Advertisements

Disney Songs Poll Results! #15 – “God Help the Outcasts”

You will hear two different voices for Esmerelda in the above video, but that wasn’t always the intent. It was believed that the streetwise gypsy dancer should have a less dainty voice than many of the famous Disney female leads, so they invited Demi Moore to come in and work with songwriters Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz on the required vocals. Unfortunately, they found after several attempts that she was not feeling like she could accomplish the singing appropriately. Moore herself asked them to find someone else, but was retained to voice the speaking parts for the role.

The-Hunchback-of-Notre-Dame-disney-11092950-960-536

In need of a new singing voice for Esmerelda, Disney found Heidi Mollenhauer, who was performing in cabaret shows in New York City at the time. I couldn’t find any information about how that happened, so I’m going to assume that Menken and Schwatrz wandered into the place where Mollenhauer was singing and after tying a few on decided that hiring somebody working there would be appropriate for the street performer Esmerelda is. It sounds like the sort of story that launches a star, but strangely enough Hunchback of Notre Dame is thus far Mollenhauer’s only film credit. She also sports no TV or theatre credits. Anybody want to research a “What the Hell Happened to Heidi Mollenhauer” article?

No? Well, if you change your mind, this is what she looked like-

Heidi_Mollenhauer

…but she’s also been seen with long blonde hair, so maybe she doesn’t actually want to be found.

Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is perhaps the most frustratingly imperfect animated film in their entire library, with gloriously beautiful and thrilling scenes and songs giving way to face-palming elements that smell like decisions made by committees full of suits. “God Help the Outcasts” is just exhibit A in the ‘genius’ column for the film.

 

Advertisements

Posted on June 7, 2015, in Betrayed, Movies, Music, poll and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. daffystardust

    I debated with myself about whether to include that picture of the singer who voiced Esmerelda, but I reasoned that it was okay if included below the break. Unfortunately no matter what I did, Facebook insisted on making that the featured image for posting the article there (Even when I removed it totally from the article!!!) They really must love faces! That is why if you came to today’s article through FB you might have noticed that I linked to the blog’s home page instead. There was just something wrong to me about spreading that photo around as the primary image.

    Like

    • FB will sometimes do some odd things. For a while, it posted the Linda Fiorentino image as the default image for any article that didn’t have one. Linda still shows up every now and then which can be really out of place. It also tends to use whichever picture was posted or uploaded most recently. So if I am trying to get a certain image on the FB feed, I will make sure it is the last one I upload. It works differently depending on how the image posts to FB. Usually if I go directly to FB from WP, it will use the featured image. However, a tweet that posts to FB will be the most recent image more often than not.

      Like

  2. Yesterday, I talked about validity. This is where we’re just throwing the concept of validity right out the window. Pretty song. Has no business on a list of the top Disney songs. Especially being ranked this highly.

    Apparently, someone out there really cares about Hunchback. I agree that it is frustratingly uneven. Hunchback was the first Disney animated feature that was more or less Katzenberg free. The animation department, flush with confidence from the success of The Lion King, decided to go crazy and do all the things Katz wouldn’t let them do. That included giving Kevin Kline’s character facial hair which was a no-no under Katzenberg. But this is a case where their ambition got the better of them. The Hunchback of Notre Dame just isn’t a good fit. There’s some impressive work on display in the movie, but it was all for naught. The project was doomed to fail at the concept phase.

    There’s a lot of Disney animated movies out there. I can’t be expected to care about them all. I’m not going to be frustrated by the flaws of Hunchback. I’m just passionately indifferent about it. It’s the cousin no one talks about. We have a lot of those in the Disney library. Just let them go. You’ll be happier.

    Like

    • daffystardust

      I’m genuinely surprised by the love the Hunchback songs received in voting. While I like them and included them I had pretty much assumed that a couple of the other songs from group 4 would nudge them out and that if one did appear it would be lower than this. I don’t want to completely give up the coming results, but if you look back at the songs included in group 4 you might be able to figure out which 4 I thought would truly compete for spots on the list.

      Like

      • While we were talking yesterday, I went back to the original post to refresh my memory. Unfortunately since the survey was closed, the original list is no longer displayed.

