The Disney 52 Animated Challenge: Year-Long Activity - NOW PLAYING: Princess and the Frog

Discussion in 'DPF Game Room' started by MerlinEmrys, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. pretty Omi

    pretty Omi Resident Smol Wolf

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    Watch the background characters in public scenes. This is one of the first movies where they used the tech to create the wildebeest stampede, to generate the people for the crowd scenes. If you stop and pay attention to them, you'll realize how dull and repetitive they are. I dunno why, but it always kinda cracks me up, and I have to tell myself to focus on everything else haha.
     
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  2. MerlinEmrys

    MerlinEmrys Hicitus Pinicus!

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    Oh my gosh I noticed that. XD especially when they are celebrating Quasi at the end! XD

    Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
     
  3. pretty Omi

    pretty Omi Resident Smol Wolf

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    Yes! It's especially noticeable in the ending haha
     
  4. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    Ok, let's see if my Chromebook will let me finish posting my analysis (come on, little buddy! You can do it!!!) Also, can we just keep talking about Hunchback for like a couple days?? I'm loving this discussion! It seems like people are really starting to dig deep. And I mean we're all just going to procrastinate on our Hercules analyses until the weekend anyway. xD WE JUST ARE, YOU GUYS. BE HONEST.

    7.) Overall Goal:

    Ok, here’s where things are going to get REALLY stuffy and tediously academic…

    One of the most common criticisms leveled against this film involves its rather dramatic departure from the source material. Some have accused Disney of bastardizing an important work of literature, watering down its supposedly "deep" message with happy Disney cliches, all in the name of selling toys and theme park tickets. Obviously, I disagree. The end.

    Just kidding lol I'm obvs gonna go on a super long rant hahahahahaha who did you think you were dealing with?? Girl please.

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    My argument can basically be divided into two categories: A) a defense of the film itself, including the drastically different themes/messages; and B), a defense of adaptations (and their inherently flexible nature) in general. I’ll start with that second one.

    It’s a common misconception that all cinematic adaptations are shameless attempts to cash in on popular trends, and/or spare Hollywood from having to come up with an original thought; yeah, it’s easy to harbor that level of cynicism when we're still being bombarded with adaptations of every dystopian YA series even 3 years after the final Hunger Games movie left theaters, not to mention the increasing reliance on remakes and sequels. But oftentimes an adaptation does stem from a place of genuine creativity, and an interest in telling a successful story, not selling a successful product. I mean, don't get me wrong - I have no doubt whatsoever that the Disney suits initially greenlit Hunchback for typical “Hollywood studio” reasons. Namely, because Katzenberg was still chasing that ever evasive Oscar Gold, and a sweeping Les Mis-style musical adaptation of a serious novel probably seemed like prime Oscar Bait (TM) at the time. However, I also don't doubt that the filmmakers who were hired had an actual artistic vision and passion for this project, and truly tried their darndest to protect this vision from the shameless money grubbers and glory seekers.

    There's also the fact that Victor Hugo was actually a bit of a capitalist himself, which always makes the complaints from Hugo purists feel a bit hollow to me. After pushing back his deadline repeatedly, before he was even finished writing the novel, he actually tried to sell Hunchback’s stage rights to another publisher. (His existing publisher found out, was rightfully pissed, and a reprimanded Hugo finally submitted his completed manuscript… 6 months later.) There's also the small matter of Hugo *rewriting Hunchback himself* years later, adapting it into an opera titled La Esmeralda and making several noteworthy changes. Yes, Hugo was actually the first person to turn the Esmeralda/Phoebus relationship into an actual romance, reshaping his own character and molding him into a chivalrous hero rather than a two-timing, hedonistic jerk. Hugo also makes drastic changes in who he decides to kill off; Phoebus, who managed to be one the few characters to survive the original novel, dies tragically in Esmeralda's arms in the opera. Oh, and Esmeralda? SHE LIVES. Yeah. So take that, people who never shut up about how Disney committed blasphemy against Hugo by not killing her off. He seemed to be cool with taking that route. (He also spared the lives of both Frollo and Quasimodo in this version.)

    It seems Hugo understood something that many fans and critics don't seem to grasp: stories change over time, and that's ok. They have to, in order to stay relevant in a constantly changing culture. If you're passionate about art, of course you're going to feel protective whenever you hear that something you love is getting a retelling. I'm that way myself. And as a writer, my natural instinct is to be protective over my own work as well. We all want to maintain ownership of the things we create, even after we ourselves are gone. But if you're fortunate enough to create something that actually outlives you, that transcends time itself, then that means it transcends you as well. It seems like a pretty fair trade-off to sacrifice a certain level of proprietorship in exchange for your work being appreciated by future generations. And if it's going to continue resonating with future generations, you must allow for reinterpretation. Hunchback was originally published nearly two centuries ago, and the fact that it still gets new adaptations to this day (including an upcoming Netflix movie featuring Idris Elba as Quasimodo... yes, you read that right), is because it allows for so many new interpretations, which keeps the story fresh.

