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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
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Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces, was best known for playing Quasimodo and the Phantom of the Opera. But the former role was clearly the most ambitious of his illustrious career, full of such longing and anguish. It's as though his entire being was consumed by this ugly outcast with a heart as big and beautiful as Notre Dame itself. And the makeup is still astonishing. The rest of this unrequited love story is pretty effective as well, with the re-creation of medieval Paris a standout for its lavishness. Like all great silent films, it delivers a poetry of life that is abstract and tangible at the same time. --Bill Desowitz --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is not the classic Disney animated version. --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
As it is, it's a disgrace.
The superior quality of this film is mostly the result of the team of Lon Chaney Sr.(Quasimodo) and the director, Wallace Worsley. There is nothing significantly dated about this film.
Its power as truly cinematic (image-based) art is still far beyond most films and nothing in the budget-obsessed Hollywood of today can touch it. Lon Chaney's incredible performance, without the aid of sound(voice)and so well captured by Worsley, is the molten core that radiates its heat and energy to everything else in the film. For me Chaney's Quasimodo is a deeper, more compelling and more truly cinematic creation than that of Charles Laughton. Chaney's Quasimodo is not just pathetic, he is truly frightening, vastly more so than Laughton's, and yet he is utterly heartbreaking. This is one of the few examples of genius captured on celluloid and it should be protected for coming generations. America needs to learn to take care of its precious little real art. This film gets 5 stars, but this recording deserves no more than 2. Nonetheless, I must still highly recommend it. I hope there is someone who cares who has the means to save this great film
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Aside from the condition of the print what really keeps this from being the "Ultimate Edition" is the score by Donald Hunsberger. Hunsberger is a fine conductor (check out his Eastman Wind Ensemble recordings) but the music he compiled is too lighthearted overall and not sombre or medieval enough to enhance what's going on during the movie especially toward the end (the compiled score used for the 1999 version was far more appropriate). A darker score like the one Ennio Morricone did for the 1912 RICHARD III would help to undercut the melodramatic elements of the story and some of the performances. Once again a score can make or break a silent film.
Lon Chaney remains a marvel as Quasimodo, fully inhabiting the character beneath the makeup and the natural speed transfer restores his performance to what it should be. The medieval sets and vast army of extras also continue to inspire awe 80+ years later. The disc comes with program reproductions, 3-D glasses for old stills, and commentary from Chaney scholar Michael F. Blake. So fans of HUNCHBACK and Chaney rush out and be sure to get this edition for your DVD collection. I just wish that someday someone with unlimited funds can really produce the ultimate edition (ala METROPOLIS, BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) that this classic deserves.
They've added over 20 minutes from any previous edition
Bad: No scratch removal.I assume they didn't have the funding for it; but as this is such an important piece of American history, it should have been done right. At least in the future, someone can load this dvd into a professional pc with scratch removal software & fix it right.
Extras include; a copy of the original programme, an interesting and informative commentary, a film of Lon Chaney visiting the set, an extract from another Chaney film, and 3D photographs taken on the set at the time, that you can view through supplied glasses ! What more could you ask?
A note for any modern Philistine types considering this purchase; this is a black and white silent film, and Lon Chaney aint gonna talk!
The two DVD versions differ in quality. I own the earlier, unrestored release by Alpha Video. This edition is the one NOT to purchase. The picture quality is grainy and snowy. The screen is also difficult to see at times, and the picture is so bright that you are looking at a white screen. True, the film is over 75 years old, but it deserves a better restoration. The more recent DVD, released by Republic Pictures, has been restored and cleaned up. The Alpha DVD price is also cheaper. To appreciate the film and Lon Chaney in full glory, purchase the restored Republic DVD and nothing else.
P.S. Ignore the retarded Disney version.
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