Victor Hugo, who is beyond compare when it comes to detailing the grimy, destitution of the human condition, wrote a much darker story than Hallmark chose to put to film, though. John Gay did the teleplay for this version, and if you’re at all familiar with made for TV movies back when they were good, he did nearly all of them. The popular Dial M for Murder (1981) and the absolute best versions of both Les Miserables (1978, TV) and A Tale of Two Cities (TV, 1980) were just a few of them. He also wrote screenplays, including The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and No Way to Treat a Lady (1968). Michael Tuchner, who also worked mainly with TV, directed.
In an act of selfless kindness, Esmerelda approaches the bound Quasidmodo and offers him water when no one else dared, creating yet another admirer for herself.
Unable to put aside his physical need for the gypsy woman, the Archdeacon chooses to hand her over as a witch.
This movie is all about the set. It could have been made on any Renaissance Faire site throughout the world, with faire participants as extras, but that is what made it feel so authentic. What better place to find medieval/renaissance authenticity Nazis than at Renaissance Faires and SCA groups.
The movie lacks the tension and horror of the earliest versions of the film from the ‘30s and 40s, and is played more as a romance, but the real focal point is the small sections of set that make the movie stand out among other made-for-TV nonsense. Effort was made in costuming Paris of the period, although there was a little bit of reliance on the generic “medieval man” costume like you would find at costume shops.
The monks and the band of thieves seemed most authentic. The only downside to this was that Leslie-Anne Down stuck out to me like a sore thumb, proclaiming that she was a woman of the 80s. The hair bugged me a little on her, but mostly I think it was the makeup. I always applaud actresses who go for less-is-more in historical pieces where make-up is concerned. This was not one of those times. Every other woman in the movie looked like a woman. Leslie-Anne Down looked like a walking Mary Kay billboard. I don’t think I ever once saw her, only slashes of blush and lipstick walking down the street on a pair of legs.