(Revisiting the Renaissance is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of the 13 films of the Disney Renaissance, released between 1986 and 1999. In today’s column, he discusses the 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.)
In the mid-1980s, when Jeffrey Katzenberg sat down to watch an early cut of The Black Cauldron, one of the concerns he had was that the film was too dark. Even in the 1980s, there existed a cultural notion of what was and was not acceptable and expected from a “Disney movie”. A film in which a character called the Horned King strives to raise an army of the dead was simply too grim for the studio to handle.
But The Black Cauldron also arrived at a low point for Disney animation. The studio couldn’t push the envelope because they were struggling to get by. Being daring is risky enough when you’re popular, let alone on death’s door. When, however, you become wildly successful with critics and worldwide audiences, you can push yourselves and your target demographics.
Take, for example, a film from the same studio released in the summer of 1996. This film opens with a six-minute musical number in which a self-righteous and cruel villain murders an innocent, defenseless woman and is just barely stopped from drowning a deformed baby by a horrified priest.
In short, it takes very little time for Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to establish that it’s not fucking around.
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the next beloved Disney animated staple to get the live-action treatment.
The live-action musical, simply titled Hunchback, will adapt not only 1996 Disney film but the 1831 Victor Hugo novel upon which it was based. And if you’re wondering exactly how they’re going to turn this surprisingly dark Disney animated movie into a family-friendly live-action film, the House of Mouse is reportedly eyeing its favorite comedic bit player, Josh Gad, for the lead.
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Idris Elba will be putting a sexier, modern-day spin on Victor Hugo‘s Gothic classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Elba will be directing, producing, and starring in The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix in a movie that is described as a “sonic and musical experience.” But that’s not the best part — Elba, who is a pretty successful DJ when he’s not working as a Hollywood star, will also be producing original music for the feature.
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(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: a look back at Disney’s post-rennaisance animated output, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Hercules.)
When people think of Disney, they often jump to the classics – Bambi, Dumbo, Snow White, and so on. But my generation has a different list. We were raised on the studio’s late ’80s and early ’90s “renaissance” titles, including Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King. But after 1995, the seemingly unstoppable Disney animation machine began to slow down. The films of the late ’90s live on as childhood favorites, not undisputed classics.
And that brings me to the question of the moment: some 20 years later, do these later films of the renaissance era hold up? Are their charms enough to cover their bigger flaws? Is it all nostalgia or are some of these true cinematic gems? Please keep your arms, feet and legs inside the vehicle at all times, because we’re about to take a trip to the late-’90s era of the House of Mouse.
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How a film opens says a lot about its style and tone, and can turn people off or make them sit forward in their seats with curiosity. This week’s big new release, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, has a hard act to follow; its 2014 predecessor had a memorable opening in which hero Peter Quill/Star-Lord dances through an alien world, blasting “Come and Get Your Love” on his old Walkman. As we wait to see if Vol. 2 lives up to the original, let’s look at 15 of the best opening scenes in movies.
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Disney has a long history of bringing their successful film musicals into real life via the theater stage. Movies like Beauty and The Beast, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid have all made it to Broadway. The Lion King, Newsies and Aladdin are still (or soon to be) playing. There are rumors Frozen is in the works too, but before that can go into production a brand new project has been announced. It’s based on the 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and will feature the music and lyrics of multiple Oscar, Grammy and Tony winners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, responsible for work like Newsies, Wicked, and Little Shop of Horrors.
The show will debut at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA in October before a potential, but as-yet-unconfirmed, Broadway run. Read More »
Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Angie Han
Even casual Disney fans have likely noticed that the studio’s various animated features often contain subtle nods at each other. Rapunzel from Tangled has Disney fairy tale books in her collection, Nani from Lilo & Stitch has a Mulan poster, et cetera. But what if these aren’t mere sight gags from playful animators. What if, instead, they’re hard evidence that all of these movies take place in the same universe?
In an homage of sorts to Jon Negroni’s The Pixar Theory, Josh Butler posits that 30 of Disney’s animated features share a world. His thesis requires some suspension of disbelief — for one thing, it involves a lot of magic and time travel — but it’s fun to think about nonetheless. Hit the jump to see how Butler’s theory shakes out.
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Sucker Punch hits next week, and I still have no idea what to expect from the film. But despite the fact that I’m not a particularly big fan of Disney’s princess characters, seeing them inserted into the trailer for Sucker Punch somehow makes a certain sense. Watch the edit after the jump. Read More »
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
In honor of Walt Disney Animation releasing it’s 50th full length film Tangled, our friends the Fine Brothers have filed the latest episode of their popular “Spoiler” series. You might remember that we’ve featured their videos 100 Movie Spoilers in 4 minutes, Spoiling Every Best Picture Winner in Oscar History, 50 spoilers of 2009 in 4 minutes, and 100 Horror Movie Spoilers in 5 Minutes. Hit the jump to watch their latest. And if it isn’t completely obvious already, please be warned that the following video contains spoilers.
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With the recent fixation on making big budget action-oriented versions of classic stories and characters like Sherlock Holmes, the Three Musketeers and Don Quixote, it should come as no surprise that one more classic has fallen into the studio mill.
Paramount has bought a pitch by Willie Block and Jake Emanuel that jumps off from the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. See, the great thing about these adaptations is that nobody reads anymore, but they do recognize classic titles like this one. So it’s an easy goldmine. What will the potential film entail? If you’ve seen one of the Pirates films, or Sherlock Holmes, you should already be able to predict it. Read More »