Howl's Moving Castle

2004 / DVD

SF elements

wicked witches


[DVD cover]

Hayao Miyazaki's animated film is based on Diana Wynne Jones' novel of the same name . I haven't yet read the book, so I'm reviewing the film on its own merits (I am given to understand there are some major plot differences from the book).

Sophie Hatter's boring life as a hat-maker is turned upside down when she is saved from harassing soldiers by the handsome wizard Howl, then cursed by the Wicked Witch of the West (sorry, of the Waste ) and turned into a 90-year-old crone. So she sets off to find Howl's magical moving castle, but that's only the beginning of her adventures, as Howl fights his own curse, and strives to end the war devastating his and Sophie's countries.

This is beautifully imagined. The Japanese anime influence is there mostly in the characters' large eyes, and the androgynous beauty of Howl. The steam-punk world of Sophie's home city and its enormous fantastical war machines, contrasts nicely with the bleak wasteland where the castle roams. The plot is a little jerky in places (and the true identity of the scarecrow is obvious), but this just adds to the fantastical charm. Definitely worth watching.

Rating: 3

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 25 June 2006