        The results are what they are. Hopefully this is very satisfying for the people who cared enough to rank the songs this way. I am glad for the participation although I wish they would join the conversation. It’s pretty much you, me, RB and Annie. I don’t think any of us pushed Hunchback into the top 15. Or potentially higher still.

        Like

        • daffystardust

          There was a lot of participation out of Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington state, so maybe that’s where the extreme Hunchback love comes from. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t rank it high when I voted, but I sure didn’t have it at #1 on my list.

          I do think that assuming the movie is not popular with Disney fans just because Disney the company has stopped promoting it in any way is not completely on the mark. I see plenty of on line love for Hunchback that does not match its complete absence from the parks and marketing once the musical show left the Studios park.

          Like

        • No I realize it is loved deeply by a small, vocal minority. I would argue that the love is misplaced. I suspect the reason these niche groups love movies like Hunchback as passionately as they do (and tend to aggressively shout their love from the rooftops) is to compensate for the fact that everyone else – Disney included – has decided to move on and just pretend their favorite movie never happened. It’s not just Hunchback this happens with. Ever get into a conversation with an Atlantis fan? Or Treasure Planet? There’s a lot of so-so Disney movies that have fallen by the wayside that some group of fans has taken up its banner and decided to march until everyone in the world recognizes their underappreciated genius. But I’d rather not. Those movies have been abandoned for good reason. There really aren’t any lost Disney masterpieces.

          Like

        • Disney fans will be divided on HOND, but I really like it (even though I haven’t seen it for many years). And no, I really don’t think that it’s just “so-so”. They really took a risk with this one, considering how disturbing the source material seems to be, and many people still think that it paid off. And if you ask The Unshaved Mouse, who has reviewed every movie in the Disney canon on his blog, he would say that this is his favorite out of them all (and only “The Lion King” got a higher ranking by him).

          Like

        • I think I’ve already expressed my view that The Lion King is highly over-rated. So I don’t think Mr. Shaved Mouse and I are too likely to agree on rankings given his top two. I really don’t see how anyone can possibly rank HOND as their second favorite Disney movie of all times. There are so many things wrong with it. The problem is precisely that the subject matter is so dark. There’s one of two ways you can go with that. You can embrace the subject matter and make a movie that is not appropriate for young children. Or you can completely sanitize the movie so it bears no resemblance to the subject matter whatsoever. But if you’re going to do that, there’s really no point adapting that work.

          What Disney did was to go for a middle of the road approach which was doomed to fail. They slapped on a happy ending and added some goofy sidekicks and hoped that would make the dark material that remained palatable to their core audience. The odds against that working are astronomical. I suppose you can admire Disney for having the courage to try. But I don’t really give them much credit for that. They should have known that they were setting themselves up for failure.

          There’s a contingent of self-professed Disney fans who are always pushing for Disney to be darker and edgier. I don’t get this mentality. If you like Disney, why are you always trying to get it to be something else. Yes, Disney has traditionally had some dark and scary bite. But there’s a line and every time Disney walks too close to it they get burned. Hunchback completely ignored that line and paid the price.

          Like

        • I’m not saying that Disney has to be darker and edgier. Of course not, since they have children as their target audience. But I do appreciate that they some times try to do something more risky. And for me and to many other people, “Hunchback of Notre-Dame” did succeed with this. Sure, we all know that the source material is even darker than what Disney’s verison is. But they still managed to get some heavy themes like murder and religion and lust and racism into the story. But you’re not alone about feeling the way you do either. And even The Unshaved Mouse will agree that the gargoyles were a mistake, unless you want to believe that they only exist in Quasimodo’s imagination. Which would make the movie a bit even darker… As for the ending, it is more a bittersweet one than a happy one. Quasimodo is finally accepted by the people of Paris, but he also has to see Esmerelda end up with another man. And let’s not forget that Frollo managed to kill some people before he was done…

          Like

        • daffystardust

          I completely agree that Disney messed up by committing to doing Hunchback, but then only following through at about 75%. Even going to 90% would have made a big difference. The film as is should not be rated “G.” From a purely artistic point of view they could have easily made it a “PG” film and ended up with a masterpiece that everyone knew was not for little kids. There would have been nothing wrong with that. Of course judging by the reactions of some illiterates who took their small children to see Into the Woods, maybe including talking head interview sound bites about its dark subject matter and that it was “new” and “different” in trailers and ads would have been necessary. But all of that is secondary to me. I’m just trying to imagine how they could have completed the work of genius they started by not punking out.

