In recent years, Disney has made several live action remakes of its classic films. Each remake was a bit different, but the visuals were pretty stunning. The success of films like Maleficent, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland have opened the door for Disney to produce more remakes. The most notable upcoming films are The Jungle Book and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Both films will hit theaters later in the year, The Jungle Book on April 15, and Alice Through the Looking Glass on May 27.
According to People, these are the live action remakes Disney is currently developing:
- Pete’s Dragon
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Little Mermaid
- Winnie the Pooh
- Night on Bald Mountain
- The Sword in the Stone
- Prince Charming
- Mary Poppins
Okay, that is a LOT to take in, but after looking at this list, I am wondering where one of Disney’s classics is — The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the best Disney animated films. It has more mature themes than most including: Mental health, temptation, prejudice and sin. One interesting question throughout the movie is ‘Who is the real monster? Quasimodo or Judge Claude Frollo?
Disney has the potential to really take the story and push the boundaries of its remakes . I would love to see it taken even darker. I love the message of this movie too. Esmeralda sums it up in this gif:
One thing I never noticed about The Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was young is how the gargoyles only talk to Quasimodo. (There is a quick second where the goat sees the short one, but I am not counting that.) I think the gargoyles represent how isolated Quasimodo has been his whole life. They are his imaginary friends, and it shows growing up isolated is unhealthy. It would be so cool for an actor to portray this in Quasimodo. It would really show versatility. He would have to show that he really believed these gargoyles are real, and they’re his friends.
As an adult, I can say Judge Claude Frollo is one of the scariest Disney characters ever. The thing that gets me is he always thinks he is doing the right thing. He believes it is his mission and God’s will to eliminate gypsies and all other types of sin from Paris. He never thinks of himself as the villain.
I think Disney could really make some parallels to our modern culture in a Hunchback of Notre Dame remake. There is 100 percent evil in the world, and most people who are doing evil things– think they are right, and don’t see themselves as the villain. For instance:
- Human piece of garbage Donald Trump, thinks he is helping the U.S. when he is really just an old loud man promoting racism. Okay, I’ll save my Trump rant for another time, but still.
There is just some much to work with when an evil person never thinks he or she is wrong.
The CREEPIEST scene in the movie is when Frollo whispers to Esmeralda in the church. He initially intended to threaten her, but he buried his face in her hair and smelled her. Esmeralda, being the badass that she is, calls him out on it immediately, and refuses to be Frollo’s.
I want to see a live action Esmeralda because she is one of the strongest female characters Disney has ever brought to the screen. I will never forget her speech at the Festival of Fools when she stands up for Quasimodo:
Frollo: You, Gypsy girl! Get down at once!
Esmeralda: Yes, Your Honor. Just as soon as I free this poor creature.
Frollo: I forbid it!
[Esmeralda cuts the ropes tying Quasimodo to the wheel]
Frollo: How dare you defy me?
Esmeralda: You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!
[the crowd gasps in amazement]
Frollo: Mark my words, Gypsy, you will pay for this insolence.
Esmeralda: Then it appears we’ve crowned the wrong fool. The only fool I see is you!
[tosses King of Fool’s crown at Frollo’s feet]
Filming location: The city of Paris
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Imagine the cinematography! A live action remake would be an excellent opportunity for any filmmaker to show how they can use the environment he or she films in.
The Notre Dame de Paris is a masterpiece of architecture. Think of it– stunning shots of the framework containing bells, the stained glass windows and the towering spire. A shot starts from behind the cathedral, and then pans up to show the gorgeous view of Paris. Could you ask for a better place to film?
I would like to take a moment to appreciate the amazing cinematography and artwork that went into the original film. Imagine seeing it recreated:
The gargoyles in the film have one purpose: Comic relief. There is nothing wrong with some comic relief, I fucking love a good joke. If the movie were to go with a dark theme, then it maybe hard to insert some humor. It is not impossible though, with the right writers and performers the gargoyles can still bring some light into the story.
I think the gargoyles could become much more abstract characters in a live action remake though– kind of like Mother Willow in Pocahontas. They are there to give comfort and advice, and not be wacky. The funny stuff can be left to another character– who I will explain soon… *winks*
I think the soundtrack to The Hunchback of Notre Dame is underrated. It doesn’t have a well-known classic like Under the Sea or A Whole New World, but it still has its moments. The best song on the soundtrack is Heaven’s Light/Hellfire. The choir, lyrics and Richard Harris’ voice all come together perfectly. This is without a doubt the darkest song in Disney’s history — Frollo is basically saying “Esmeralda will be mine or she will burn.” The whole scene in the movie is really just a wonder to behold. It would be stunning to see live action. The dark imagery of swirling red capes and Esmeralda coming out of the fire are haunting. Out of every scene in Disney’s history, this is one I want to see recreated the most.
Every live action remake has been without musical numbers. I am fine with The Hunchback of Notre Dame not being a musical. Filmmakers can still recreate the psychological thrill in the hellfire scene without music. It could be much more about the slippery slope to insanity in the human mind.
There is a wide range of actors I think would be able to play these parts beautifully. Here is my fancast:
- Quasimodo: Daniel Radcliffe
- Judge Claude Frollo: Sir Ian Mckellen
- Esmeralda: Freida Pinto
- Phoebus: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- Clopin Trouillefou: Sacha Baron Cohen
Daniel Radcliffe is a special talent, and he is really good at playing unusual characters. Since his Harry Potter days, he has been everything from a human growing horns to Igor in the new Frankenstein movie. I think it is time he throws on a hump and starts ringing some bells.
Sir Ian McKellen is one of the best actors ever. Period. I mean, this guy is Magneto and Gandalf, but he is so much more. He is a master of Shakespeare and really brings an indescribable aura and class to every project he’s involved in.
Freida Pinto is one of the most beautiful actresses today. The woman who plays Esmeralda needs to have a certain energy and grace to her, and I think Pinto is a perfect match. Just imagine her wearing a purple skirt inspired by the original character and it twirling endlessly like magic. I’m already hypnotized. Freida Pinto is not only beautiful, she is a strong actress. Pinto gave standout performances in films like Slumdog Millionaire and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
When it came to casting Phoebus, I could only picture one actor in the role — Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. I mean, he looks EXACTLY like Phoebus. He also has experience being in a period piece. He plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones. His experience in the fantasy genre will be useful for scenes when Phoebus demonstrates what a true soldier he is.
Clopin Trouillefou is the gypsy jester who can bring the perfect amount of comic relief to the film. Trouillefou is complex because in one scene he’s entertaining children with puppets, and then he is singing a song about executions. I love him, and I believe his humor is dark enough to work with the overall tone of a live action remake, but not come off as too forced. Sacha Baron Cohen is great with characters. We know and love him as Borat, but he can also play serious when he needs to. Cohen had a supporting role in 2012’s Les Misérables, and his performance is everything I am looking for in a live action Clopin Trouillefou: A bit sinister, but not afraid to make people laugh.
Overall, I think The Hunchback of Notre Dame is such an interesting story. The moral of it is simply beautiful, and unfortunately, it is something we need to be reminded of all too often: Don’t judge people because they are a little different from you. Let’s hope Disney adds plans for a live action remake of this film to all the other remakes in development!