    Between the publication of the novel in 1831 and the release of the Disney film in 1996 were countless other adaptations. To compare the animated movie to the book alone and judge it by this metric is a pretty shallow method of analysis, one which ignores 165 years of the story being re-contextualized for new audiences, each subsequent version building upon the other adaptations that came before it - not just Hugo's novel. As I mentioned earlier, Disney’s version borrows much more from the 1939 RKO film than from the novel itself.

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    It's a great film and I definitely recommend checking it out. Its influence on Disney's own version can be seen throughout. The 1939 adaptation was the first to elevate Esmeralda from a naive young girl blinded by love at first sight to a mature young woman motivated by the plight of her people. She begins the film by illegally sneaking into Paris in a daring attempt to see the King and plead for her people's freedom (in this version, the Romani are expressly forbidden from entering the city without a permit.) The 1939 version was also the first to introduce the theme of justice for the oppressed, which was entirely absent from Hugo's novel (more on that later.) The Esmeralda/Frollo melodrama that had taken center stage in almost all previous adaptations is still there of course, but the Romani are given much more focus, their suffering is amplified, and an empathetic, humanist lens is applied.

    In fact, this film can be read as a direct response to Nazi oppression; it was directed by a Jewish filmmaker who fled to Hollywood from Nazi Germany, with a script written by another German-Jewish refugee and a Russian-Jewish immigrant/outspoken feminist advocate who managed to overcome Hollywood's intense sexism and become one of the era's highest-paid female screenwriters (as well as one of only *16* female screenwriters to win an Oscar in all 90 years of the ceremony.)

    So yeah, here we have a film made right at the start of WWII and the rise of Nazi Germany, with a creative team led by Jewish immigrants, all of whom had overcome adversity and oppression, telling a powerful story about persecution, and even addressing immigration head-on. The scene of Romani unsuccessfully attempting to enter Paris' closed borders definitely feels incredibly timely even today.

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    Perhaps even more pointedly, the film had its premiere at the first ever Cannes Film Festival in France, which in itself was created to protest the fascism of the Venice Film Festival. In fact, this was the only film to be screened at Cannes that year, as the event was quickly shut down due to Germany’s sudden invasion of Poland (it would not be held again until 1946, after the war was officially over.) So the fact that Hunchback, with its powerful messages of justice and equality, managed to be the only film to go up against these oppressive odds and still show to audiences is incredibly poignant, and kind of a revolutionary act in itself. Disney’s retelling certainly feels responsive to its own time period - specifically, the upswing of fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity that took place in the 80’s/early 90’s, and, on the other side of the coin, the arrival of third-wave feminism and the gay rights movement. Yet like the 1939 version, Disney's also feels eerily, sadly appropriate in our current cultural climate…

    (continued below, hopefully... keep working, computer... UGH CURSE THIS CHARACTER LIMIT...)
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
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  5. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    (continued from above...)

    Despite the fact that Hunchback is so largely identified with these social justice themes in pop culture nowadays, again, they are not at all present in Hugo's novel. The RKO and Disney films are primarily responsible for reshaping the public consciousness in this way. Sure, Hugo clearly displays an investment in class differences (I mean, it *was* 19th century France) and religious oppression, but he doesn't really go anywhere with these ideas, and certainly doesn't make any grand statements. His artistic intent was never to draw attention to racial inequality or promote any humanitarian messages - in fact, the book’s outlook on humanity is pretty bleak.

    Hugo's Romani really are ruthless crooks who basically hang people just for funsies, not to protect their secret hiding place (they actually have their own territory here and are allowed to self-govern.) And the Esmeralda/Frollo/Quasimodo/Phoebus melodrama is pretty dang misogynistic to say the least - NOTHING like Disney's super feminist interpretation. Frollo starts off as a kind father figure and respected religious official, only falling from grace and descending into violent madness after he gets the hots for Esmeralda. While the Disney movie makes it abundantly clear that Frollo is 100% accountable for his own actions, framing his slut-shaming of Esmeralda/accusations of "witchcraft" as unfounded excuses to justify his twisted views of women, Hugo is uncomfortably sympathetic toward Frollo's "suffering."

    Yes, it's clear in the book that Esmeralda is not a sorceress (just super good at teaching goats to spell), and that she has no interest in Frollo whatsoever/isn't trying to tempt him. However, the fact that she seems to possess an innate, almost supernatural power of attraction over men (basically EVERY male character wants to hook up with this 16 year old), and that this insatiable lust is responsible for the downfall of a once great and godly man, is... problematic, to say the least. (See earlier post about the prejudice of women as sex witches.) And Disney's feminist approach to the Madonna/Whore complex I mentioned earlier? Yeah, no. Hugo reinforces that complex. The chaste Esmeralda abandons her morals by almost giving her precious virginity away to Phoebus, and ends up dying as a direct result (Frollo - with Phoebus' permission - hides in a cabinet to watch them get it on, jumps out and stabs Phoebus in a fit of jealousy, frames Esmeralda for the crime, and has her hanged.)

