Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame has risen in popularity after the titular cathedral's fire. Originally titled Notre Dame de Paris, it wasn’t until 1833 when author Victor Hugo’s tale about the famous Parisian cathedral and its hunchbacked bell ringer Quasimodo was translated into English, officially becoming The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Since then, the character of Quasimodo and his devotion to its protagonist Esmeralda has made The Hunchback of Notre Dame one of the most widely known tales of all time. Oddly enough, however, Quasimodo’s difficult life and the subsequent care that Esmeralda showed for him were not at the forefront of Hugo’s intent when he wrote the novel. Instead, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was actually written to renew interest and respect for French architecture, particularly the enormous Notre Dame cathedral, which Hugo felt was at risk of being forever altered by newer architectural styles. Since its initial release, the book has gone on to spawn a host of adaptations, though perhaps one of the best known is Disney’s 1996 animated take.
With news of the tragic fire that destroyed much of the 856-year-old Notre Dame cathedral still pouring in, the world’s eyes have been on Paris and what remains of the ancient structure. Perhaps as a means of coping with the devastation, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is currently the most popular streamed content in the world on major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and DirecTV. The news comes to us courtesy of KNNP-TV (via CBR), who reveal that Disney’s animated hit is now experiencing an increase of 306 percent in streaming.
Largely considered to be one of Disney’s darker animated adaptations, The Hunchback of Notre Dame differed substantially from Hugo’s novel, with the main focus of the film being that of Quasimodo and his struggle to have the world see him as the kind and loving person that he is. The cathedral still plays a significant role in Disney’s retelling, with three of the story’s characters (and friends of Quasimodo) being gargoyles that live in the beautiful Gothic structure. The film was the highest-grossing release of 1996 and was nominated for an Oscar for its original score, yet to date it doesn’t get the same degree of recognition that other Disney favorites from that era such as Aladdin, The Lion King or The Little Mermaid continue to have. Given this recent upsurge in the film’s popularity, however, as well as a planned live-action remake, The Hunchback of Notre Dame could take on new significance.
As officials continue to take stock of what was lost and what can be replaced at the real Notre Dame cathedral, people around the world are left only with footage of a beautiful historic structure reduced to rubble. Perhaps then, it makes sense why so many would wish to recall the cathedral in a happier light. The Hunchback of Notre Dame may not be the answer to this horrendous Parisian fire, but clearly it provides some form of comfort and joy during what's a difficult time for many.