Looking back at Disney’s canon of animated features that dominate the hearts and minds of fans, it’s clear one film always gets relegated to the bottom of the list. And for a reason. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the studio’s 1996 release featured memorable music and the voices of some of the biggest stars of the day (Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, and Kevin Kline, to name a few), but it was also the most adult in nature, with certain elements barely making the final cut.
The modern-day retelling of Victor Hugo’s 1831 tragic classic about Quasimodo’s longing for acceptance and love was watered down significantly for a younger audience and was released during the heyday of the Disney renaissance of the ’90. With music written and produced by the storied Alan Menken (you know, the same man responsible for the iconic music from The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, among others) the film earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the score. But it’s the film’s darker themes and messages that seem to have stuck with audiences, decades after the film’s release.
Even with a G rating from the MPAA, the film explored the more mature subject matter of religious persecution, sin, sexual desire, ableism, infanticide, Europe’s shameful history of antiziganism, and genocide, among others. All these become much more clear when watching the film back as an adult.
That said, fans of the Parisian-set animated feature don’t let that get in the way. So if you’re looking to reminisce or just want to jog your memory about all things Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up the most memorable quotes from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, a film that argues goodness always prevails over evil.
1. Frollo: “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.”
2. Phoebus: “Speaking of trouble, we should have run into some by now.”
3. Quasimodo: “SANCTUARY!”
4. Frollo: “Hellfire, dark fire, now gypsy it’s your turn. Choose me or your pyre. Be mine or you will BURN!”
5. Laverne: [pigeons landing all over] “Don’t you ever migrate?!”
6. Clopin: “We find you totally innocent, which is the worst crime of all! So you’re going to pay!”
7. Phoebus: “Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people, ransacked our city, and now he has declared war on Notre Dame herself! Will we allow it?”
8. Clopin: “Here in the Court of Miracles, it’s a miracle if you get out alive!”
9. Esmeralda: “I ask for nothing, I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I.”
10. Esmeralda: “Then, it seems we’ve crowned the wrong fool! The only fool I see here, is you! [throws jester hat at Frollo’s direction]”
11. Hugo: “What Frollo doesn’t know can’t hurt you!”
12. Quasimodo: “If I picked a day to fly, this would be it!” [nests bird in his hands]
13. 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! [points to church statues] The very eyes of Notre Dame!”
14. Quasimodo: “I’m sorry, Master. I will never disobey you again.”
15. Esmeralda: “Are you always this charming, or am I just lucky?”
16. Esmeralda [to Frollo]: “You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help.”
17. Esmeralda: [to Quasimodo, unaware it’s his actual face] “By the way, great mask!”
18. Esmeralda: “How could such a cruel man have raised someone like you?”
19. Frollo: “Oh, my dear Quasimodo, you don’t know what it’s like out there. I do. I do…”
20. Frollo: “Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth; to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts!”
21. Clopin: “It is a tale, a tale of a man, and a monster…”
22. Phoebus: “Hmm? Uh-uh. You leave town for a couple of decades and they change everything.”
23. Phoebus: [to Quasimodo, when he refuses to leave the bell tower and warn Esmeralda] “She stood up for you! You’ve got a funny way of showing gratitude. Well, I’m not gonna sit by and watch Frollo massacre innocent people. You do what you think is right.”