In 1996, Disney brought Victor Hugo’s famous novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame to the big screen, with an animated feature by the same name. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (the pair behind Beauty and the Beast), with music by Alan Menken, the gorgeous film has always held a special place in our hearts. For that very reason, we’ve happily indulged in researching the finer details included in the film, as well as how it got made. To celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, we’ve rounded up nine facts you might not have known about the film. Enjoy!
1. Recording sessions were videotaped.
To help incorporate the mannerisms of the actors portraying the film’s characters, recording sessions were caught on film. Believe it or not, this is a common practice when it comes to animated films. For example: The production of older movies like Cinderella and Peter Pan involved a live-action performance of the film.
2. All character animation was done by hand.
Despite the fact that a lot of background animation (including rain, sets, and more) was constructed on a computer, all of the character animation for the film was done by hand, frame-by-frame.
3. Hunchback was the first animated feature to be produced at the new Feature Animation Building at Walt Disney Studios.
Other films in production during the time include The Lion King and Pocahontas.
4. Part of the film was completed in Paris.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a huge undertaking, and actually included ten minutes of footage created by about 100 artists and animators at the Disney Animation Studio in Paris. Because it’s set in Paris, this added an extra layer of authenticity to the architecture and landscape seen in the movie.
5. It took over 620 people to complete the film.
It took 620 artists, and production staff (etc.), 72,000 pencils, 1 million sheets of animation paper, and 1.2 million work hours to finish the movie.
6. The artist behind Quasimodo was responsible for two other famous Disney characters.
It turns out that James Baxter, the supervising animator and character designer behind Quasimodo, was quite a talented guy. He was also in charge of designing Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) and Rafiki (from The Lion King). Aha! So this explains why …
7. Belle makes a brief appearance in the film.
If you look in the lower right corner of the image above, you’ll notice Belle walking through the streets with a book in her hand! Considering Beauty and the Beast also takes place in France, her inclusion in Hunchback makes sense and is the perfect easter egg!
8. CGI was used to create huge crowds.
Like the famous stampede scene in The Lion King, Disney filmmakers used CGI to effectively create the bustling crowd seen in streets of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. After a basic character was created, it was then dressed up in a couple of different outfits and then repeated over and over. This is the first time active groups of that magnitude really appeared in a Disney animated feature.
9. Filmmakers traveled to London to record some of the music.
To further add to the mood and atmosphere, Don Hahn (producer), Gary Trousdale, and Kirk Wise traveled to London with Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, to record with the English National Opera Company, accompanied by a 100-year-old pipe organ.
Let us know which fact was your favorite in the comments!