Tag Archives: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Topsy Turvy” (1996)

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I have mixed feelings about “Topsy Turvy.” While it’s a funny song to be sure, I can’t really get into it because I know what’s going to happen to Quasimodo at the end. Nevertheless, I should still look it over.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Topsy Turvy” (1996)

The song takes place during the Feast of Fools, based on a real-life yearly celebration held once a year during the Middle Ages (particularly in France). The Feast of Fools was held on around the Feast of the Circumcision (January 1st) and in fact the song lyrics even mention that the day of the feast is January 6th (“On the 6th of January”). Quasimodo has wanted to attend this event for years but of course Frollo, being the cruel man he is, won’t let him as he’s raised his ward to believe he’s nothing more than a monster who doesn’t belong among people (and letting him attend the celebration might reveal the lie). Now 20 years old, Quasimodo lets his gargoyle friends talk him into sneaking out to attend anyway just as the celebration is getting underway.

The festival starts with a seemingly solemn procession inviting all to attend:

Come one, come all
Leave your looms and milking stools, 
Coop the hens and pen the mules
Come one, come all
Close the churches and the schools 
It’s the day for breaking rules
Come and join the Feast of…FOOLS!!!

With the arrival of Clopin (the same Clopin we meet at the start of the film), the song goes from semi-serious to very silly and stays there for the rest of the song. Having never been around so many people in all his life, Quasimodo is immediately overwhelmed and unfortunately his discomfort draws the mischievous attention of Clopin (I don’t think there’s anything malicious in his behavior, he just wants to have some fun at Quasimodo’s expense).

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Once a year, we throw a party here in town
Once a year, we turn all Paris upside down
Every man’s a king and every king’s a clown 
Once again it’s Topsy Turvy Day

It’s the day the devil in us gets released (Good is bad and best is worst and west is east)
It’s the day we mock the prig and shock the priest (On the day we think the most of those with least)
Everything is topsy turvy
At the Feast of Fools

Topsy Turvy; Everything is upsy-daisy

Topsy Turvy; Everyone is acting crazy

Dross is gold and weeds are a bouquet
That’s the way on Topsy Turvy Day!

It’s while trying to get away from Clopin’s unwanted attention that Quasimodo accidentally stumbles into Esmeralda’s tent while she’s getting ready for her dance. Expecting to be reviled, Quasimodo is stunned when the beautiful gypsy simply shoos him away with a “No harm done” and a smile (and also complimenting his “mask” as she doesn’t realize that’s how he really looks).


Just before Esmeralda begins her dance, Frollo arrives in the most ominous looking carriage I’ve ever seen. Up until this point, you can almost enjoy the song but once he arrives that’s when you remember, oh yea, Quasimodo isn’t supposed to be out here, if Frollo catches him there’s going to be big trouble! But for now, Quasimodo is safely hidden and Clopin draws attention to the stage:

Come one, come all
Hurry, hurry; here’s your chance
See the mystery and romance 
Come one, come all
See the finest girl in France 
Make an entrance to entrance
Dance la Esmeralda…

I have always loved this part of the scene when Esmeralda appears to dance in her beautiful red dress. Everyone is entranced with her, especially Quasimodo, Phoebus (who answers with an enthusiastic “Yes sir!” when Frollo mutters “Look at that disgusting display) and, though he hides it well, Frollo himself (ewwwww).

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Technically the song continues after Esmeralda’s dance into the search for the new King of Fools but I’ve always regarded that scene as separate from the rest of the song (and I’ve already covered what happens in Disturbing Disney #20).

In conclusion, “Topsy Turvy” is a fun little song that serves to relax the audience before things get really twisted with the King of Fools incident. What do you think about this song? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Bells of Notre Dame” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Heaven’s Light/Hellfire” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Heaven’s Light/Hellfire” (1996)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Beginning with Pocahontas in 1995, Disney films began to slowly put twists on the traditional “happily ever after” ending. In the case of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while Quasimodo clearly has feelings for Esmeralda, she ultimately falls in love with Phoebus, the one-time captain of Frollo’s guards. Before that happens though, the idea that Quasimodo and Esmeralda might end up together is teased in “Heaven’s Light” which takes place after the bell ringer helps the beautiful gypsy escape the cathedral.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Heaven’s Light” (1996)

Under Frollo’s “instruction,” Quasimodo has grown up believing that he will never find love, that no one would ever want him. But Esmeralda has proven that to be not true, so for the first time in his life, he’s dreaming of love:

So many times out there
I’ve watched a happy pair
Of lovers walking in the night
They had a kind of glow around them
It almost looked like Heaven’s light

I knew I’d never know
That warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might
No face as hideous as my face
Was ever meant for Heaven’s light

But suddenly an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright

I dare to dream that she
Might even care for me
And as I ring these bells tonight
My cold, dark tower seems so bright
I swear it must be Heaven’s light

Thus encouraged, Quasimodo returns to ringing the bells for the evening service and the scene transitions to Frollo in his chambers at the Palace of Justice. Accompanied by the strains of the Confiteor, a penitential prayer, Frollo addresses himself to the Virgin Mary in a prayer of his own. As pure as Quasimodo’s song of love was only moments ago, Frollo’s is the complete opposite. This is the prayer of a hypocrite, one of sees the faults in everyone but not his own.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame “Hellfire” (1996)

Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti (I confess to God almighty)
Beatae Mariae semper Virgini (To blessed Mary ever Virgin)
Beato Michaeli archangelo (To the blessed archangel Michael)
Sanctis apostolis omnibus sanctis (To the holy apostles, to all the saints)

Beata Maria, You know I am a righteous man
Of my virtue I am justly proud

Beata Maria
You know I’m so much purer than
The common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd

Then tell me, Maria
Why I see her dancing there
Why her smold’ring eyes still scorch my soul

I feel her, I see her
The sun caught in her raven hair
Is blazing in me out of all control

Like fire, Hellfire, This fire in my skin
This burning, Desire, Is turning me to sin


It took me so many years to understand everything that was happening in this sequence (I can tell you as a child the subtext went completely over my head). Basically, in the midst of his prayers, Frollo can’t get over the fact that he’s physically attracted to Esmeralda (a very beautiful woman). In his mind, he’s above this kind of desire (or at least he should be) and it’s driving him insane that he feels this way. Incidentally, the animation of Esmeralda dancing in the flames nearly didn’t make it into the film, as it initially appeared that she was nude (that’s why you can clearly see the outline of her dress in the fire).

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And having acknowledged his descent into sin, Frollo is seemingly confronted by a hall full of heavenly judges in red robes. Pleading these desires aren’t his fault, the judges answer back Mea Culpa (It IS my fault). Again, we have to remember Frollo’s one weakness: above all else he fears being condemned to Hell and in his mind the blame lies squarely on Esmeralda.

Protect me, Maria
Don’t let the siren cast her spell
Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone
Destroy Esmeralda
And let her taste the fires of Hell!
Or else let her be mine and mine alone


This is one of the more twisted motivations any Disney villain has ever had. If Esmeralda can’t (or won’t) be his, he’ll destroy her. This is a messed up situation on any level and it gets even worse when a guard reports that Esmeralda has escaped the cathedral which is actually a really big deal. This means that Frollo likely sent the guard to fetch the gypsy and bring her back to his chambers to do who-knows-what to her!! Is it any wonder this is regarded as the darkest film of the Disney Renaissance?

“Hellfire” has gone down in history as the ultimate Disney Villain song and I don’t see any reason to disagree. But what do you think? Let me know your thoughts on “Heaven’s Light” and “Hellfire” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Bells of Notre Dame” (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Bells of Notre Dame” (1996)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Bells of Notre Dame” (1996)

As far as openings of a Disney movie go, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is pretty dark from the beginning, though you initially don’t think so. The song begins with Clopin gathering children to his stall to tell them the story of the mysterious bell ringer who lives in the towers of the cathedral.

Morning in Paris, the city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
To the big bells as loud as the thunder
To the little bells soft as a psalm
And some say the soul of the city’s
The toll of the bells
The bells of Notre Dame

You know things are going to be interesting though, when Clopin begins his story with “It’s a tale, a tale of a man…and a monster…” The story then flashes back twenty years to a group of gypsies who are sneaking into Paris.


Dark was the night when our tale was begun
On the docks near Notre Dame

Four frightened gypsies slid silently under
The docks near Notre Dame

But a trap had been laid for the gypsies
And they gazed up in fear and alarm
At a figure whose clutches
Were iron as much as the bells, the bells of Notre Dame

Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin,

And he saw corruption everywhere, except within

The verses here are interspersed with excerpts from the Latin mass, Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy) and Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). This is one detail that I’ve always loved about the score for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the connection to the mass, which back in the time this film was set in was a big deal in people’s daily lives.