          Like

        • There is no way. I sold enough tickets to R rated movies to know parents don’t pay attention. Hunchback is rated G because that was the policy at the time. If the exact same movie had been presented to the ratings board by a different studio, it would not have gotten that rating. Parents would not have paid heed either way.

          Being Disney can be a blessing and a curse. Hunchback made a boatload of money based on the Disney name. But it also meant the movie had to meet certain expectations which necessitated betraying the source material.

          Bottom line is Disney chose the wrong project. This one was a bad fit for the brand.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          I guess I just have to come right out and say that I have no sympathy for the complainers who took their children to Into the Woods. None. Zero. We can’t run our society based on the actions of the stupidest among us. If you take a kid to that movie, which was rated “PG,” you give up any right to complain about the content as far as I’m concerned.

          On the other hand, if I had been a parent with no knowledge of the original Hunchback story and taken my 4-year old to see it as-is with a “G” rating, I would have had every right to complain. I’m sure they did get complaints.

          I have a hard time saying I wish they hadn’t made it at all because there are sequences from it that I love. Also, while I understand the company has to be concerned with its brand, as a film-goer I don’t care about that at all. Not even a little bit. Maybe if the project had been taken up by a different company using much of the same talent we would have gotten the final product that we should have.

          Like

        • The difference between PG and G is gossamer thin. I don’t think parents differentiate. The expectation, right or wrong, is that if a movie has the Walt Disney logo on it, it’s safe to bring your kids. That’s the reality of what Disney has to deal with. If they violate that trust, there can be heavy financial consequences down the line. It’s not an artistic choice. It’s a business decision.

          I might have a smidge of sympathy for parents who took their kids to see Into the Woods. I don’t expect them to be familiar with the musical. Disney definitely sold it to families as a family-friendly movie. Ratings are mostly meaningless. I think you have every right to complain about a PG movie that is inappropriate for kids. Especially if it has the Walt Disney logo on it as Into the Woods did. Personally, I knew better than to take my kids to it. But I don’t expect the same level of awareness among the general movie going public. Maybe because I dealt with them first hand for seven years and know where their knowledge level is.

          I don’t think it has anything to do with how we run our society. This isn’t a legislative issue. It’s about how Disney runs its business. They have to keep their brand in mind. A faithful adaptation of Into the Woods or Hunchback was out of the question for them.

          I wouldn’t wish Disney’s Hunchback into the cornfield. I saw it once. Enjoyed myself. I will likely never watch it a second time. I don’t object to its existence. But I think it was pretty obviously a misstep on the part of the company. I just don’t think they could have released a version of the movie that would have been satisfying. The parts of the movie you like are the parts that caused the movie to underperform at the box office. The gargoyles may have ruined the movie. But it could be argued they saved the day by preventing Hunchback from bombing and taking the brand with it.

          Remember, Hunchback was coming at a time when trust in the Disney brand was at a high point. After the movies of the Renaissance, Disney could do no wrong. Pocahontas made a ton of money despite the fact no one especially liked it because people were willing to blindly hand money over to Disney based on their recent performance. Pocahontas shook that confidence a little. Hunchback shook it a lot. A darker Hunchback could have had dire consequences for the future of Disney animation. Hercules continued a downward slide at the box office for Disney feature animation. But I suspect if it had opened before Hunchback tarnished the brand, it would have been a bigger hit.

