Howl’s Moving Castle, besides being an Excellent Middle Grade book, is also a fantastic anime movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Here’s the wiki:
I thought about trying to do some sort of scary movie for October’s movie selection, but considering that I don’t LIKE scary movies, nor gratuitous sex and violence, that really seemed to clear the playing field. Throw in that some of the movies I might have considered not being available on Prime and well, I decided to go for something that I knew I would enjoy.
Comparing this to the book, you could say both the book and the movie are animals and as such they are the same. But I’d go with saying one is a cat while the other is a dog. Both have four legs, a head, a tail, are animals and have fur. They are extremely similar. But as anyone who has ever met a cat and a dog knows, they are NOT the same, not even close. And thus it is with this.
Both the book and the anime have a character named Howl, one named Sophie, a fire demon named Calcifer and even a Wicked Witch of the Waste. But at it’s heart, the anime is an anti-war film. Miyazaki makes no bones about that with this film nor is he subtle, unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because it is really heavy handed and honestly, I found myself being distracted from the story and the beautiful art work. I hadn’t noticed it so much in earlier viewings as I was trying to pay attention to the story but this time around I just couldn’t ignore it.
The artwork is gorgeous and stands right up there with some of Studio Ghibli’s other films. Sophie’s curse wasn’t as constant as it was in the book and it was neat to see her get older or younger depending on how things were going. It was deftly done.
Just like in the book though, there is no real “enemy”. Howl redeems himself from his cowardice, the Witch of the Waste gives up Howl’s heart to save him, Madam Suliman stops the war. Miyazaki is a firm believer in the innate goodness of people and that shows quite brightly through his characters. Here’s a picture of some of the main characters, including young and old Sophie:
Mrs B did watch this with me, as it is one of the few movies we own that we’ll both watch. She enjoyed it as well as I. I almost forgot, Miyazaki’s love of black gloopy “stuff” is here in spades. Not quite as intense as in Princess Mononoke nor as scary as in Spirited Away but definitely menacing nonetheless.
We own this on dvd and it is one I’d consider upgrading to bluray for. So this film gets a thumbs up from both of us.