Imagine in childhood, being raised to love classic Disney movies and then at the age of eight, not being allowed to see one of Disney’s most moving animated films before the year 2000.
In the summer of 1996, Disney released their rendition of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.1 I didn’t question my parents; I just did as they wished, agreeing to obey their request to not see that movie, nor ask to see it.
As time went by, I had only begun to understand why my parents asked me not to watch it. I made a small, visual connection between the theatrical preview of the movie and one of my dearest family members – my Grandmother, Florence Ruth Summers Kofford. She was born in 1908 and later had a case of polio that affected her spine from when she was very young.
I never saw her as any different from anyone else I knew. I didn’t see her as disabled either. I saw that she looked different, but I also knew of her unconditional love for my family and me. This gave me no reason to see her as anything less than a normal loving grandmother. She taught, took care of, and loved her entire family.
...As I think back on my memories of her and the few stories I knew about her past, I guessed that she was an oppressed woman for the way she looked and because she didn’t move the same way as others did. I deduced that she may have been humiliated at times, that others may have mocked her, whether it was verbal abuse, sideways glances or any other demeaning actions.
Eighty-eight years after my grandmother’s birth, and eight years after my own, was when I saw the first sign of someone who looked a bit similar to my grandmother in the media, and it was one of the few Disney movies I was not allowed to watch. Approximately fourteen years later, and twelve years after her death, I made the distinct connection between my parent’s banned movie and my grandmother. Which brings me to Quasimodo, the protagonist of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, specifically the film as released by Disney.
IMDb. (2011). The hunchback of notre dame (1996). Retrieved February 6, 2011, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116583/