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The story is already dark enough: the gypsies are captured and arrested for no other crime than being gypsies, but then it gets worse. A soldier notices the bundle the woman is carrying and Frollo assumes it’s stolen goods when a quick check would have revealed it’s just a baby. Instead, Frollo (the best example of a hypocrite you’ll find in any Disney film) callously demands the bundle be taken away which prompts the woman to run for her life with her baby with the strains of Dies Irae in the background. It’s a pulse-pounding sequence as the woman dodges and leaps through the snowy streets of Paris with Frollo close behind on his black horse (he’s the villain so naturally it’s a black horse).

This chase leads to one of the most shocking moments in any Disney film (so shocking that I’m still contemplating adding it to the Disturbing Disney series). First, at the steps of the cathedral, Frollo seizes the baby, causing the mother to fall back and hit her head on the stone steps, killing her instantly. Then, when Frollo realizes he’s holding a baby, one he deems a ‘monster’ because of its deformities, he spots a well in the square and rides over to drop the baby in!! Let me repeat that: the villain of the film was clearly attempting infanticide (in a Disney film) and was only stopped because the archdeacon intervened!

I love the interchange between the archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers) and Frollo. The latter obviously feels no guilt for what has happened and his callousness infuriates the priest.


Archdeacon: (singing) See there the innocent blood you have spilt
On the steps of Notre Dame
Frollo: I am guiltless. She ran, I pursued.
Archdeacon: Now you would add this child’s blood to your guilt
On the steps of Notre Dame?
Frollo:  My conscience is clear
Archdeacon: You can lie to yourself and your minions
You can claim that you haven’t a qualm
But you never can run from nor hide what you’ve done from the eyes
The very eyes of Notre Dame

And for one time in his life of power and control, 

Frollo felt a twinge of fear for his immortal soul

There’s actually a double meaning in the archdeacon’s last line. “The eyes of Notre Dame” doesn’t just refer to the eyes of the sculptures covering the cathedral. It can also refer to Our Lady, meaning the Virgin Mary (who is greatly revered in Roman Catholicism). This last portion of the song sets up Frollo’s one weakness, if you can call it that. Above all else, he fears going to Hell when he dies. That’s why he accepts the punishment of raising Quasimodo for the rest of his days (though I’m sure keeping him locked up in the bell tower was not what the archdeacon had in mind).

“The Bells of Notre Dame” provides a beautifully crafted introduction to the film, one of the best in the Disney Renaissance. What do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Disturbing Disney #20: Quasimodo is crowned ‘King of Fools’ (1996)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

It’s a trope that’s almost guaranteed to appear in any Disney film: the young hero/heroine is admonished by an authority figure NOT to do something; they do it anyway and as a result they end up in big trouble. Such is the case in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). The sweet Quasimodo is compelled to live in the bell tower of the cathedral by his reluctant guardian Frollo on the grounds that the outside world is evil and dangerous (a similar argument is used by Mother Gothel years later on Rapunzel). Quasimodo wants more than anything to go out among the people, so when the annual ‘Feast of Fools’ comes around, the bell ringer can’t take it anymore and sneaks out to join in the festivities.


From the moment I watched this film in the theater, I knew something bad was going to happen at some point. Either Quasimodo was going to get caught, locked up, or something. And when Frollo arrived in his carriage, I thought the moment was imminent. But then…nothing seemed to happen. True, Quasimodo was found out, but instead of being rejected, he’s crowned ‘King of Fools’ by the audience and paraded around the city (much to Frollo’s displeasure, though it seems he can’t do anything about it for the moment). For a brief moment, I actually believed that things were going to be okay…and then the real trouble started.

Quasimodo humiliated: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Suddenly, two guards lob tomatoes at Quasimodo, prompting the rest of the crowd to join in (I’m not sure if this is an annual thing or if this is just a case of mob mentality). So far the scene has just turned cruel; what makes it disturbing is when the crowd ties Quasimodo down to the platform when he tries to run away, spinning him around so everyone can get a good shot at him. Even the colors turn darker (starting when Quasimodo is tied down and his hump is exposed), highlighting how wrong and terrible this situation is.


As someone who suffered from a lot of bullying in school, this scene has never failed to trigger me. Quasimodo’s perspective of viewing these people who were cheering him minutes ago and are now hurting him and laughing while they do it is just heartbreaking. It gets even worse when Frollo forbids Phoebus from intervening, stating that “a lesson needs to be learned here.” I don’t know why I felt surprised at Frollo’s actions; on further consideration, it’s likely he felt the crowd’s treatment was far worse than any punishment he could have devised for Quasimodo.

