Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Original and Limited Edition Art (1996)
In 1482 Paris, Quasimodo, a disfigured man, lives only to ring the bells of the cathedral of Notre Dame. Alone except for three animate gargoyles (Victor, Hugo, and Laverne), Quasimodo is forbidden from ever leaving the bell-tower by his life-long guardian, the Minister of Justice, Claude Frollo. Frollo, a highly religious man who detests "impure" commoners, had adopted the infant Quasimodo as a reluctant repentence for killing his mother, a gypsy he falsely accused of theft. With Paris's annual Festival of Fools underway, the gargoyles encourage Quasimodo to leave the bell-tower in order to attend. Meanwhile, Frollo appoints a new Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, and the two go to oversee the festivities. Quasimodo is eventually revealed, and the crowd crowns him King of Fools for having the ugliest face in all Paris. Soon afterwards, however, Frollo's guards incite a riot and Quasimodo is tortured. The gypsy dancer Esmeralda, who had just finished a performance, reappears to help Quasimodo, even though Frollo forbids it. Because of her defiance, Frollo orders Esmeralda arrested, but she manages to escape his soldiers, and is marked as a fugitive. Esmeralda seeks refuge in Notre Dame, where she is confronted by Phoebus. She initially acts hostile towards him, but Phoebus reveals he is unlike the other soldiers, and the two begin developing a romance. When Frollo arrives unexpectedly, Phoebus claims sanctuary for Esmeralda in an attempt to save her. However, the plan backfires, and Frollo surrounds the cathedral with his men, effectively trapping Esmeralda inside. Here, she meets with Quasimodo again. The two form a friendship, and he helps her escape. Quasimodo discovers he has fallen in love with Esmeralda, and holds out hope that she will also love him despite his ugliness. Frollo too finds he is attracted to Esmeralda, and is convinced it is the work of black magic. He fears eternal damnation because of his feelings, and when he is alerted of Esmeralda's escape, he vows to find her and make her love him or otherwise have her executed. Frollo, in his obsessive search, begins burning down all of Paris, and nearly executes Phoebus for insubordination. Phoebus escapes on horseback, but is shot at with arrows and plummets into a river. He is saved by an onlooking Esmeralda, who takes him back to the cathedral. There, the two share a kiss, and Quasimodo, having just been convinced by the gargoyles that Esmeralda truly does love him, is heartbroken. Frollo arrives unexpectedly; Esmeralda makes a quick escape and Phoebus is hidden. Frollo reveals to Quasimodo that he knows the location the gypsy hideout, the Court of Miracles, and announces a plan of attack. Phoebus and Quasimodo journey to the hideaway (using a map hidden in a charm Esmeralda had given Quasimodo before), and are nearly hanged by Clopin, the king of the gypsies, who had mistaken them for spies. Esmeralda stops the operation and Phoebus warns of the impending attack. Almost instantly, however, Frollo and his soldiers arrive and arrest everyone. He was bluffing, and had followed Quasimodo to the Court of Miracles. The next day, Frollo prepares to burn Esmeralda at the stake. Quasimodo, chained to the bell-tower, has given up all hope. Frollo offers Esmeralda his love in exchange for her freedom, but she refuses, and the execution commences. Seeing this, Quasimodo becomes angry and breaks free. He heroically swoops down and retrieves Esmeralda, taking her back to the cathedral and claiming sanctuary for her. Frollo, however, breaks into the cathedral just as his prisoners begin to break free and revolt. Upstairs, he finds Quasimodo crying over Esmeralda, who is apparently dead. Frollo attempts to stab Quasimodo, but he retaliates and overpowers him. Suddenly, Esmeralda awakes and Quasimodo runs off with her onto the cathedral's balconies, with Frollo pursuing, sword in hand. In the ensuing fight, Frollo finally reveals to Quasimodo that he had killed his mother, and in one last attempt to kill Esmeralda, says "And he shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!" but falls from the cathedral to his death. Later, Quasimodo comes to accept that Esmeralda and Phoebus love each other. With Esmeralda's help, he reluctantly emerges from the cathedral, and is finally accepted into society.
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