Movie #89 2020: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

No. I haven’t seen this before. What you gonna do about it?

I’ve waffled on about being very limited in how many animated movies I’ve seen, so I won’t go on about that for too long. But The Hunchback of Notre Dame is another one that slipped through the cracks for me.

My first thoughts after watching this Disney classic were ”it was good, but it wasn’t Pocahontas good”. And I stand by that assessment.

Although the story is a little obvious and there are less plot twists than your modern Disney outing, it was still heartwarming in a way that Disney will always do best. Hunchback‘s message is simple: be tolerant. It’s almost as if this movie was the start of Disney putting out quite obvious but important messages to children, and seems to have led the way for films like Inside Out‘s more nuanced message in 2015.

The animation giants do a brilliant job here of balancing out a serious topic with some lightness. The addition of the gargoyle characters provide an important humorous element, and thank God for them – this movie would have been way, way too dark without them. Mary Wickes does an especially outstanding job as the old lady gargoyle, so kudos to her for that.

What really interested (and delighted) me the most was that the villain in Hunchback was truly evil. Not in a funny way either, like in so many children’s movies. There was no redemption arc, and no attempt from the character redeem himself. What this teaches children is that sometimes people just be that way, you know? That sounds so pessimistic when its written down, but I believe that it’s an important lesson for people to learn, for better or for worse.

In short, this movie isn’t one that I’d rush to upon subscribing to Disney+, but it is a decent, old-style 2D animation regardless, and one that sits comfortably within the Disney franchise.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is available to stream on Disney+ and Sky Go/Cinema in the UK.

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