The defrocking of Frollo: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: No one expects a film version of a famous novel to be true to its origins, much less do you expect it from a Disney animation, but I have noticed a very odd anachronism, occurring in the earlier film versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and repeated in the Disney version.

In Victor Hugo's Notre Dame, the wicked Claude Frollo is a priest, the archdeacon of the Cathedral. When the Lon Chaney and Charles Laughton film versions of the book were made there was, I believe, a set of strange rules in operation, one of which was that religious personages must not be shown in a bad light. For this reason Frollo became a judge, which makes complete nonsense of the story, since in medieval times a layman would have no authority in the Cathedral.

A film made in 1957 with Tony Quinn gave Claude Frollo his correct profession, and also kept the novel's tragic ending, which the other films avoid. Strange that the animated version has followed the 1923 and 1939 film versions, rather than the 1957 one - or the book.


Colchester, Essex