I’ve always been an avid fan of the concept of “Fan Theories”. After all, everyone has made a fan theory even if they haven’t told anyone about it or wrote it down. Because whenever you watch something you really enjoy or play a game you really like, you start to think about the lore or concepts behind that series. Everyone likes to think about what makes a particular series tick. In some cases, fan theories can explain away plot holes or even add to the viewing experience. While I’m not going to turn this into a fan theory blog, I had thought up a pretty unique fan theory on one of my favorite films: Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
In this film, we are introduced to the character of Clopin. Clopin is a gypsy puppeteer and performer and is the first character we see in the movie. In fact, the entire movie is a story he’s telling to children. However, when you look at it as a story that’s being told some things just don’t add up. Which made me think about something: Is Clopin lying to us? Is the story a tall tale, or an exaggerated version of the truth? Well, let’s look at some of the oddities that Clopin tells us in the film.
Clopin Knows Things That He Should Not
In the film, Clopin knows a lot of things especially for events that he wasn’t present for. For example, the introduction to the film has Frollo murdering a gypsy woman and attempts to kill a baby as well due to it’s ugliness (Did I mention this movie is for kids?) Before he can murder the child, a priest runs in and makes Frollo responsible for the child due to his action. Now, how could Clopin possibly know all this? One could make the argument that the priest told them, but we never really saw Clopin interacting with the priest at all during film. On top of that, the Archdeacon wasn’t present during the pursuit of the Gypsy so he wouldn’t have known the scenes that lead up to it. Sure, Frollo says that he chased her down because she ran away, but how would the Archdeacon have found out about the boat or the fact that Gypsies we’re trying to make it into town without being seen?
It’s not like Frollo told the Archdeacon about this, unless it was down off-screen. Even if that was the case, there are still things Clopin should not know. The biggest thing is Frollo’s Hellfire scene. When he sings this song, he’s completely alone. Sure, a guard bursts in halfway through the song but I doubt he knew what was actually going on in the room. After Frollo signs about his lust for Esmerelda, the scene cuts to him the next day telling Phoebus that he had “A bit of trouble with the fireplace”. Frollo tells nobody about the events, so how could Clopin possibly know what Frollo was singing about? It’s entirely possible that Clopin added the scene in as an explanation to why Frollo was so lustful towards Esmerelda.
An oddity of the film many people point out are the Gargoyles. One might think that the Gargoyles are Quasimodo’s imaginary friends, which is what the film leads you to believe. However, they are shown interacting with animals such as the goat even when Quasimodo isn’t present. On top of that, they actually join in the final battle despite not supposedly being real. So, are they real or not? This isn’t one of the Disney films where magic exists, there is no magic in this film aside from slights of hand or illusions.
The most likely explanation is that Clopin made the Gargoyles up. If he was going to relate this story to children, he’d need to have side-characters that relate to Quasimodo in some way. This is exactly what the Gargoyles did, acting as Quasimodo’s conscience in a way. Clopin most like weaved the Gargoyles into the tale and had them act as both illusions and as real beings. Having creatures that are unnatural or magic in nature is a way to get kids interested in a story.
Clopin The Killer
One of the cardinal ways to not tell a story is to not make yourself into a murderer or a person of negative intent. I recall an author who wrote a book about a murder that ended up being remarkably similar to a real-life murder. So much so in fact that it turns out he was the murderer as events in the story were exactly the same as the murder and that the author did have ties to the person who was murdered in real-life. I bring this up, because in Clopin’s story he attempts to murder both the protagonists by hanging while believing them to be spies.
Clopin’s song seems to insinuate that this isn’t the first time he’s murdered someone. He’s seen playing with skulls and said things like “Here in the Court Of Miracles where it’s a miracle if you get out alive!” A story you tell to children or adults should not feature yourself in the act of attempted murder. If what he’s telling is real, than the guards could have easily searched the Court Of Miracles for evidence of fowl play. Especially because the Court Of Miracles is found by the guards halfway through the movie. Telling a story that is based off truths such as that could get you thrown in prison for life.
However, if the story was falsified then Clopin wouldn’t actually be in jeopardy. Clopin could have said that he had a tendency to put trespassers to the noose, but if it turned out to be false then the guards wouldn’t have reason to arrest him. If the guards knew it was a harmless story, they would let him continue to spread the story without repercussions.
So, now that we’ve seen all the evidence, what’s the verdict? Well, it’s entirely possible that Clopin is telling a tall tale or altering parts of the story to make it more entertaining. In fact, if one realyl thinks about it Clopin could be the personification of Disney itself in the film. Taking a well-established and famous story and putting a spin on it to make it more suitable for children while still retaining a lot of thematic and dark elements. Then again, maybe this stuff did all really happen. Maybe someone was watching Frollo’s room while he sung Hellfire, maybe Clopin really did put people to the noose even if they weren’t entirely guilty. Who’s to say? Telling a story to someone back in the 1400s isn’t the same as it was today. Their was no video cameras or photography devices back then. Clopin’s version of the story could be factual the events of the film or be a retelling. It’s something that I don’t think Disney itself would address, as most giant organizations tend not to go in specifics on fan theories.