Howl’s Moving Castle: a still magical journey

Howl's Moving Castle: a still magical journey

Japanese animation director, Hayao Miyazaki, paints a delicate, yet riveting tale in his 2004 film, Howl’s Moving Castle.

A world-renowned mysterious wizard, fire demon, roaming castle, and a cursed woman, all forced to survive in a war-driven society filled with magic and fear.

Much like the rest of Miyazaki’s work, this film portrays intricate characters, stunning settings, unusual machinery and creatures, and a charmingly humorous storyline. Howl’s Moving Castle displays the ideal dream, behind every door lies multiple realities, each amazing in their own way.

Calcifer, the fire demon.

This film is a touching story about the transforming power of love and the fears of youth. Set in a fictional European coastal town, there are trams, automobiles, quaint buildings, and picturesque natural scenery.

One of our main protagonists, Sophie, was working in her mother’s hat shop downtown the day she was cursed by the Witch of the Waste, instantly transforming her from a vibrant young lady to an elderly woman. Strangely enough, she finds peace in her new role, insecurities washing away as she searches for the great wizard Howl to break her curse. Sophie stumbles upon Howl’s moving castle and finds a young boy, a fire demon named Calcifer, as well as Howl himself. Many problems ensue on her journey of self-discovery and love; Howl’s carelessness and lack of “heart,” a raging war, and threats from the Witch of the Waste.

The young apprentice, Markl, and Sophie.

While the movie is recommended for ages five and up, themes may be too gruesome for young audiences,though it deals with themes of pacifism, aging, and a love of flying. The film is adapted from a 1986 novel of the same name.  Unfortunately, Miyazaki’s adaptation focuses more on the visual effects and basic storyline, skimming over the intricacies found within the novel’s plot.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a feel-good film guaranteed to excite and warm the hearts of audiences of all ages. Visually and contextually exciting, Studio Ghibli’s films never cease to amaze, their constant creativity astounding people from all over the globe. Howl’s Moving Castle is a masterpiece in and of itself; though somewhat meshing with the Miyazaki family of films, it is its own unique work of art.

Netflix has recently started streaming 21 of Studio Ghibli’s films, including Howl’s Moving Castle.  It is also available for a fee on YouTube or streaming on HBO Max.

Howl’s castle.