The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released to theaters on June 21, 1996 by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirty-fourth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, the film is inspired by Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. While the basic structure remains, the film differs greatly from its source material. The plot centers on the Gypsy dancer, Esmeralda; Claude Frollo, a powerful and ruthless minister of justice who lusts after her; Quasimodo, the protagonist, Notre Dame’s kind-hearted but deformed bell-ringer, who adores her; and Phoebus, the chivalrous if irreverent military captain, who holds affections for her.
The movie opens in 1482 Paris with Clopin, a gypsy puppeteer, telling a group of children the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The story begins as three gypsies sneak illegally into Paris but are ambushed by a squadron of soldiers working for Judge Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice and de facto ruler of Paris. A gypsy woman attempts to flee with her baby, but Frollo catches and kills her just outside Notre Dame, intending to kill her deformed baby, but the Archdeacon appears and accuses him of murdering an innocent woman. To atone for his sin, Frollo agrees to raise the deformed child in the Cathedral as his son, naming him Quasimodo.
Twenty years later, Quasimodo has developed into a kind yet isolated young man with three gargoyles as his only company, constantly told by Frollo that he is a monster who would be rejected by the uncaring outside world. Despite these warnings, Quasimodo sneaks out of the Cathedral to attend the Feast of Fools, where he is crowned King of Fools but immediately humiliated by the crowd.