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Howl's Moving Castle
Howl's Moving Castle
Actors: Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashuin, Akihiro Miwa, RyŻnosuke Kamiki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genres: Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
PG     2006     1hr 59min

In Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated masterpiece, journey beyond imagination and enter a "breathtaking fantasy world" (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) filled with adventure, humor and heart. Sophie, a quiet girl working i...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashuin, Akihiro Miwa, RyŻnosuke Kamiki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Creators: Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Ned Lott, Rick Dempsey, Tomohiko Ishii, Diana Wynne Jones
Genres: Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Kids & Family, Fantasy, Animation, Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Animated,Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/07/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 59min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 25
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, Japanese, French, Japanese
Subtitles: English
See Also:

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Member Movie Reviews

Elizabeth X. from CATSKILL, NY
Reviewed on 5/2/2010...
I loved this movie I got it from a friend and now I wan to buy it!!! :)
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX
Reviewed on 3/31/2010...
I only have 2 words for this movie. "awesome, awesome" why twice? because it is that good.

First, it is studio Gibli, and they are known (well known) for attention to detail, this movie is no exception, fog, smoke, birds in the distance all move with grace, and seem very realistic.

The story is simply captivating. Both English and Japanese language voice talents are astounding, what only a company like Disney is known for and has made billions of dollars with. The script is outstanding, props to the writers.

This film only competes against other Gibli work for best in class, and they really stand as a class in their own, they make some of the best animes around. If you like stories about witches this is one of the very best.

Recommended highly
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rani L. (Mina) from WASHINGTON, DC
Reviewed on 12/29/2008...
Another great masterpiece of Miyazaki's. I love its story. Great animation and colors. Such a sweet film.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

A Wizard Boy Meets a Girl: Poetic Fantasy in Magical World
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"(In fact 4.5 Stars) Though 'Howl's Moving Castle' ('Hauru-no Ugoku Shiro') may not be Miyazaki's best film, it is still far more enjoyable than many other films, Japanese or American, animated or not. I for one very much enjoyed watching it, and I love the film for its interesting characters and the rich textures of the designs, especially the fantasy world itself where witchcraft and humans' mundane works can be seen side by side. And the titular six-legged castle that really walks among the wilderness is something you never see except in his films.

Miyazaki's new film is based on a book of the same title written by Diana Wynne Jones. The film's story is told from the viewpoint of a 18-year-old girl Sophie, who is working at a milliner's shop every day. But she can hear the sound of bloody battles from the distance, and it is clear that this beautiful country, where witches and wizards live among humans, is going to see another war sooner or later.

But apparently Sophie is still leading an ordianary life until her uneventful routine days are suddenly broken by one accidental meeting with wicked 'Witch of the Waste,' who turns her into an old woman with a curse. Seeking for her place to live, Sophie goes to the wilderness where, the townspeople say, a young wizard named Howl wanders. In fact, Sophie encounters Howl's Moving Castle in the foggy moutainside, and she decides to hop in. There, forbidden to talk about her curse, she starts a new life with young and handsome Howl, who speaks to her kindly like a prince, but at times acts like a spoiled child.

[MIYAZAKI'S LOVE STORY] You will be impressed with many fantastic and colorful images created by Miyazaki. You might find an anti-war message deep in the film's story, but will find the romantic relations between Sophie and Howl is the most touching and impressive part of the film. Sophie's romantic feeling towards Howl is expressed in a unique way (which I don't disclose here), and Miyazaki, as usual, is very good at drawing the character of this independent heroine. One interesting thing is, probably this is the first case in which Miyazaki attempted to show a love story in his films. And a kiss too.

I must say that not everything works in 'Howl's Moving Castle.' I haven't read the original book, but it is obvious that Miyazaki made changes. Not that I'm blaming them. But the story is sometimes told too hurriedly, and when you think something (actions or whatever) will start, it ends abruptly. Howl's character is full of contradictory traits, that's good, but his complicated personality could have been more effective and convincing with more detailed episodes about, say, his mentor magician (and politician) Madam Suliman or Witch of the Waste.

(If I am not mistaken, 'Howl's Moving Castle' is a rare case for Miyazaki who prefers to use his own stories, and this is the first time he adapts someone else's story in 15 years, last time being 'Kiki's Delivery Service. But 'Kiki's' story written by Eiko Kadono is not long -- I know, I read -- while 'Howl's' story is, I think, much longer. Maybe these facts have soemthing to do with my complaint.)

Greatly helped by Jo Hisaishi's beautiful score, 'Howl's Moving Castle' is full of imaginative power, with one strong heroine you can relate to (though she is 90-years-old), plus memorable supports including fire damon Calcifer, (not a bad guy at all), and ubiquitous Prince Turnip who always appears at the right moment. Flawed, to be sure, but enjoyable fantasy tale with a healthy amount of humor and lots of imagination.