    [​IMG]
    (I love how Phoebus and Es don't see him but Djali's down there like "THE F***???")

    So no, Hugo's intent was not to champion the underprivileged. It was to champion Notre Dame itself - as in the building, which was at the time dilapidated and largely forgotten. He dedicated page after page to lengthy descriptions of the cathedral’s beauty. (Come for the sex and murder, stay for the flying buttresses.) (Why can't I find a gif of Cogsworth talking about flying buttresses?!?) Hugo's whole point was that while the characters were all dying around it, the building itself would live on. To quote the novel, “This will kill that. The book will kill the edifice.” Not unlike the way people have decried television and cinema for ruining literature, Hugo believed that literature (namely, the advent of the printing press and mass media) was pulling attention away from architecture, which he considered to be true, man-made art. His goal with Hunchback was to direct public attention back to Notre Dame, and architecture in general.

    In this respect, Hugo certainly succeeded. The book was a huge hit, and soon after its release, Notre Dame underwent an extensive 25-year-long renovation to restore it to its former glory. Today the cathedral is considered an iconic French landmark, and is visited by millions of tourists every year. In fact, some even argue that Hugo is responsible for spurring the historical preservation movement in Europe. He was undoubtedly a huge influence, and because of his contributions, historic buildings such as Notre Dame are generally prized and well cared for the world over. The problem that Hugo was trying to solve in his day has been solved. So which is a more profound lens to apply to Hunchback when retelling the story for our day? The value of buildings? Or the value of people?

    Reframing the narrative in a modern context using themes of social justice is also what makes changes to the plot essential. This isn’t simply a case of Disney slapping on a happily ever after to make things more family friendly. I mean, yeah, obviously Disney was never going to conclude one of their films with an ending like Hugo's. But the changes that people tend to bash Disney for, such as letting Esmeralda live, are actually there for a reason - not just to pacify Disney's PR execs or conservative family organizations. Having Es die at the end simply would not have made sense in the context of the story Disney wanted to tell.

    I feel like this is made painfully clear in Disney’s stage musical version, which in itself is an interesting example of an adaptation building upon not just the source material, but other previous adaptations; in many ways, it feels like a direct response to the critics who complained that the animated film should have adhered more closely to the novel. There’s a lot I do love about the musical (“Esmeralda” is one of the most friggin’ epic Act 1 closers ever), but overall, I feel like it runs into a similar tone problem as the film - just in the opposite direction. Much of the narrative is restructured to include plot points from the original book that reflect its dour outlook on humanity (including Esmeralda's death, and having Quasi kill Frollo.) Yet the show still retains the humanist social justice themes of the film, and these two distinct POVs are completely at odds.

    The Disney film's biggest contribution to the Hunchback canon was probably their introduction of the "monster vs. man" theme, as expressed through the contrast between Frollo and Quasi (and echoed in the previously discussed Madonna/Whore deconstruction, another original Disney invention.) The Disney film is also the only Hunchback adaptation that truly addresses how abusive and effed up the Frollo/Quasi relationship really is - and has Quasi overcome this. It's honestly the only version that actually lets Quasi be the hero of his own story. The stage musical keeps this monster vs. man theme, yet completely muddies the waters by returning to Hugo’s original ending of having Quasi murder Frollo in revenge - the same type of murderous revenge that Frollo literally just inflicted on Esmeralda for rejecting him. Instead of being the bigger, better man, Quasi ends up stooping down to Frollo’s level. And in certain productions (including the one I saw), they even keep the bit about Quasi eventually dying of starvation while holding Esmeralda’s dead body. Again, this only undermines his heroic character arc; in the film, by having both Quasi and Es survive, it allows for Quasi to prove that he’s strong enough to let her go. He doesn’t fall to pieces because he didn't get the pretty girl. He values her friendship enough and respects her autonomy enough to move on, which is the *main thing that separates him from Frollo.*

    So if you want to keep the book’s tragic ending, you really need to eliminate that monster/man contrast, as well as Quasimodo’s character development and overall empowerment. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It will certainly be interesting to see how future adaptations handle this dissonance caused by combating ideas from multiple iterations. Again, the social justice themes of the 1939/1996 films have become so intrinsically linked to this story, yet modern audiences put so much pressure on filmmakers to "stay true to the book." If even Disney couldn't resist that pressure with their own stage adaptation, well... it will be interesting.

    (Also, it’s worth mentioning that Hugo would actually go on to explore these themes of justice and oppression himself in his other major work, Les Miserables, which seems to express an entirely different message than Hunchback’s bleak cynicism. I have no idea which book’s philosophy is more aligned with his own - maybe his beliefs changed over time - but I don’t think it’s some huge affront to Hugo as an “auteur” to examine his body of work as a whole and apply themes from one novel to another. I mean, that’s the whole point of auteur theory…)

    (continued below... I swear it's just one more post and it's short!! It just wouldn't fit at the end of this one...)
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
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  6. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    (continued from above...)

