Released in 2004, this film written and directed by the incomparable Hayao Miyazaki, is actually based on a novel from a British writer names Dianna Wynne Jones. As with so many films from Studio Ghibli, this film went on to critical success as well as financial success. It made $190 million in Japan and $235 million worldwide. There is a US dubbed version that is available as well, but most purists will want it in the original Japanese with subtitles. Still, the casting for the US version is quite good with the likes of Christian Bale, Blythe Danner, and Billy Crystal taking roles.
Why Is Howl’s Moving Castle Worth Watching?
The best films, whether they are live action or animated, are able to provide an interesting story with interesting character while also providing thought provoking subtext. Now, anyone who is familiar with Miyazaki knows that he’s one of the masters of blending these elements together to create memorable films. In this case, he’s starting out with some great material thanks to the novel.
Sophie is an 18-year-old woman who becomes the victim of a curse from a witch she refused service to at the shop where she works. The curse turns her into a 90-year-old woman. She then sets out into the Wastes in order to find a cure for the curse. She finds a castle belonging to a wizard named Howl, and also meets the fire demon responsible for powering this magical castle. The demon promises to break the curse, but only if she is able to break his contract with the wizard. The demon doesn’t want to continue powering the castle under the order of Howl.
As with all of Miyazaki’s films, there is quite a bit more going on than just this plotline. There is also a war brewing between the nation where Sophie lives and the neighboring kingdom. The story has action, adventure, romance, and more, making it very worthy of multiple viewings. There are a number of interesting twists and turns, and if it is the first time you’ve seen the movie, it will take you into some directions you do not expect.
Of course, another one of the things that helps to make this a great film is the animation. Through the years, Studio Ghibli has always been able to create some of the best looking and interesting anime films. It also happens to have a happy ending, which is not always a given with Miyazaki’s films.