          Like

        • I would have weighed in sooner but had to finish the Helen Hunt reworking, started yesterday. You’ve seemingly hit a stride where the humor is always there, and the material seems to flow. I’m sure she did have to buy a bigger mantle! Heh.
          Anyway, the G rating, to me, represents a distinct safety net. Not only are you safe taking your younger children, but if your child has a movie birthday party, you don’t have to worry that the other children’s parents are going to be mad at you. The only question that is in the adult’s mind watching a G movie is are they going to be bored out of their minds, or not. So if HOND was misrated as G when it should have been PG, then hell yes people should complain.
          After G, however, the distinction is not always sharp. I’ve seen plenty of PGs that should have been PG13, (and vice versa) or R that could have been PG13 except for a quick scene. And so on. Anything beyond G invokes parental responsibility, and the judgment has to do with the parents values, because of the variation in the film content. For example, I’ve never been too worked up about my kids hearing swear words, but have a strong aversion to violence. So I’ve never really placed my trust in the movie rating system – except that the G rating should always be that safety net.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          I don’t disagree with anything you are saying about the business end of things.

          Maybe it was because I was familiar with Into the Woods prior to its Disney production, but I did not feel like the advertisements made it look like a kids movie. The visuals looked dark and scary – more so than they actually needed to in order to present the story as they did. The creepy look of the commercials paired with a “PG” rating should have made parents of little kids think twice. The fact that they did not is their own fault and not Disney’s.

          I am not suggesting that Disney should not consider these things when they make decisions about projects. Can you remind me what happened to Touchstone? Why wouldn’t Into the Woods or a better realized version of Hunchback simply be released under a different name to avoid this kind of trouble? I imagine the answer is that slapping the Disney name on a movie automatically makes it more money, so they just default to that.

          That’s an answer that is easy to understand, but it’s not a vey satisfying one.

          Keep in mind that I’m not arguing in favor of “faithful” versions of these stories. The changes that were made to Into the Woods did not bother me at all. Hunchback really doesn’t need that many fixes to make it quite a bit better. I never expected to see Esmerelda hung to death or for Quasimodo’s skeleton to turn to dust as it is pulled from hers. I never wanted to see that. What is frustrating to me is that I think they came very close to something remarkable but they just couldn’t follow through.

          Hey! If Eric from “That ’70s Show” can fix the Star Wars prequels, maybe he can fix Hunchback!

          Like

        • That’s it exactly. The Disney name means a bigger take at the box office. And more importantly with regards to an animated movie like Hunchback, Disney wants to sell toys. The Disney Store was a massive profit machine in the mid nineties. There was one in practically every mall in the country and the Simba plushes were flying off the shelves. Disney wanted and expected that to continue to be their business model going forward. Instead, their movies became less popular after the Lion King, merchandise started sitting on shelves and Disney Stores imploded.

          As for Into the Woods, Disney actively tried to hide the fact it was a musical. Dark and spooky imagery or not, you slap that castle on it and there’s a certain expectation. Disney opened it at Christmas and promised the family a rolicking good time. You and I knew better. But Disney’s motivation was transparent. They hoped to bilk families out of a few extra bucks by mislabeling their movie.

          Also, remember that Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland were massively successful movies with creepy imagery that were targeted to families. That’s what Disney was hoping to recreate with Into the Woods.

          While the parents aren’t blameless, I hold Disney more responsible. Parents should research this stuff more than they do. But Disney set out to create and profit from misconceptions. What they did was premeditated. Look at that Jason Alexander quote about Hunchback. They were pulling the same stunt 20 years ago.

          Like

        • Here’s another one. This is Hunchback director Gary Trousdale:

          All the marketing at that time was “It’s a celebration! It’s a festival!”, and you’d go to Disneyland and they were throwing confetti around and had the gypsy parade.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          If people saw the live action Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent and thought they were kid-friendly, leading them to go see Into the Woods, but then complain about it not being appropriate for kids, I don’t know what they are thinking. AiW and Maleficent are not kid friendly at all, and I don’t see Into the Woods as much different in style or content.

          Like

        • I sort of agree with you. I’m not advocating for Alice or Maleficent. At best, those movies were flawed. Josie really wanted to see Maleficent when it came out on video. So I watched it with her. I wouldn’t call it an all ages movie, but for the most part it was acceptable. The violence was a bit much especially the removal of her wings which was pretty obviously akin to rape. But Josie wasn’t picking up on any of that.