    9.) Iconic Shots:

    Oh man, there are SO many amazing shots in this film. But I mean...

    [​IMG]

    If you don't get chills during this moment, you may be dead inside. Yes, the shot was inspired by the 1939 film, but Disney seriously amped it up to truly epic, awe-inspiring proportions. The sweeping camera movement, the rich colors, the poetic backdrop of the stained glass window, the dramatic effect of the blowing wind, THAT MUSIC!! Seriously, that music!!! ("GLORIA, GLORIA...")

    Other personal favorites definitely include the transition between Clopin and the Archdeacon, which, as Merlin pointed out, plays with the diegesis in such a subtle but incredibly powerful, fascinating way. The animation itself is incredible as well; note how the swinging motion of the bells on Clopin's top is followed through by the swing of the cross on the Archdeacon's necklace.

    [​IMG]

    Frollo grasping at the smoke, as unattainable as Esmeralda herself. This is another great example of the filmmakers deliberately confusing the diegesis and creating a really interesting, surreal moment. Just as Smoke Esmeralda escapes from his arms, a guard appears to inform Frollo that the real Esmeralda has escaped from the cathedral. Keeping the guard's face obscured by the light behind him is such a compelling, brilliant choice as well; he doesn't break the fantasy, but instead feels like part of it.

    [​IMG]

    Another AMAZING transition is between the juxtaposing scenes of Heaven's Light and Hellfire - the bells in Quasimodo's tower fade into the swinging thuribles carried by the Archdeacon and altar servers. The prayer they're chanting, btw, is the Confiteor, which is what the red-hooded figures in Frollo's fantasy chant moments later ("mea culpa.") This feels especially fitting since it's a prayer that's started by a priest, but finished by the congregants. (I'm not Catholic and don't actually know a whole lot about Catholicism, I just know a whole lot about this movie and have studied it to death lol. Sorry if I sound like I'm Catholic-splaining to you actual Catholics out there. xD )

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    Then, the camera rises up to the stained glass window (a visual motif seen throughout the film), pulling into a close-up of the Virgin Mary at the center. This is the figure whom Frollo prays to in Hellfire ("Beata Maria.") She's actually positioned *right* over Frollo's location in this shot.

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    The camera continues to glide over the streets of Paris (sorry, this is turning into a full scene analysis lol. Probably should've just analyzed the whole segment in its own separate question but I'll spare you from that and try to wrap things up.) The lights of each house gradually dim until Frollo's window is the only one left illuminated, symbolizing that we've left the angelic "Heaven's Light" of Notre Dame and are descending into Frollo's dark "Hellfire."

    [​IMG]

    The last shot I'll mention (although I'm sure I'll think of more favorites immediately after posting this) is Frollo climbing onto the gargoyle near the end, preparing to kill Esmeralda. This moment is SO intense, and the camera angles/movements in particular are just incredible. The camera creeps upward along with him, slowly tilting *ever so slightly* askew to convey an uneasy feeling of disorientation. Then we cut to a low-angle shot of Esmeralda cowering in the frame, her face awash with terror (and a tinge of shock/disgust.) Frollo's sword crosses the frame right over her face, and we cut to a wide, low-angle shot of him as he now towers over her; he completely overpowers the frame.

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    Note, too, that his eyes are now a glowing, demonic shade of red/orange, symbolizing that he's completely succumbed to the Hellfire inside him.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Stray thoughts...

    • It's worth noting that the Romani people are pretty vocal nowadays about the fact that they consider the term "gypsy" to be an ethnic slur. I'm not sure if that's always how they've felt, or if there was a time when they did self-identify as "gypsies" before the word became used by others in a derogatory sense (and co-opted by ~free spirited~ hipsters.) But that's why I try to respectfully refer to them only as Romani, except in instances where the context calls for it (like when quoting the film.)
    • This film has so many profoundly sad yet super subtle moments, like when Quasimodo's mother runs away instead of revealing her bundle to be a baby, which seems like the logical move to protect him. But since Quasi is "deformed," she knows Frollo and the guards are likely to kill him (which is exactly what Frollo subsequently attempts to do.) In this era, it certainly wasn't unusual for babies with facial differences/physical abnormalities to be killed or abandoned, as they were often considered demons sent as punishment for a parent's sins.
    • The "Olim" chant at the very start of the film (when the screen is black, before we cut to the establishing shot of Notre Dame), translates in English to "Someday, someday, Godspeed this bright millennium, let it come some day." You may recognize these as lyrics from the song that plays over the end credits, "Someday," also written by the film's composers (Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.) I find this so fascinating, as 1482 (the year in which the story takes place) was obviously quite some time away from the next millennium. So this subtle allusion to our modern day right at the beginning of the film (not just over the credits, but in the film) feels like a very pointed statement on behalf of the filmmakers, reminding the audience that not only do these themes still resonate 500 years later, but also imploring us to see our monumental new millennium as a turning point to do better.
    • The reason why so many of you mentioned that this film reminded you of Beauty and the Beast is probably because it was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, the same filmmakers who directed BatB. ;) (They also directed Atlantis, and Trousdale directed the more recent made-for-TV specials "Shrek the Halls" and "Scared Shrekless," which is... sad, tbh.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  7. caw caw rawr

    caw caw rawr Squirrel!

