Sunday, September 20, 2015

Disney and Faith: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

There is a scene in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) set inside the titular French cathedral, in which the gypsy woman Esmerelda (voiced by Heidi Mollenhauer) sings:

I don't know if You would listen
To a gypsie's prayer....

God help the outcasts
Hungry from birth
Show them the mercy
They don't find on earth
God help my people
We look to You still
God help the outcasts
Or nobody will.”

These are very Christian words, from the Hollywood studio which at the time was being boycotted by some large Christian groups in America, including the Southern Baptist Association, for the supposedly negative values the company espoused. Was this song part of a plan to bring back large sub-demographics of the American nation back to Disney movies?

Whatever the motive behind these lyrics in Hunchback, on the surface they seem quite authentically Christian.

Photo Credit:

The pious parishioners pray in the same scene:

I ask for wealth
I ask for fame
I ask for glory to shine on my name
I ask for love I can possess
I ask for God and His angels to bless me”

The writers of this song paint an accurate picture of wrong motives in prayer and worship. These characters are self-interested, and greedy for wealth and fame. What a truth that we still need to experience now, 20 years after the movie was released. There is a reason that Christians have had the label of “hypocrite” - some of us have been hypocrites! But every time a follower of Christ is genuinely kind, helpful and loving, this can change someone's perception of Christians – and Christ.