When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.
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A love story between an 18-year-old girl named Sophie, cursed by a witch into an old woman's body, and a magician named Howl. Under the curse, Sophie sets out to seek her fortune, which takes her to Howl's strange moving castle. In the castle, Sophie meets Howl's fire demon, named Karishifâ. Seeing that she is under a curse, the demon makes a deal with Sophie--if she breaks the contract he is under with Howl, then Karushifâ will lift the curse that Sophie is under, and she will return to her 18-year-old shape.Written by
Hayao Miyazaki: [Flying] Howl flies in a birdlike form and Sophie uses a flying contraption to escape the castle. See more »
When Sophie leaves her bedroom, her dress has turned from green to blue. However, she couldn't have changed dresses because none of them would fit her after she was transformed (wider, much shorter, etc.). See more »
The more you've seen Miyazaki's films, there is a chance you'll less likely enjoy this movie. Why so? Because you can familiarize almost every single element from his previous works in Howl, which is actually quite strange. Before Howl his films were ALWAYS unique and new, when compared with the ones he had made before. But in Howl we can (at least subconsciously) easily compare those black liquid shades chasing Howl to Spirited Away's No-face and the whole ambiance stands somewhere between Kiki and Laputa. Not good.
If you take all those before seen Miyazaki trademarks away, the entity of the movie is frankly said quite fragile; Mages used as part of the military machinery. I haven't read the book version of Howl, but for the movie part I can say, that it is a very traditional piece of Ghibli and also has a worn-out story. The original and thus powerful themes we saw in Mononoke and Spirited Away are gone now, and have been replaced with the used ones: war and love. So "unmiyazakian".
Yet I'm quite sure that I would appreciate Howl a whole lot more, if it was the first Ghibli, and above all the first Miyazaki-manufactured movie I've had ever seen. The technical asset of Howl has been substantially improved and Hisaishi's score is once again a top-notch personal performance. The usage of 3D-imaginery has been increased, but the animation is still 99% hand-made, which I naturally appreciate. The characters have variable personalities and especially Witch of the Waste had something, that this movie truly needed.
Maybe Mr. Miyazaki shouldn't have done a book adaptation in the first place, since his purely imaginative mind is meant for bigger things. Instead of "loaning" ideas from others, he should be the only source of inspiration, when preparing for his new project. I sure hope that Howl won't be Hayao Miyazaki's final depot in his long career, rather I want to see him leave the ring as a legend instead of a champion.
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