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    @NutMeg : Thank you for your analysis! While still not my favorite film (can we still be friends?) I wanted to give you some serious props for your passion and also your knowledge of not just the movie, but the book and the context! I have a new respect for this film and now understand the 'why' behind that long architecture section of the book because of your explanation of the importance of Notre Dame herself. I appreciate the love you have for this movie and I can see why you love it. Thank you again!
     
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  8. Meritre

    Meritre Active Member

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    I was told (we read a short text about this what to call people so we don't odfeent them problem at the university) that mostly they say the name doesn't matter. It's how they are treated that really matters. And yes a disrespectful, mocking tone can make any name inaccepteble. I too believe that it matter how we treat them - not only them but all minorities (my country has plenty, even gypsy/Romani and had even more in the past)
    I hope I'm not disrespecful, I didn't intend to be.

    You always do such deep analysis of the movies, thank you so much for giving so many interesting and new information. :)
     
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  9. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    Awww! <3 I'm so thrilled that I could actually broaden your perception of the film and even help elevate it a bit in your estimation! That's incredibly flattering to me, since I'm so passionate about both this movie and cinema in general (I'm a film student.) Thank you so much!! And yes, we can still be friends haha! I'm actually pretty ok with this just being *my* movie on here. :p Yes I know, I'm just an outcast... xD

    Also, thanks so much to the few of you who will actually take the time to read my whole long-winded analysis in full lol (6 posts!! Woo, new record! ;)) Whenever I hear someone bash this film I always try to go into all this nitty-gritty stuff and convince them to appreciate it a bit more, but I obviously never get too far before people zone out or cut me off. xD So yeah, it feels super good to finally get all that off my chest haha. I can die happy now. (YAAAH HOO-HOO-HOOEY...!!!)
     
  10. Meritre

    Meritre Active Member

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    I think there are two musical adaptations, a french-canadian musical, Notre-Dame de Paris (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre-Dame_de_Paris_(musical)) with The Age of the Cathedrals and Belle (is the only word) as the most well known songs (they used the books title - it's more based on the book but Esmeralda is a gypsy girl) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_(musical))
    (I've seen the later one one stage but I can't remember much as I've only seen it once :( And yes, in case you haven't noticed my other passion besides Disney are musicals)

    And both versions have the problems you mentioned.
     
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  11. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    Ok, just a FEW more thoughts to share and then I'm DONE, I swear (she said unconvincingly...)
    • When Frollo is about to kill baby Quasi, he tells the Archdeacon “This is an unholy demon. I’m sending it back to hell, where it belongs.” He repeats this same phrase when he lights Esmeralda’s pyre, telling the crowd that it is his solemn duty to “send this unholy demon back where she belongs.” This subtle mirroring is one of several deft ways in which the film likens Frollo’s discrimination against Quasi to his discrimination against Esmeralda, further cementing their bond.
    • That bond (at least in this film) is so beautiful and moving, especially the scene where she reads his palm atop the roof of the cathedral. There are so many tiny details that are incredibly heartbreaking, yet ultimately add to the sweetness of their friendship. Like the way Quasi instinctively pulls away when Es reaches out to touch him:
    • [​IMG]
    • Or how he looks down at his palm after she tells him that he doesn’t have any “monster lines,” as if he's doubtful and needs to check for himself:
    • [​IMG]
    • This is another area where Disney really improves upon Hugo, in my opinion. In the book, while Esmeralda does come to Quasi’s aid as he’s tortured in the town square (by giving him a drink of water), this is the only significant act of kindness she shows him. She’s frightened of his appearance, and she never really gets over that fear. After he saves her life and brings her to Notre Dame to claim sanctuary, she lives there with him for a while; Quasi is always sure to stay in the shadows and hide his face, so as not to scare her. She doesn’t really warm up to him until he promises to send a message to her beloved Phoebus, and when he fails, she goes into full teenager mode and pouts/gives him the cold shoulder. She’s kidnapped and hanged by Frollo shortly thereafter, so yeah, this is pretty much the note their relationship ends on. Disney is the first adaptation to really focus on giving them a mutual emotional connection.
    • While Frollo and his soldiers are the ones who attack Notre Dame in the film, it’s actually the Romani who do so in the book. Frollo tricks them into believing that Esmeralda is about to be removed from the cathedral for execution, so they gather an army to go break down the doors and rescue her. While they do clearly care about her, they also express interest in stealing all the silver and gold from the church; as the scene progresses, you kinda get the impression that this is their main motivation, and rescuing Es is more of a pretense. Not only does this support Hugo’s overall characterization of the Romani as unscrupulous thieves, but considering his reverence for architecture, and that the entire point of this book was to convince people to appreciate and restore Notre Dame, it feels as though he’s suggesting that this attack on the church is the single greatest offense committed in the book (and this is a book that also contains murder, torture, and attempted rape.) I mean, the whole reason that Notre Dame was in such extreme disrepair at the time Hugo wrote this was because actual armies had waged similar assaults on it - further proof that he deliberately meant to vilify the Romani, and even liken them to a destructive, invading force. Sooo yeah, another point for Disney.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  12. Addicted to Alice Pins