The review above refers to the original Japanese version. I know the English version includes the voices of Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, and Billy Crystal, but as I have never seen the version, I did not talk about them. Still, as Mr. Miyazaki is not likely to approve any changes done to his films, I hope what I saw in Japan, you will see in your country."
A real "Howl"
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 07/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Not a lot of directors would be brave enough to take on a love story between a girl-turned-old-lady and a wizard missing a vital organ. But Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki tackles a new fantasy realm in in "Howl's Moving Castle" -- namely, that of fantasy dowager Diana Wynne Jones.

Sophie (Emily Mortimer) is a plain, unhappy young woman working in a milliner's shop -- lightened only slightly by a mysterious wizard who rescues her one day. But then the evil Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall) comes into the shop, and casts a spell on her, turning her into an ancient old lady (Jean Simmons). Sophie ends up wandering into the Moving Castle, a chicken-legged chaos machine, and encountering the sexy if childish wizard Howl (Christian Bale), smart-aleck fire demon Calcifur (Billy Crystal), and preteen apprentice Markl (Josh Hutcherson).

Sophie appoints herself the cleaning lady and starts whipping the castle into shape, trying to deal with Howl's temper tantrums and the war brewing all around them, and trying to cure her peculiar curse. But when she runs an errand to a castle in Howl's place, she finds that her new boss has some sinister problems of his own -- including his missing heart, and impending transformation into a monster.

Don't expect much fidelity to the novel; Miyazaki takes plenty of liberties with the story. As a result, it feels more like his story than Jones', with all the earmarks he usually has -- blobby monsters, colorful rural settings, intense anti-war messages, strange machines, and a Jules-Verne atmosphere of Victorian technology. But "Howl's Moving Castle" is very different from the others Miyazaki has done, since he kept the British flavour of the original book.

It's also different because it's a love story -- and a surprisingly un-cheesy one. In less skilled hands, having Howl say "I finally found something worth protecting. It's you" would seem inane, but Miyazaki keeps it brief and powerful. And even though Sophie looks elderly through most of the movie, Miyazaki never falls into trite observations about inner beauty. He just lets the story tell us that.

The animation is virtually flawless, from the chaotic absurdity Moving Castle to the breathtaking aerial battles with the bird-man Howl. Tiny details are everywhere, from painted ceiling beams to elaborate doorknobs. But there are also quiet, entertaining moments, such as Sophie attempting to houseclean the entire Moving Castle. Calcifur is the one sore point -- he's not done badly, but he looks vaguely artificial. I suppose a fire demon is hard to animate.

There are a few flaws, in that the story could have used a bit more fleshing out -- at times the relationships between the characters are sketchy. Not much detail, for example, is given about sorceress Suliman (Blythe Danner) and her relationship to Howl, or why she's so peeved at him. Or about the nature of Howl's increasingly dangerous magic and why he did what he did to lose his heart.

While there are the usual "howls" that the English dubbing is inferior to the original Japanese, the assorted voice actors did exceptional work in the American version. Christian Bale and Billy Crystal are the major standouts -- Crystal is funny and dry as usual, while Bale is sultry, sexy, soft-spoken and deep. Except, of course, when Howl runs around the house shrieking that his hair is ruined.

"Howl's Moving Castle" moves on a little too fast in places, but it's still a breathtaking, romantic, colorful ride. A wonderful story, told by one of the few filmmakers who could do it justice."
Trying to decode the story ...
Ken | Hong Kong | 02/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Probably many people find the story confusing. I felt the same thing when I saw it in the theater for the first time! The story seemed arbitrary and I couldn't connect the pieces together. But when I watch it again on the DVD, I realize the movie is probably about one thing: personal freedom.

Howl is a free person. He doesn't has a heart and even his home (which is usually characterized as a stable point in one's life) can move :-) He is disguised as different wizards in different counties, and when Sophie asks him how many identities he has, he said "Enough to guarantee my freedom". When Sophie confronts Suliman, she comments Howl as "selfish and cowardly and unpredictable, but he's straight as an arrow. He only wants to be free." But in Miyazaki's world, nothing is black and white. According to Suliman, Howl's power is too great for a person without heart, and he will eventually becomes a monster (some political figures come to my mind).

Sophie, on the other hand, is bounded by responsibilities. She is young, but her heart is old. She refuses the invitation from her friends and keep working at the hat shop. When her sister asks her "Are you going to spend your life in that shop?" She replies "It meant so much to papa. Besides, I'm the eldest.". Even her sister asks her to "look out for yourself".

When Sophie is turned to an old lady, it actually set her free because the good thing of being old is that one has "so little to lose" She becomes more adventurous and takes control of her life. She is very assertive as being the cleaning lady in Howl's castle and even tames Calcifer to cook her food. For Howl, his turning point comes when he refuses to move his castle anymore (I'll leave it to the reader as why he does that) By the end of movie, he regains his heart. He feels terrible because it is like "trapped under a stone". And Sophie says, "Yes, a heart is a heavy burden".

There are other wonderful things in the movie. For example, this is probably one of the few movies that tell me what it is really like to be old. But I do want to highlight the thread about personal freedom as it will help you to tie up the pieces of the story."