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While it’s true that Esmeralda steps in to stop the abuse, the damage has already been done. The Quasimodo that stumbles back into the cathedral is broken now in a way that he wasn’t when the film started. Before, he at least had his dream of someday going out among the people, now he doesn’t even have that.

This scene is a classic example of why I started the Disturbing Disney series and it makes for a fitting entry (the 20th in the series!)

What do you think of this scene? Does it disturb you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a good day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

Disturbing Disney #19: Cinderella’s dress is destroyed (1950)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame “The Court of Miracles” (1996)

By this point in the story things are looking pretty grim for our heroes: not only does Frollo claim to know exactly where Esmeralda and the rest of the gypsies are hiding, he also plans to “attack at dawn with a thousand men.” After Frollo leaves with a knowing smile on his face, Phoebus (who has heard everything), comes out of hiding and tells Quasimodo that they need to find the Court of Miracles and Esmeralda before Frollo does.

And as it turns out, Quasimodo has a way of finding the hidden refuge in the talisman that Esmeralda gave him. It turns out it’s actually a map of Paris and a certain symbol leads them to the entrance of an old catacomb. As the pair make their way, it quickly becomes obvious that they’re being followed, though Phoebus and Quismodo don’t notice. Phoebus, who has been trying (and failing) to make light of the situation, notes that:

“speaking of trouble we should’ve run into some by now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you know, a guard…a booby trap…” *the torch is snuffed out* “Or an ambush…”


Torches blaze up and the pair are surrounded by gypsies, exactly who they were hoping to find! Unfortunately for our heroes, Clopin, their leader, isn’t interested in anything they have to say since Phoebus is still recognized as Frollo’s captain of the guard and Quasimodo is mistakenly believed to be a loyal henchman, so they must be spies! This is the start of the all too short “Court of Miracles” where Clopin and the rest of the gypsies taunt their captives with how they keep themselves safe by killing any and all intruders.

You were very clever to have found our hideaway,

unfortunately…you won’t live to tell the tale!

Maybe you’ve heard of a terrible place where the scoundrels of Paris collect in a lair,

Maybe you’ve heard of that mythical place called the Court of Miracles…

Hello! You’re There!


In a bit of a twist, it’s revealed that many of the gypsies are only pretending to be disabled. The disguises come off when they return home, hence the seeming reason why it’s call the court of “miracles” because everyone suddenly becomes normal:

The lame can walk! And the blind can see!

But the dead don’t talk! So you won’t be around to reveal what you’ve found!

We have our methods for spies and intruders, rather like hornets protecting their hive.

Here in the Court of Miracles where it’s a miracle if you get out alive!

With a loud laugh, Phoebus and Quasimodo are dragged into the Court of Miracles where they’re led to a large scaffold, to be mocked and jeered at by the rest of the gypsies before they’re executed (Djali the goat recognizes the pair and runs to get Esmeralda). Clopin is now dressed as a judge and prepares to hold a “trial” for the pair.


Justice is swift in the Court of Miracles,

I am the lawyer and judge all in one!

We like to get the trial over with quickly because it’s the sentence that’s really the fun!

Any last words? *Phoebus and Quasimodo shout through their gags* That’s what they ALL say…

Now that we’ve seen all the evidence *Puppet “Wait, I object!* Overruled! *”I object!!”* 

*QUIET!!!* *…dang…*

We find you totally innocent…which is the worst crime of all…SO YOU’RE GOING TO HANG!!

“STOP!!” And just in the nick of time, here comes Esmeralda to save our heroes’ skins! She informs the incredulous Clopin that Phoebus and Quasimodo aren’t spies, they’re friends.

“Why didn’t they say so?” Clopin sputters, not quite believing what he’s hearing.

“We DID say so!” the disgruntled pair spit back, annoyed at having come all this way only to be nearly executed for trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, the right thing turned out to be exactly what Frollo wanted them to do…which is lead him directly to the Court of Miracles…


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And that’s “The Court of Miracles” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame! It’s a short song, but one of my favorites 🙂 I always thought it was funny that Clopin was so caught up in the moment of catching more spies that he completely missed the pair telling him they weren’t spying at all but were trying to warn them! Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below.

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