          Into the Woods is arguably no worse… accept it is in the sense that it is more overtly about sex. We can tolerate a lot of violence in our family films but as a country we have a more Puritanical stance when it comes to sex. I forget just how much of the sex stuff made it into the final movie, but I can definitely see it making parents who were expecting Once Upon a Time The Movie uncomfortable. Alice and Maleficent hard dark imagery. But they didn’t have people being killed by giants or any of the other things parents may have objected to in Into the Woods.

          I’m pretty sure I told you my South Park Movie story. Parents ask if it is appropriate for their kids. We tell them point blank “no”. It’s rated “R”. It’s vulgar in every way; language, content. It is in no way appropriate for their kids. They parents visibly recoil as though we had punched them in the face. We gave them the wrong answer. They bought their tickets anyway. 20 minutes into the movie they come out demanding refunds.

          Those parents, I have no sympathy for. They were warned. They chose to ignore the warning. They got refunds because that’s how things work. That’s the kind of thing you’re dealing with.

          But with Disney, they are constantly trying to fool parents. So while I assign some of the blame to the parents who fall for it, I blame the company that is actively trying to be deceptive in order to make an extra buck even more.

          Incidentally, was there a massive outcry over Into the Woods? I recall a mild rumbling. Which considering how Disney intentionally mismarketed the movie – they advertised on the Disney channel during kids shows for cripes sake – I can see why parents would feel mislead.

          Like

        • I was reading a bit on some of the complaints about Into the Woods and came across another very valid point regarding the rating system. A lot of movies that formerly would have been rated G are now rated PG because the G rating is seen as a kiss of death at the box office. That serves to further blur the line between the ratings. I don’t think many parents perceive a difference between the two. This leads to the assumption that a PG Disney movie is all ages appropriate. More often than not, that will probably be true as far as most parents are concerned.

          The following movies were all rated PG:

          The LEGO Movie
          Maleficent
          Big Hero 6
          How to Train Your Dragon 2
          Mr. Peabody & Sherman
          Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
          Heaven is for Real
          Annie
          The Penguins of Madagascar

          Like

        • daffystardust

          The MPAA really doesn’t hold much water with me to begin with. As you mentioned elsewhere, horrendous violence appears to be okay, while the mere hint of sexuality gets rated harshly. The one edit the MPAA actually demanded from the makers of Hunchback was to make the fiery Esmerelda image look less naked — because that’s the disturbing part of that part of the movie.

          Like

        • Right. The MPAA is worthless.

          But then, what can parents rely on? They can’t really be expected to research every movie before their kids see it. Most parents are way too busy for that sort of thing. Disney knows that for generations, their name has served as a seal of approval. Disney counts on this. It makes them extra dough because families will go to their movies indiscriminately. The downside for Disney is they then have an obligation not to violate that trust. Because if they do, parents will stop blindly trusting them and they will make less money.

          Movie like Into the Woods and Hunchback risk that. But its almost never worth the risk. The darkness is never enough for those that like their fairy tales dark and Disney’s core audience is left with a bad taste in the their mouths.

          Something like Touchstone would be a solution. But again, money. Disney’s not going to leave money on the table if it can avoid it. More than any of the principles of their founder, $$$ is the guiding philosophy of the company.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          I heard several reports of complaints, but it just seemed so weird to me that maybe it stuck in my head more than it should have.

          Like

        • I’m reading some stuff now. There were definitely complaints. Some of them seem quite reasonable to me honestly.

          This trailer looks like a slightly creepy Disney movie but I can definitely see why a busy parent unfamiliar with the source material would think it was appropriate for younger viewers.

          It’s not all that different from Once Upon a Time which they probably watch with their kids. It’s got the Disney logo front and center. And Disney pushed this movie during their kid’s programs leading up to Christmas. Incidentally, despite the angry parents, the marketing worked. The movie was surprisingly successful.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          There are a number of online parent rating sites that indicate the content and tone of films. Common Sense Media includes not just an overall rating from the site, but allows parents and kids to write reviews and assign their own ratings. I’ve only been to that site a few times, but what I’ve read there has shown lot of variety among its users. At the least parents can find out about content of a film pretty easily there and get a number of opinions before driving their kids to the movies.