    Addicted to Alice Pins My name is Ann, and I'm here to enable you!

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    @NutMeg, I salute you for your deep and scholarly love for this film. I understand why you like it, but I still don't. Ha ha ha.

    It's just too "flat" for me. That's my personal opinion and I'm not trying to "argue" with anyone who sees beauty in it. But I just sat there watching it and felt absolutely zero emotional connection to it, beyond my WTF feelings about certain aspects. Even the animation--I'm reading you guys raving about the glorious depiction of Notre Dame, and I'm wondering what you're seeing that I'm not. Granted, I've gotten used to the depth that CGI offers, but there are other 2D animated films that I think convey the beauty of place better than Hunchback. The cathedral looks really drab and ... flat. I have no other word for it. Even the Rose Window doesn't dazzle me. The only scene that I think really depicts its beauty is when Esme is inside singing and she ends up standing in the reflection of the stained glass on the floor. I thought that was beautiful. But the rest of time, it really doesn't look like much more than a standard movie backdrop from back in the day when the budget and technology didn't allow for elaborate settings. Blah.

    And I have zero emotional interest in/connection to the main characters. Academically, I know how Quasi feels, but the movie does not succeed in making me FEEL it. Again, I just watch it like I'm watching the neighbors across the street move furniture into and out of their house--it's happening and there's nothing else to look at right now but I don't actually care. I'm not engaged by it. Yeah, that's a subjective experience to a degree ... but I bawled during the Mamma Mia sequel, for crying out loud. Granted, that was because the emotional core of the story very, very directly related to my own recent experiences and I felt them way more deeply than the average person who went into the movie looking for a glorious ABBA-fueled cheesefest. My point is, I'm not emotionally dead inside (ha ha). So if the characters didn't grab me, that's not entirely a failing on my part. :p

    Again, though, the depth of your love for Hunchback is evident, and I think it's fantastic that the movie has a champion. I just don't like working that hard to appreciate something. If you don't grab me, I'm not doing the work for you (oh, filmmakers)--you didn't do your job well enough, and that's what you got paid for. Ha ha. (Same thing with books. Thinking and interpreting is one thing, but it's not my responsibility to make sense of your ball-dropping. Do not EVER get me started on Ann Patchett's State of Wonder.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  13. MerlinEmrys

    MerlinEmrys Hicitus Pinicus!

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    [​IMG]
    Hercules (1997)

    Monday/Tuesday is our "wrap-up" discussion on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So you're welcome to respond to other analyses throughout the day.

    However, you may not post any more full analyses for The Hunchback of Notre Dame to count for completion toward the 52 Challenge. No late homework. ;P

    ~Merlin
     
  14. MerlinEmrys

    MerlinEmrys Hicitus Pinicus!

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    Suuuuuper sorry guys for being so late in rolling this over. First week of classes is just....madness....

    Anywho, please don't think my tardiness is an indication that I'm not SUPER FREAKING PUMPED ABOUT THE MOVIE THIS WEEK!

    Hit it ladies!
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. caw caw rawr

    caw caw rawr Squirrel!

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  16. Addicted to Alice Pins

    Addicted to Alice Pins My name is Ann, and I'm here to enable you!

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    I wish the forum would let me push Like 27,000 times.
     
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  17. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    That's totally fine that you don't like it haha. I mean, I'm bummed that I couldn't change your mind at all, but like I said, art is subjective! My judgmental-sounding comments about the film's detractors (and Mr. Potato Head's comment, lol - that definitely wasn't me) were just my sarcastic Megara-esque sense of humor. :p Since so much of my analysis was focused on dry, academic stuff, I tried to slip in jokes to make it more readable. But I hope it didn't actually come across as condescending; I definitely didn't mean to offend anyone! I respect everyone's right to an opinion. <3 Obviously, I know what it's like to feel judged for your taste in film/art - I mean, that's the whole reason why I feel the need to defend Hunchback! Because people look down on it so much. (And also the reason why I try to include at least a couple compliments in every analysis, even when I don't like the movie at all haha.)

