Disney’s 30 Day Animated Feature Challenge
Day 13: Favorite Villain Song
"Hellfire," from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). I’ve addressed before that I’m not a villain fan. I don’t have a dark side nor a weakness for “bad boys” or anything like that. However, from a writer’s standpoint and an avid bookworm, I cannot deny that a great villain can be a fascinating study. Thus, my case of the day, Judge Claude Frollo, the ominously prejudiced and devout bringer of “justice” to the medieval city of Paris. Of all of Disney’s villains, Frollo is the most complex and, in my opinion, one of the greatest of evils. Yesterday’s challenge brought about my personal favorite (Hades), but I do respect Frollo’s character, simply for being so utterly despicable and yet so convinced of his righteousness.
Which brings up the point of this entry: “Hellfire” is basically a song of sexual frustration brought to near madness, where Frollo debates with God or Maria or himself about wanting the gypsy Esmeralda, and comes to the conclusion that he may either have her or “let her taste the fires of hell” if she refuses. Unlike every other villain song, which are ego-boosters (“Gaston,” “Oh, Ratigan!”) or songs of revenge (“Be Prepared,” “Savages”) or even songs of manipulating the protagonist (“Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Friends on the Other Side,” “Mother Knows Best”), Frollo’s song is purely an anguish-filled, psychological conflict of his own issues. That’s what makes it all the more fascinating, and also adds to Frollo’s complexity of a character, which is always refreshing.
And from a musical standpoint, this song alone is FANTASTIC. The choir in the background is haunting and creepy, the melody powerful, and of course the singing is desperate, passionate, and overwhelmingly dark. And the fact that this song is back-to-back with Quasimodo’s soft piece, “Heaven’s Light,” makes it all the more effective. While other villains sing about themselves or sing of their diabolical plans, Frollo’s song of sexual desire vs holy cleanliness is by far the most shocking and yet awesome one.