The Hunchback of Notre Dame Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 12, 2007
Deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo takes it upon himself to protect the beautiful and kindhearted gypsy girl Esmeralda when she is falsely accused of murder. The silent version with Lon Chaney is understandably overshadowed by the magnificent talkie with Charles Laughton, but this one is fast-paced and spectacular by silent film standards, packing quite a bit of Victor Hugo's novel into about two hours.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2012
Worth seeing for Lon Chaney's performance and the grand 15th century Paris settings.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2009
To be honest I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. I'm especially disappointed that adaptation decay existed even in the very early pictures, and I wasn't really able to get over how sanitised elements of it were from the novel.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2008
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is possibly the earliest film adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel and features some of the most iconic film visuals of the 20th century. Lon Chaney is a legend of the silver screen, most famous for his amazing make-up techniques and his willingness to throw himself into his part (perhaps he was cinema's first "method actor"?). However, while Chaney seems only capable of two facial expressions, he brings a wide array of subtle ticks (constantly flicking his tongue out of his mouth, for instance) and broad physical movements to the role. The film itself suffers from a lack of editing, it takes alot of time for a little to happen. Watching a great silent film can be like watching a painting come to life, like watching the angels dance in the Sistine chapel, but watching a bad one can be like watching the paint dry. This film falls somewhere in the middle, saved mainly by the last act, where the true sadness of Quasimodo's life and character is seen. I'm looking forward to seeing Charles Laughton's performance of the title role.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2008
Beautiful film. Very well acted.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2008
silent "the hunchback of notre dame" is the primary stage of this classic adaption from victor hugo's masterpiece, compared with the later 40s production with charles laughten and mareen o'hara, the silent version is more sheerly simplified without the sarcastic romantic undertone of beauty and beast, here the beast is actually deformed human with a heart of salvaging saint.

the message beneath this fable is the condemnation upon human's vain judgements upon the outward looks. hunchback is mercilessly scorned and harshly bashed by the heartless citizens as some stirring public sensationalism while they witness hunchback as the king of the fools as well as some exhibition for their simmering cruelty. the preacher who frames the gypsy beauty is also another disguise of evil menace hidden beneath christian piety. the gypsy girl would be prime example of inner kindness reflected upon the beauty, and her chaste virginity is another stereotyped consecration of madonna/whore complex which inspires the gallantry from the handsome aristocratic general as her prince charming that delineates an archetyped picture of ideal coupling.

lon chaney's hunchback is sexless without any covet for our beauty here, and the presence of the ghetto poet as well as the boiling tumult of mob violence is diluted to construct a less disturbing set without the sexual suppression and the fanatic acid of hatred in charles laughten's version, so the 20s "hunchback of notre dame" is more of an idealistic picture to elucidate the virtue behind a disfigured shell as well as the innocent romance of angelical beauty and dashing nobleman.
Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2008
Lon Chaney creates another iconic deformed literary character - Quasimodo. There is some great stunt work done for him as Quasimodo climbs down the front of Notre Dame cathedral. If you've seen another version of the tale, there is nothing drastically different. All the familiar characters are present. Esmeralda does not look at all like a gypsy, but it is explained away by a flashback plot where she was kidnapped from her well-to-do French mother. Clopin is the king of the beggars. He wants to begin a revolution of the poor against the rich. The divide between the haves and the have-nots is extreme. The king's justice is corrupt and unfair. There is a good archdeacon and his evil brother. Quasimodo spends time being influenced by each of them. Esmeralda falls for womanizer and recently promoted Captain of the Guards, Phoebus. She is also kind to the half-made bell ringer. Of course, there is the moment when Quasimodo yells, "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" to protect her. There are several massive crowd scenes, but most are shot from quite a distance. The tone remains serious. As Victor Hugo was a verbose author, so this picture seems to have a higher than normal number of lengthy title cards. This Hunchback indiscriminately protects the cathedral from Clopin's mob and the king's soldiers. He is easily manipulated and it is too bad that his relationship with Esmeralda is not given more time.
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2007
A very impressive and intense silent epic from 1923. The overall tone of the movie is surprisingly grim and brutal, which only adds the the quality, as it is true to the book it is based upon: Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dammen.

