Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Reconstruction’

In 1985, Philip J. Riley began doing his part in the film preservation movement with London After Midnight: A Reconstruction, a literary attempt to piece together Lon Chaney’s long lost vampire(ish) film from 1927. Three years later, he turned his sites on another Chaney classic. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is hardly a lost film, however the version with which we are familiar today is quite different from the one released in 1923. That original 35mm print was some 10 or 15 minutes longer than the 16mm copy currently available and included scenes of Quasimodo bringing Esmeralda a winged gift and Jehan’s dalliance with black magic, as well as numerous extra sequences involving Clopin. Although that footage is apparently gone, Riley did his best to recreate the original print by supplementing the heavily notated shooting script with production stills. That’s what makes The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Reconstruction historically important. What makes it fun are the numerous additional baubles, most notably the film’s original program reprinted in its entirety and a charming remembrance from Esmeralda–portrayer Patsy Ruth Miller. BearManor Media’s republication of Riley’s 1988 volume is supplemented with a new introductory note by the author that includes a lengthy excerpt from The Strongman, the autobiography of stuntman Joe Bonomo, who performed Quasimodo’s incredible acrobatic feats.

Get The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Reconstruction at Amazon.com here:
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