The Top Five Best Movie Quasimodo
From the English title of Victor's Hugo's novel to the universal monster movie, Quasimodo has been at the forefront of the story, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Most modern versions tend to focus on him more than they other characters and even if the title isn’t The Hunchback of Notre Dame it’s either Quasimodo or Hunchback.
It's understandable why this is the case though, Quasimodo is such a deeply tragic and compelling character that so many great actors have played him and many more actors want to play him. However which actor has played the role of the tragic bell-ringing hunchback the best?
This page is a look at which Quasimodo in film, and by extension TV movies are included, is the best depiction of the character and just all around memorable character.
And because the pool is fairly small of Hunchback that are films that can be watched this is The Top 5 Best Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Since there are always rumors of new versions being made, this list is subject to change, Josh Brolin has talked about making a new version for years and there is an upcoming Live action Disney remake in the works with Josh Gad taking the helm.
No word as of yet if Gad will play Quasimodo or not but there is a trend for actors who spearhead a Hunchback productions to play the bellringer. So we shall have to wait and see for casting news.
1997 version a.k.a Hunchback, Mandy Patinkin
This version of Quasimodo from the 1997 TV movie Hunchback is a departure from the original Quasimodo from the novel. He is likes books and learning but he is also a lot softer and nicer.
Patinkin also gives a very nice emotional performance but where he really excels is with the physicality of the role.
The real issue with the role is that he isn’t really given a character arc which takes away from the drama of the role. He doesn’t have any edge which even Disney Quasimodo had but he has all the pathos.
But even with the sadness this version has in his character, the fault of this Quasimodo lies in the writing. He doesn’t try to kidnap Esmeralda which was on Frollo’s order instead he was just trying to help.
Here is a bit of Trivia, Mandy Patinkin audition for the voice of Quasimodo in the Disney version. The audition was disastrous and he lost the role to Tom Hulce.
The Disney Version
To be fair to the Disney version of Hunchback, the creators were never really out to adapt the novel, not really. David Stainton, an executive at Disney was inspired by the graphic novel of Hunchback he read as a child. The production also took cues from the Chaney version (1923) and the Laughton version (1939) to make Quasimodo the center character. So doing an animated version of Hugo's novel was never really their intent.
As it stand Disney's Quasimodo is the nicest and most friendly Quasimodo to date.
Much like Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid, Quasimodo wants to explore a world he has only dreamed about and is being kept from by his father figure.
This is a standard character type for Disney as it does help children relate more to character than if he was a morose misanthropic, deaf recluse who loves a shallow teenage and whose whole being is a church.
The Disney version is a memorable character as he nice but he does change as he learns to stand up to adoptive father, Frollo who verbal abused him for two decades.
You get on his side and you want to see him succeed , so even though he didn’t get a love story it is emotionally satisfying in the end when he accepted and celebrated by the people of Paris.
1982 version, Anthony Hopkins
A trend with movie depictions of Quasimodo is to make very are similar o the 1939 version of character. That is the case with the 1997 version and is the case with the 1982 Tv movie.
The 1982 Quasimodo is sympathetic and very humanized. Much like the 1997 version he doesn’t have a lot of edge or malice to his personality. He does however follow the orders of his Frollo.
This Quasimodo does however insert a little good nature humor into his lines which connect him more to the audience and gives him his humanity.
1923 version, Lon Chaney
The 1923 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is also often referred to as the Lon Chaney version.
As it currently stands in the film world, Chaney’s depiction of Quasimodo is the closest to the book. He has pathos but he also displays the character's morose attitude and anger that he has in the book.
Chaney also gives an exuberant psychical performance which is needed for a silent movie and was the style of acting at the time. Chaney also did his own make-up and stunts which makes the role his own.
The trouble with Chaney and with the version as a whole is that there isn’t a strong emotional core which leads to some what muddle movie experience. Also Chaney’s Quasimodo also comes off more like a sweet puppy in many scenes than than the tragic figure of the novel.
Still Chaney does give a great and truly memorable performance as Quasimodo.
1939 version, Charles Laughton
It was mentioned before that most actors who play Quasimodo follow another actor’s portrayal of the role. That would be Charles Laughton's version in the 1939 version.
Laughton was the first notable Quasimodo that gave the role a sympathetic tone. This gave him real pathos and you could feel every emotion Laughton gave through the make-up.
Laughton does have the same level of physicality that Chaney, Patinkin or even the Disney version exhibits but he more than makes up for it with his mannerism and the over-all sense of style he brings to the to the role.
Also the ending is far more tragic than just him simply dying which is pretty much the ending for Quasimodo in the book though the execution is vastly different in many the movies to the novel.
In the 1939 version, Quasimodo lives but unlike the Disney version where he is accepted by society and has new friends, in the 1939 version is left all alone regretting that he even has emotions.
It's a very sad ending to the movie.