10 best animated films from the Disney Renaissance

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7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Possibly one of the most underrated Disney films of this period, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released in 1996 and tells the story of Quasimodo, a man who lives in the bell towers of Notre Dame and is abused by the man he calls his father, Frollo.

One day, during the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo escapes the tower for a day of fun, only to be made a fool of by the people of Paris. But one woman, Esmeralda, sees him for the kind man that he is and whisks him away from the crowd to safety.

The tables end up turning though when Esmeralda tries to defend Quasimodo and herself against Frollo. He sends a guard named Phoebus after her. Little does he know that Phoebus sympathizes with the woman and is attracted to her. He ends up going against his orders and joins Esmeralda and Quasimodo as they hide from Frollo throughout Paris.

Together, they must defend each other and the Court of Miracles, a place Esmeralda calls home. The film ends with Esmeralda and Phoebus happy together and Quasimodo accepted by the people of Paris.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame features one of Disney’s strongest female characters. Esmeralda fights for justice, her people, and anyone she sees who needs a hand. She is an activist. There aren’t too many other women in Disney films like her.

Perhaps because it is so underrated and one of the last in this Renaissance era, there hasn’t been a remake of the film. But never say never!