There is a scene in the Hunchback of Notre Dame that has haunted me since I was six. The Festival of Fools is transpiring. They are revealing the distorted faces of participants. They get to Quasimodo. Esmeralda grips his face and realizes Quasi is not wearing a mask. With his distorted face, he is crowned the King of Fools. What is a moment of excitement turns to terror as he is tied down and is pelted with rotten produce. I cried at six; because I knew it was real. People were mistreated like that in real life. I cried again tonight at twenty-six.
The crowd turns so quickly. I mean he is animalized. He cries out for mercy, but he finds none. What happens in this scene is the same type of suffering I cannot bring myself to watch in Roots, 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, American History X, Hotel Rwanda, or any film about slavery or the Holocaust or genocide. It makes me sick. It’s not entertainment, but a snapshot of human history. Real people died. While, they are honored by their stories being told. It is still a hard story to listen to.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a children’s film. It speaks to the condition of general humanity, but also of Christians. I believe in a story about a man and woman in a garden. Who make a bad decision and suffer some serious repercussions. I believe one of the repercussions is this: while humanity has the propensity for good the same propensity for evil, and are more susceptible to evil. What makes the narrative more frightening is how it’s possible to choose “good”, but still have the potential for that to be corrupted by evil. As, I watch Frollo, I am reminded of men and women (historically and currently) who have utilized religion as a vehicle to control and hurt people. Rather than to love and serve.
I dunno. I have a lot of feelings about this movie, but it is 5AM. Maybe, I’ll edit it later.