September 24, 2005
Horse 406 - Howl's Moving Castle
Studio Ghibli has again outdone themselves. Somehow they've convinced the great Hayao Miyazaki to come out retirement, but then they've managed to get him to write the screenplay and do the direction for Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
The book which is about 20 years old follows the story of young Sophie Hatter, a bookworm, the eldest of three daughters, a girl doomed to an uninteresting life as a hat maker. Sophie resigns herself to her boring fate, but fate has other plans for her. Cursed by the Witch of the Waste with the body of a 90-year-old woman, she finds her way to the moving castle inhabited by the wizard Howl, said by all to eat the souls of young girls. Howl has been cursed by the Witch as well, and is seeking the love of young girl to help him break the curse.
Perhaps it's under the influence of Disney that a Japanese production house should make a film adaptation of a story from the west, but there is no way that this is anything other than Miyazaki's work. Every backgorund is lush, and little elements like snow falling had been added.
The story itself is really quite endearing and because it's only PG you could take your kiddies to it. Be warned however, small children will find it a little scary and I even found that I had to hold back the odd tear (mind you being in the dark cinema nobody else knew).
This is everything an animated film should be. There are English dubs out there and to be honest I saw it in the Japanese with subtitles, but the English cast is really quite excellent so I suppose it's a matter of how patient you are to read. Go see it, aw go on. Cartoons aint just for kids... unless you too are 90 years old and under a curse.
Posted by Rollo at 12:12