          Like

        • I’m preparing my lecture about how impossibly difficult the job of parenting is. But I’m trying not to break that out because nobody wants to hear it. I’ll just say that however hard one may think raising children is, it’s harder than that. It’s harder than what people without kids can even conceive of. I remember when Josie was a baby and we had a baby monitor. I saw sitting in the other room and as long as I could hear her breathing, everything was fine. But sometimes you couldn’t hear her breathing and your heart stopped. I quickly came to realize that on some level I would spend every minute of every day for the rest of my life worrying about the welfare of my children. Until that moment, I never actually knew what fear was. I thought I did, but I didn’t. I also used to think I was busy because I kept my schedule full. But really, I didn’t know what it meant to be busy either because outside of work, every activity I had planned was optional. Now I look back and I wish I had half the free time I had then. I realize what a carefree existence I had pre-parenthood.

          Ooops. I gave a mini lecture anyway. My point being, there are a million and one things that must be done. Infinite things to worry about. Looking up movies on parental guidance websites is an option, sure. But it’s not something most parents are even going to think of. I certainly wouldn’t. That’s why we have a ratings board. And you trust the studios to some extent not to market a movie to kids that would be inappropriate for them. Disney in particular has established their brand on exactly that trust. It’s what that castle logo means. Parents see that castle logo and the name “Walt Disney” on a PG-rated movie and that’s as close to an “all clear” as you are ever going to get.

          Truthfully, if I was unfamiliar with the play, I wouldn’t think twice about taking my girls to a PG-rated Disney movie. Would never cross my mind. But I am familiar with the play so it never crossed my mind to take them. I’m actually surprised the movie – even with the cuts that were made- got away with a PG rating. I suspect if the same movie were submitted to the MPAA with the Touchstone brand, it probably would have been rated PG-13 instead.

          Yes, the parents who took their young kids to see Into the Woods and were shocked by the content should have done a little more research. I assign them 1/4 of the blame. I also assign 1/4 of the blame to the MPAA which was ineffective as always. But I’m assigning 50% of the blame to Disney who decided it was worth spending some of their accumulated goodwill to make a little extra money on families last Christmas. Shame on them.

          Like

        • daffystardust

          I hope you don’t think I meant that “That’s the least a parent could do.” I meant that if the parent went to a site like that, then that is the minimum they could expect to be provided with by the site.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It’s a useful resource I’m sure. It could have saved some folks some headaches. I do tend to be sympathetic to parents even when I have a different parenting style. It’s just a tough gig. Parents don’t need one more thing to worry about.

          I’m sure we’ll have another opportunity to flog this dead horse again in a few days. 😉

          Like

  3. Ah, “The hunchback of Notre-Dame”! Even after Disney had done their best to make the story more “family friendly”, I think it still remains one of the darker outputs in the entire canon. And I mean that in a good way, even if that means that I will wait several years before I show it to my little niece. “God help the outcasts” is a really good song too. What a shame that the singer never amounted to anything afterwards…

    Like

    • Agreed with Furienna. It’s a good song – however they found the vocalist, she has a beautiful voice. And the violin was so sweet. Never saw this movie and don’t really plan to, but the song is a pleasant enough discovery.

      Like

  4. I saw this quote from Jason Alexander when the movie was released:

    Disney would have us believe this movie’s like the Ringling Bros., for children of all ages, but I won’t be taking my four year-old.

    This is part of the problem. Disney wants to have its cake and eat it too. They want to pretend all their movies are appropriate for all ages. They foster that belief. So I don’t always blame parents for being fooled.

    Like

  5. I summarized the whole, absorbing discussion above for my 12 yo. (Yeah, she’s asleep. School isn’t over yet.) She saw Maleficient last year, not because we went to the theatre, but because that ‘s what the 6th graders in our school were shown one day. It wouldn’t have been my choice for her, but it was within the realm of OK for a sixth grader. I had no objection.
    Her reaction, on parents taking little kids to see it? “Did they not watch the trailer?” And again, even at her young age, the take is not whether it’s good/bad parenting or good/bad marketing, just that parents do have to expend some effort to reach an informed conclusion.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: