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.
User Reviews: What an amazing achievement! This is by far the best example I have ever seen of animated characterization. The expressions and the nuances and the emotion captured in this film are truly breathtaking. I love all of Miyazaki’s work, but in Howl’s Moving Castle he has managed to take it to a level that to me sets the standard.
It has all of the classic stunning Miyazaki panoramas, rich settings, exciting and unusual machinery, and brilliantly conceived creatures that are often humorous and fanciful. The characters are all very expertly crafted and developed, but what really enchanted me were their expressions and the subtle but powerful ways that he chose to elaborate on their connections and emotions. It is very difficult to describe, but they come to life in such a powerful way as to seem entirely real and unique.
He achieves this within the medium – not by really imitating or parroting film or live action, but by artfully exploiting the medium to enhance and capture the subtle interactions that make up relationships. He shows his audience what his characters are thinking and feeling by carefully chosen gestures and facial expressions, rather than relying always on dialog, etc. I was completely swept away by this skillful use of animation – I have never anywhere else seen anything that begins to come close to it.
The story is fantastic – I haven’t read the novel, but it had all of the elements I have come to enjoy in Miyazaki’s work – there is the humour, the lighthearted moments, the strong, insightful, loyal, and honourable characters, the lyrical drama and action sequences. The pace is perfect – it flows nicely and is always exciting, suspenseful – I got very caught up in the characters and their struggles and hopes. The themes were expertly handled with Miyazaki flair – and always richly meaningful and perceptive.
I can hardly wait to see what this brilliant artist creates next!