    Anyway, like I said, I fully admit that a big part of my love for this film is purely subjective. It just speaks to me - including in the areas that it decidedly did *not* speak to you, haha. The characters are one of my favorite aspects! Again, in my opinion, Esmeralda is such a bright spot in the troubled history of Disney females, and I find Frollo to be an incredibly complex and riveting villain. And I personally do feel for Quasi, and think that his character arc is quite compelling, especially in the larger context of the Disney canon. I love that he's actually accepted (and learns to accept himself) for who he is, and doesn't need to physically change in any way to achieve that - no magical transformation from Beast to human, no gaining of legs, no becoming a "real boy," etc. I think that sends a great message to kids with disabilities ("Life, Animated," a documentary about an autistic child's love for Disney, contains a really sweet example of this in action.) To be fair, I didn't always feel as strongly about his characterization, and felt it was largely overshadowed by the Esmeralda/Frollo conflict. It was definitely something I learned to appreciate over subsequent rewatches. And seeing the stage adaptation was a major turning point in my perception of the character, because the actor who played him... honestly, it was one of THE most moving performances I've EVER seen, period. Like the original Quasi of the novel, the actor is deaf in real life; he spoke his lines, but the singing was provided by one of the gargoyles, with Quasi simultaneously using sign language. I swear, he expressed more with his hands alone than most actors do with their voices. And he was just so lovable! (I met him after the show and he was the sweetest thing ever offstage as well!) See this video for an example of his cuteness. :p AND this video of him signing along with "Out There" at WDW!!! He went with the actor who played the gargoyle OMG I love it. <3 <3 <3 I'm totally casting him in my future live-action adaptation. xD Lol. (Sorry to ramble, but he seriously endeared the character to me on a whole new level, and I gained a newfound appreciation for how he's written. So that explains my POV a little more as well. Despite the stage version's flaws, I wish this production had been taped so everyone could see his performance!)

    But yeah, emotional responses are completely subjective. However, just because a film doesn't resonate with some viewers doesn't mean the filmmakers "failed" as you say. Because there's just no pleasing everyone - and that's ok. You always want to reach as many viewers as possible, but when you focus too much on satisfying everyone, that's how you end up with generic, pandering films that ultimately feel more like commercial products. Hunchback's filmmakers clearly took some big chances by risking potential audience appeal/marketability in the name of creativity and an attempt to expand Disney's artistic limitations, and I respect that a lot. The fact that you were moved by something as frothy and seemingly simplistic as Mamma Mia 2 doesn't demonstrate that Hunchback is thematically inferior or ineffective - it actually just proves the relativity of it all, and that there's no one metric you can judge a film's "depth" by. Because the truth is that most people probably won't have such a strong emotional reaction to a film like Mamma Mia 2. But it doesn't make your response any less valid/meaningful, or prove that the filmmakers failed to create something substantial. It was substantial to you, so there ya go. (Another reason why I'm so defensive about this is probably because I'm a filmmaker and am way too freaking sensitive haha. I have no idea how certain filmmakers can be so confident in their work and just not care what critics/audiences think. It must be nice to be a straight white male artist who doesn't feel the need to prove anything, I guess. xD )

    Obviously, like any other craft, there *is* an objective metric for judging the method and technique of filmmaking. I mean, I applied that metric myself in my own analysis and was totally upfront about Hunchback's flaws. Because they certainly are evident. But there *are* definite facets of Hunchback that are just objectively excellent, like the camerawork and editing. It's funny, most people don't even pay attention to a film's editing - expect when it's bad! Then all the cuts stick out like a sore thumb. xD I mean, yeah, successful editing should be seamless and un-distracting, but good editors are kind of unsung heroes in this way. (Can you tell what my current job is? Lol.)

    I'm actually glad that there are differing perspectives here regarding the film though, because it's definitely providing one of the most lively, in-depth discussions. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
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  18. NutMeg

    NutMeg The Nefarious N.M.G.

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    *right click* *save as*
     
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  19. Meritre

    Meritre Active Member

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    So, let's explore beeing different in another way than different look. :) Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame share a lot as far as beeing different is concerned, I think :)
     
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  20. Addicted to Alice Pins

    Addicted to Alice Pins My name is Ann, and I'm here to enable you!

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    I said I wasn't here to argue, but I lied.

    Again, you love this movie and see a lot in it and that's wonderful. I do think you did a great job of showing me why YOU like it. So I'm reluctant to keep to discussing it because my goal really, truly is not to make you dislike it (I wouldn't succeed, and honestly we can each like whatever we like, full stop). Buuttttt some of your arguments for it just emphasize the point I was trying to make.

