Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Studio Ghibli Fest: Howl's Moving Castle (2004)


Movie Name/Year: Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Animation
Length:  1h 59min
Rating: PG
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Japanese Language Cast: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Akihiro Miwa, Tatsuya Gashûin, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mitsunori Isaki, Yô Ôizumi, Akio Ôtsuka, Daijirô Harada, Haruko Katô, Yayoi Kazuki
  • English Language Cast: Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Josh Hutcherson, Billy Crystal, Jena Malone, Crispin Freeman, Mark Silverman
IMDb Blurb: 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.
© 2004 Studio Ghibli - NDDMT
Cat’s Point of View:
I have recently had Studio Ghibli heavily on my mind - in a good way. My daughter and I have been watching several of the beloved animated movies recently, and my Ghibli Fest attendance only fueled that fire. While I haven’t yet seen the film that is immediately up next in August 2023’s festival lineup, I am intimately familiar with September’s showcase film: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is everything you’d want an adventure and fantasy animation to be. There are witches and curses, wild transformations, epic conflicts that require resolution through unconventional means, epic journeys of personal growth, a rich landscape, and even a splash of romance. 
© 2004 Studio Ghibli - NDDMT

When I say romance, I’m referring to the concept in it’s pure form and absolutely suitable for most ages. As I mentioned in my last Ghibli Fest article, Hayao Miyazaki’s (Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro) work focuses on developing the overall story; and while love and romance might be cornerstones of quite a few of the films it never goes to the graphic lengths that most mainstream cinema takes things these days. 

When considering watchability for the very young, I’d just have to encourage parents to review the material or watch the movie at home before taking the kids to a theater to determine if they feel the content is suitable. There are some slightly grotesque shape-changes and a few scenes that might be scary to the very young - but that’s also very relative and subjective regarding the individual child. There’s nothing as graphic as in Princess Mononoke (1997).
© 2004 Studio Ghibli - NDDMT

I feel I would be remiss without mentioning that I was “today years old” when I realized that Howl’s Moving Castle is actually a novel adaptation. Reading some of the reviews of the film clued me in to the fact that the movie does differ from the book in potentially significant ways. I haven’t read the book so could not advise whether I, personally, mind the changes. I am intrigued now, though, and do intend to add this book to my ever-growing to-read list. If you’re a fan of the book, I’m not sure if you’ll be ok with the changes or not. (If you don’t mind spoilers, IMDb’s trivia page for Howl’s Moving Castle has some of these differences listed.)
© 2004 Studio Ghibli - NDDMT

This is one of those few rare movies that never get old for me. I could watch it a million times over and over and never tire of it and watch it a million times more. It’s a comfort-watch for both myself and my daughter and is one of the first films she insists her friends watch if they’re into anime. 

The Ghibli Fest 2023 is running through early November, so if you would like to catch a showing of these classic anime movies, check out the schedule through the Fathom Events site

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 87%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 93%
Metascore – 82%
Metacritic User Score – 8.7/10
IMDB Score – 8.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
P.S. - Just as an extra piece of trivia in clearing up a common misconception stemming from a few of the DVD and blu-ray release editions of some of the Studio Ghibli movies - Disney does not, and has never owned Studio Ghibli. They only had a limited distribution deal with Studio Ghibli, and that expired in 2017 when GKIDS took over the distribution rights. 
Movie Trailer:

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