The movie is about a deformed outcast who lives in the Parisian catherdral Norte-Damm. He gets involuntarily mingled up in an intruige over the love of a Gypsy Woman, named Esmeralda.

As stated above, a few scenes of the movie are very drastic considering the time it was released. The whipping of Quasimodo, the Hunchback, sent shivers down my spine. Second, there is a scene where Esmeralda gets tortured (questioned, as the inquisition used to phonycall it) with a spanish boot.

Another scene, where a guard wooes Esmeralde is even quite raunchy, for he pulls down her skirt, blanking her shoulder to hint a sexual intension.

The most important thing however is Lon Chaney, who is not as well known as the trinity of monster actors, Karloff, Lee and Lugosi, but unlinke Karloff for example Chaney was very well able to act very intense under masks, see Karloffs good but obviously "undead" performances in Frankenstein and The Mummy. Just like in "Phantom of the Opera" Chaney's eyes glow with the agony of a heartbroken monster. Furthermore, his portrait of the hunchback is, oddly enough considering the nature of his role, very artistic. He jumps and strolls, expressing his feelings. Chaney wore braces to make his legs look deformed, which actually gave him injuries for the rest of his life. His makeup should also be complimented.

The rest of the cast is rather unshiny. The two leads, both male and female, the antagonist villain are very standard and, like in many silent movies, you can clearly see the lack of camera training the artists had in those days, still exaggerating their emotions and outrageous to an distorted extent.
July 18, 2010
technically advanced for its time, i assumed when i watched it that it was from 27 or 28 as opposed to 23.
September 6, 2009
Lon Chany is magnificent as Quasimodo in this tale of love. He defends the beautiful Esmerelda from being wrongfully executed by barricading himself in Notre Dame. The sets are amazing as well as Chany's make-up.
½ August 18, 2008
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a true horror classic. Lon Chaney is perfect, in one of my favorite performances of his. The film is well-made, but I feel that it was stretched quite a bit in the middle. Lon Chaney's makeup is still today amazing.
½ May 15, 2008
I actually dowlnoaded this movie off youtube-its really good. lon chaney was really good at his job and deserves all the praise associated with wonderful acting :)
May 9, 2007
Although this version does not stay true to the book, I find that Lon Chaney is one of the best actors who has ever played Quasimodo.
½ June 9, 2006
This was the old silent version with Lon Chaney, and it was good up until they started deviating from the movie. What's with Esmeralda surviving? And how come Frollo isn't the villain? Sheesh, if I get that irate over the plot changes in this movie, I can't imagine my reaction to the Disney version.
July 20, 2012
The Only Two Universal Monster Films That Are My Favorites Are 1931's Frankenstein And 1931's Dracula.
½ September 17, 2013
Long, but good. The performances are great, the Hunchback look great, and the film has the right kind of atmosphere. It stays up there in the Classics from the Silent Era.
April 12, 2013
Lon Chaney brings more magic to the screen as he flawlessly pulls off the role of the hunchback.
April 9, 2013
An ugly and deformed outcast falls in love and saves a gypsy lady from execution by keeping her within the walls of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Lon Chaney steals the show in one of his most memorable roles, playing the hunchback full of anguish but with a great heart. It is too bad that the direction is much too low key and that the scenario does not do the story justice.
October 12, 2012
It's a shame so very few people know about this superb silent film. I was captivated by it the first time I watched because it is superbly performed, is stunning to look, has a great story, has genuine emotion, and the finale is stunning and beautifully done. Why this has not gone on to become a classic like other silent films, I'll never know, but I will always cherish this superb film. If you like silent films, you must see it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2012
Worth seeing for Lon Chaney's performance and the grand 15th century Paris settings.
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