    Mamma Mia 2 is not a movie of substance. It's not even a great movie, although I enjoyed it because it was generally what I was expecting and in the mood to watch. I'm not arguing for Mamma Mia 2 as "best movie ever." My POINT is that someone affiliated with that movie, whether screenwriter, producer, IDK who, is the grieving only child (daughter specifically) of a departed, beloved mother. That person not only understands but helped to articulate the exact feelings I have. Yes, that is 100% subjective and relates directly to ME as an individual watching that movie with a very particular recent history. But it provided a direct connection to the emotional core, because for a few minutes, Sophie was me and I was Sophie. Plenty of other folks watching that movie will not have the emotional response I did, but I've heard from a few people who are NOT circumstanced as I am that they too got teary during some of those moments.

    My point is, those moments and bits of dialogue came from a place of truth and sincerity. In a movie that is not remotely about "depth" (I don't even understand what Andy Garcia is doing in it, for one thing--and I mean, I really don't know where his character is coming from, as depicted, ha ha), there was a genuine emotion that plenty of people could respond to.

    My problem with Hunchback is that it is lacking in that true emotional core. And I would say that your argument actually does more to prove my point than you intend. Yes, we all bring our own experiences, perceptions, etc, into art. But you are doing ALL the heavy lifting for the filmmakers on this one. You are bringing in all your scholarly "baggage" (for lack of a better word) to bear on THIS specific representation of Hunchback. OK, that's fine and fair. But by your own admission, it was the actor depicting Quasi in the stage musical (which sounds fantastic, btw) who made the character resonate with you. And you carried that back to the animated version. Ummmmm. That tells me, rightly or wrongly, that IT WASN'T THERE IN THE ANIMATED VERSION. You had to import your memory and response of someone else's depiction in order to relate to the character better. That's transference. It's not "Wow, this version really GOT Quasi and made his story sing." If we evaluate this exact version of Hunchback, which is the only reference point the average person has ... the movie has flaws.

    Among this week's analyses, I don't think (and I may be misremembering, so I'll go back and scroll through when I finish this and save, ha) anyone really said, "Man, Quasi gave me the feels. I have been in his shoes, and I felt like he really reflected how I have felt in my life." Now, maybe people who have experienced bullying or something else relatable don't want to get into that on a semi-open forum, and I totally respect that. But people reacted more strongly, good or bad, to other characters. And the dude is the TITLE CHARACTER. As I myself said, I thought Esme was great, but the movie isn't called Esme and the Dude in the Tower. The villain is a more developed character than our protagonist. It's Esme and Frollo and a bunch of cardboard figures moving around the screen. There needs to be something there for people to react to, no matter HOW they react (that's the subjective part). But it seems more like people know they're supposed to cheer for Quasi and he's a good guy and all that, but I don't see a ton of folks walking around with Quasi 4 Prezident buttons or anything. He's just there and it's all good and we can go back to what we were doing now.

    So, again, we's just not gonna agree on this and the thing that actually IS great about 'merica is that THAT IS OK. I like ya a lot so I really don't want to fight about this. And as I said in my previous post, it's not a matter of questioning anyone's intelligence for liking or not liking a particular thing. I don't think you're stupid for liking it as much as you do; I just ask that you not imply that I "just don't get it" because I don't have the same response that you do. (I don't think you were condescending in your response, but some of it hit a nerve anyway, ha ha.)

    ENJOY HERCULES, KIDS!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  21. Meritre

    Meritre Active Member

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    True
     
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  22. Tokaji

    Tokaji Pins and Needles

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    PREEEEAAAACH
     
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  23. LittleBird

    LittleBird Well-Known Member

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    Is there though? I don't mean to get all postmodern, but you yourself said that stories change over time (you're damn right about that, btw). I would argue that styles and tastes do as well. Even if every filmmaker/critic/film scholar agreed that a certain technique was effective, would that make it *objectively* good, especially if in ten years' time that same technique is considered passe or dated? It's difficult to even argue that something is "effective," since that relies upon an understanding of the effect it has, and we are incapable of having direct contact with someone else's experience. Everything we think must be filtered through language, and talking about a visual medium like film can be particularly difficult. Film critics/scholars achieve success because they articulate insights or opinions that resonate with the reactions experienced by many people, not because they are right per se.

    As an editor, I would cry if everyone started prefacing every opinion they voiced here with "I think" or "IMHO," but when discussing art (as opposed to a field based on empirical data and even then you get into thorny issues of bias), I would argue that subjectivity should be understood as implied.

    Or maybe I've just been working on too many philosophy books lately.
     
  24. Addicted to Alice Pins

    Addicted to Alice Pins My name is Ann, and I'm here to enable you!

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    Before I got to the end of your post, I was planning to reply, "And that, ladies and gents, is a woman who has spent too much time editing a book of philosophy by a Swedish author!!!" Everybody, give Kim a big hand for surviving, never mind constructing a thoughtful "argument" about Art. :D
     
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  25. LittleBird

    LittleBird Well-Known Member

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    It's true. I read philosophy for 15 hours straight yesterday. :D Don't try this at home, kids. I'm a professional.
     

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