Confession time: The Hunchback of Notre Dame is my favourite Disney film ever. Scratch that, it’s actually one of my 20 favourite films full stop. I love it. I think it’s a sinfully underrated film, one of the true artistic achievements of the Disney Renaissance. Sure, it’s unnecessarily goofy in some places — oh god those bloody gargoyles — but everything surrounding it is a remarkably sophisticated story of morality, the corrupting forces of power, racial discrimination, and not judging people by their appearances. It’s the Disney film with a villain whose primary motivation is trying to decide whether to rape a woman or murder her (and also has the best Disney villain song ever). The animation is stellar, the voice-work wonderful, Alan Menken’s score here is his true masterpiece, and it’s the sort of story I wish Disney would do more of.
I’m honestly a little surprised it’s getting a live-action remake.
Sure, Disney seem to be remaking everything these days but The Hunchback of Notre Dame is seldom discussed in terms of the A-List elite films in their catalogue. It has its fans but how the hell do you do this film in 2019? Well, apparently you do it with celebrated playwright David Henry Hwang, best known for his Tony award winning play M. Butterfly (it’s great and the David Cronenberg movie adaptation is way better than reviews would have you believe).
Deadline reports that he will write Hunchback, with music by Menken and Stephen Schwartz. However, according to the article, this new film will not take inspiration from the stage adaptation of the Disney movie, which is very popular in Europe. That production is notably much darker than the Disney film, so it opens up the question as to whether this new film will stick to the more optimistic ending of the cartoon or go full Hugo and have EVERYONE die. What can I say? Hugo liked a bummer ending.
The downside to this report is the rumour that Josh Gad is the top choice for Quasimodo. Sure? I guess? Is he going to play it goofy?
My advice for any adaptation: Cut the gargoyles, commit to a dark ending, and make sure Hellfire is the most apocalyptic musical number ever shot for film. Seriously, that is an amazing song.
Header Image Source: Disney