
Format: DVD
Directed by Michael Tuchner and first aired for television in 1982, this version of Victor Hugo's classic novel features a storyline that stays rather close to Hugo's story and features Anthony Hopkins as one of the better Quasimodo's seen on film.

The overall story of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is fairly common knowledge. Quasimodo is the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame. Quasimodo's master, Dom Claude Frollo (Derek Jacobi), falls in love with a Gypsy dancer named Esmeralda (Lesley-Anne Downs), but when Esmeralda spurns Frollo, he orders Quasimodo to capture her. Later, after an act of tender kindness, Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda, but she's enraptured with Captain Phoebus (Robert Powell). Phoebus is intrigued by the women, but just as another trophy to mount. When Esmeralda is sentenced to death for crimes she didn't commit, Quasimodo comes to her rescue and shows himself to be a true hero.

There have been many versions of Hunchback made, but most choose to ignore or skim the more interesting characterizations of the novel. Other than the ending, which has been altered from the original story but remains bittersweet in tone, this version of the novel gets many of the characterizations right. For instance, Dom Claude Frollo is not really a wicked man but a saintly man who becomes consumed by his lust for that which he knows he cannot have. Many versions of the story turn him into an evil villain. This version doesn't and shows Dom Claude Frollo as the good man he is and the internal struggle he faces. Also, in many versions of the story Phoebus is shown as being an almost saintly soldier who is well-matched for Esmeralda. This version shows him for being the selfish, man-whoring, pig that he is described as being in the novel.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie was required viewing in my 9th grade English/French classes back in 1982. It was a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie at that time. I loved the movie and I have waited for it to become available on video/DVD for years. Anthony Hopkins is great in the role of Quasimodo and I liked the romance between Esmeralda and Philip. I loved the ending except of course for poor Quasimodo.
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Format: DVD
In some 15 years of buying VHSs and DVDs, I have never taken the time to write even one movie review (I leave that to The Hound and to the Leonard Maltins of this world), but I just could not pass this one.

In one word, this version of "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" is 'sublime'. Forget Lon Chaney or Charles Laughton or Anthony Quinn - see this version first, then you can add the others as second best or 'alternates'. But this one, you will cherish.

Think for a minute; Anthony Hopkins in the title role, Derek Jacobi as the villain, and a young and gorgeous Lesley-Anne Down doing her sexiest best as Esmeralda ! Add a superb story line plus color and you have a "must".

Tell you what. Out of some 2000 titles on DVD that I own, which - say 5 - would I take on the proverbial "desert isle" if I HAD to ? Well, this version is one of the 5 !!! (The other 4 ? - "Cyrano de Bergerac" with Gérard Depardieu --- "Amadeus" - the Saul Zaentz Company production --- "The 10 Commandments" by De Mille just for the all out quality of script, splendor, story, acting, and no-expense spared for a once-in-many-lifetimes production, and "A Tale of Two Cities" with Chris Sarandon and Peter Cushing a.o. ----- All 5, including the present version of "Hunchback" can be tagged as "sublime' in my book)

I never thought they'd ever issue this one on DVD because I previously had the VHS and the cheapos who issued it some 15 years back had the gall to encode the film in EP mode ! (You know, those small non-ethical and often bootleg-artists who relish flogging "as is" reissues as cheaply as they possibly can) It was attrocious quality-wise.

But lo and behold, this release by Columbia/Tristar (Canada) or Sony (U.S.
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Definitely a SWASHBUCKLING adaptation of Hugo's novel, with lots of action centered around pursuit of the damsel in distress, but without depth of character. Lesley-Anne Down's portrayal of Esmeralda is particularly one-dimensional--lacking the anatomical curves and inner fire one would expect of a woman capable of arousing the passions of the key male characters. The director makes ample use of Down's pretty face, but in the final analysis, one is inclined to feel, "What's all the fuss about?" The scenes of Quasimodo (Anthony Hopkins) scampering like a monkey among the ropes and beams in the bell-tower of Notre Dame Cathedral are the most exciting part of the film.
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Format: VHS Tape
I have to say ever since I read Victor Hugo's masterpiece, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I've been waiting for a great adaptation. Although this film doesn't follow the original path of the book, it's still very entertaining. You'd think that with all the adaptations they've had they could have at least gotten one right. Maybe someday it will happen.

Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed watching this movie. It's strange but I always thought of it as a sad and wonderful movie. Probably the best thing about this film is the protrayal of Quasimodo. Anthony Hopkins has an amazing performance that, in my opinion, will never be toped. Besides Hopkins though, the acting is very sub-par in the film. The film all in all is well made and very enjoyable.

The BIG question your probably asking yourself right now is, What's going on with that expensive price?

Well the thing is, this film was never popular. Even when it first came out. So naturally it's gone out of print. This in turn causes the price of used copies to go up a lot. It's also very hard to find. I've never seen it in a store.

Another question your probably asking yourself is, why isn't it on dvd?

Basically for the same reason as above, it was never popular. I seriously doubt that it will ever be released on dvd.

If your really wanting an entertaining adaptation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, look no further than that expensive copy on the New & Used page.
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