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I Bet You Didn't See... Howl's Moving Castle


Howl’s Moving Castle is probably one of Studio Ghibli’s most iconic works, and probably the most recognisable Anime film. I’ll be honest though, it’s not my favourite.

Like all Anime films, it has its wonderful quirks, but also those really weird moments of the bizarre.

Howl and Sophie first meet

So, the basic story. Howl (Christian Bale) is an egotistical wizard who only likes beautiful things. Ironic really, because his castle, that moves (I bet you didn’t see that coming) is not particularly pretty. He has a reputation, which I won't go into, but

Calcifer cooking breakfast, not too willingly

Howl is bound to a fire demon can Calcifer, voiced in the English dub by Billy Crystal, who also powers the castle. In his vanity, Howl has upset the Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), who curses a young girl, Sophie, into being an old lady (young voice Emily Mortimer, older voice Jean Simmons), and she heads off to find Howl. Followed by a cursed Scarecrow, Sophie ends up turning Howl’s world around before he is summoned to war. Sophie learns the secret behind Howl's powers, his curse and his castle.

Older Sophie and her Scarecrow friend

The film is wonderfully animated, as with every Studio Ghibli feature, but I felt that the film lost a bit of direction. When Sophie goes through Howl's magic door and finds his secret, the film lost me a little. I also found the Witch of the Waste a bit of a pointless character really, apart from putting her curse of Sophie, she didn't really have much of a point to me. The race up the palace stairs mid-film was a long sequence that, while funny, seemed really bizarre. It's a good film, a great idea and the performances are really good. The English cast is really good, and a young Josh Hutcherson is introduced as Markl, Howl's assistant.

Howl and Sophie late in the film

I will have to read the novel at some point to see how similar the two are. I find that helps determine my real appreciation for a film that is an adaptation. I want to know the story behind the chicken-legged dog!

If you are new to Anime, I certainly suggest you watch Howl's Moving Castle because it is seen as one of the top pieces in the genre. You should watch it to start exploring Anime films.

Directed & Written by: Hayao Miyazaki

Based on: "Howl's Moving Castle", Novel by Diana Wynne Jones

Starring (English cast): Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Josh Hutcherson, Lauren Bacall

Released on: November 20, 2004

My Rating: 6/10

Howl's Castle, on the move.

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