Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Notre-Dame de Paris (1999) (TV)

With the huge success of such grand musicals as LES MISERABLES and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, it was perhaps obvious that sooner or later Victor Hugo's classic of love and fate, NOTRE DAME DE PARIS (AKA "The Hunchback of Notre Dame") would also get the musical treatment. Disney had already done it before as an animated film, but this time, the tragic story would be presented as a big operatic musical production. The end result would be somewhat mixed as NOTRE DAME DE PARIS became a theatrical box-office hit in both France and Canada, while underwhelming British and American audiences. (Part of this could be blamed on an English translation that proved to be both repetitive and banal.)

This DVD of NOTRE DAME DE PARIS presents the production in its original French with the option to access other language sub-titles, including English. There is also a 15 minute documentary covering the making of the musical. NOTRE DAME DE PARIS is indeed a sprawling production on a grand scale. It tells the story of the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda and of the three men who are enthralled by her: the soldier Phoebus, the priest Frollo, and Notre Dame's hunchbacked bell ringer, Quasimodo. When Esmeralda is accused of a crime which she did not commit, Quasimodo rescues and shelters her in the sanctuary of Notre Dame. However, things fall apart with tragic results.

Garou does a wonderful job of capturing the pain and humanity of Quasimodo. With his plaintive gravelly voice, his is a touching performance. Helen Segara makes for a wonderfully beautiful, if somewhat distracted, Esmeralda. Daniel Lavoie is appropriately tortured as the nasty Frollo, while Patrick Fiori is solid as the shallow Phoebus. Julie Zenatti makes the usually minor role of Pheobus' fiancée an effectively strong one, while Bruno Pelletier keeps things united as a poet/narrator. The costumes, which basically suggest the story's medieval timeframe, are only partially successful in that some of the modern touches are far too jarring for the story. The choreography also suffers since some of the numbers become far too sprawling and unfocused. There are wonderful touches throughout, however, including the sobering heart-felt finale which is true to the novel. (Something that most filmed versions of this classic tend to avoid.)

Despite its flaws, NOTRE DAME DE PARIS is definitely a show that respects its source material. As a result, it deserves attention and is definitely worth a recommendation.

IMDB link
Notre Dame de Paris [XviD - Fra Mp3 - Subs ENG FRA SPA GER]
Torrent: here

Notre Dame De Paris

Bruno Pelletier - Le Temps des Cathedrales


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