Many films that portray disabled individuals often do so in a way that enhances their stigmatization, as they paint disability in a stereotypical way that does not represent experiences in a realistic, relatable way. One such example is Disney films, which often have disabled characters, but their disabilities are often either not named, not a major part of the
characters’ growth, or presented as negative in some way.
Disney has announced that they will be releasing a remake of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ in 2024. ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ is one of the most well-known Disney films related to disability. Quasimodo, the main character, is portrayed as physically disabled. Although his disability is not named, he is shown limping, has a large hump on his back, and
has enlarged facial features.
The movie is centered around the perception of Quasimodo being a “monster” due to his appearance, which involves facial difference and kyphosis. Some audiences have expressed excitement about the promise that the film’s original composer is returning for the remake, but do we really want ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ to live up to its predecessor? The Disney live-action remake of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ seems set to follow a similar plot to the original animated film, but this is not necessarily a good thing. The animation featured several outdated and ableist stereotypes that we hope will not be written into the film. Throughout the film, Quasimodo is referred to as a foul, misshapen “creature,” a“monster,” hideous and ugly because of his deformed body, and these descriptions lead audiences to pity the disabled character.
Commenters have stated that while the summary may be familiar, Disney can make creative choices that will impact the final execution, making it fairly different than the animated version. Whether Disney chooses to change some aspects of Hunchback to avoid reinforcing the ableist stereotypes that appeared in the animation is yet to be seen. Considering the film’s original plot, it is hard to imagine how the live-action remake will positively portray disability, but we are hopeful. Maybe the beautiful Esmeralda will fall in love with Quasimodo and not the able-bodied gallant war veteran this time.