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Howl's Moving Castle
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Product Description

Acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki adapts British writer Diana Wynne Jones's popular fantasy tale for this animated feature adding his own unique and celebrated dreamlike spin. A young hat-maker named Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer) is turned into an old woman by the dreaded Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall) when she attracts the notice of Howl (Christian Bale) a young wizard whom the witch desires for herself. As the old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) Sophie finds refuge as a cleaning lady in Howl's magical castle an impressively realized mishmash of anthropomorphic shafts and gears where she meets among other wonders a cantankerous fire demon named Calcifer (Billy Crystal). Howl's courage inspires her to seek a cure for her curse and vice versa and the two work together to prevent a major war as the castle roams the countryside on its mechanical legs. There's lots of magic afoot as well including travel through barriers of space and time and shape-shifting requiring full viewer attention to keep track of who where and when but this how dreams really are and the film engages on that same subconscious level. As with Miyazaki's previous work (SPIRITED AWAY KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE) the emphasis here is on creating a beautiful alternate reality where anything can happen and every frame is a breathtaking work of art. See it on the big screen if the chance presents itself; the elaborate intricacies and patiently realized alternate realities of Miyazaki's work makes him a true treasure.System Requirements:Running Time 119 Mins.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE Rating: PG UPC: 786936296662 Manufacturer No: 04139900

Like a dream, Howl's Moving Castle carries audiences to vistas beyond their imaginations where they experience excitement, adventure, terror, humor, and romance. With domestic box office receipts of over $210 million, Howl passed Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke to become the #3 film in Japanese history, behind his Spirited Away and James Cameron's Titanic. Based on a juvenile novel by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle marks the first time Miyazaki has adapted another writer's work since Kiki's Delivery Service (1989). Sophie, a 19-year-old girl who believes she is plain, has resigned herself to a drab life in her family's hat shop--until the Witch of the Waste transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. In her aged guise, Sophie searches for a way to break the Witch's spell and finds unexpected adventures. Like Chihiro, the heroine of Spirited Away, Sophie discovers her hidden potential in a magical environment--the castle of the title. Using CG, Miyazaki creates a ramshackle structure that looks like it might disintegrate at any moment. Sophie's honesty and determination win her some valuable new friends: Markl, Howl's young apprentice; a jaunty scarecrow; Calcifer, a temperamental fire demon; and Heen, a hilarious, wheezing dog. She wins the heart of the dashing, irresponsible wizard Howl, and brings an end an unnecessary and destructive war. The film overflows with eclipsing visuals that range from frightening aerial battles to serene landscapes, and few recent features--animated or live action--offer as much magic as Howl's Moving Castle. --Charles Solomon

The Many Worlds of Hayao Miyazaki

The works of Miyazaki

The Book

The Art of Howls' Moving Castle (book)

Stills from Howl's Moving Castle (click for larger image)







Customer Reviews:

  • Jones fan or not- watch this.
    I have read all of the one-star reviews, and have read some of the five-star reviews. You don't have to be too observant to see one thing- most people are disappointed with the fact that the movie is not like the Diana Wynne Jones novel. Has anyone ever compared a manga with an anime? A movie adaption to a novel? Even Harry Potter strays from the plot, sometimes.

    The fact that the movie is only about 1/3 accurate to the novel is fine with me. Both stories are equally enchanting, in my view. If you're a diehard stickler for storyline with Jones's novel, you have to consider this a whooole different story with the same characters. Most of them, anyways, since Michael turned into Markl.

    The movie features a war, which makes me think that Miyazaki was rather familiar with Jones's sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, "Castle in the Air." That is the book that mentions a war with a neighboring country, the escape/vanishing of Prince Justin, and using magic for the war. There's also Madam Suliman, who, if you pay close attention, is a mix of the Royal Wizard Benjamin Suliman from the novel, and Howl's old tutor, Mrs. Pentstemmon. Turnip Head is much less morbid in the movie, which I think is a good thing. The novel ... well, he sort of scared me in the novel. I don't want to spoil the deal with him, though. Howl, though, remains vain and in my opinion, very humorous, Michael/Markl is naive and funny as ever, Calcifer is still very ... Calcifer-like (although I like how Miyazaki made him more humorously hyper, his manner of speaking makes me laugh), and Sophie is the strong-minded female character that's there to screw things up, even though there's more emphasis on that in the novel.

    All in all, even Jones fans should be able to enjoy this take. Miyazaki's classical airship/war/beast elements do fit with Jones's original story. (I like the fact that Wales isn't there anymore, I thought that was completely out of context.) Five stars. :]...more info
  • magic charm and friendship
    It a strong film of magic and how things are not what they seem it delivers a breath taken story that fill your heart and make you realize that if we just try we can all succeed and be filled with happiness and be friendship is at times all ones has it carry you thru a world were to survive you must learn the way of the magic so it can work with you in the end its a simple as love that make things all well and how it portrait will leave a tear in your eye and a smile on your face...more info
  • Is That Really Christian Bale?
    Still hard for me to believe that the man who, while on the set for Terminator Salvation, dropped enough F-Bombs to defeat the Germans in World War II is the same man doing the voice of Howl. But such is the nature of voice-over, I suppose. Part of my disillusionment is that I really liked Howl's Moving Castle, and for that matter, the character Howl. Howl has the reputation of a playboy, stealing the hearts of women. It gets a little scary when we learn that the reputation also includes eating their hearts. So maybe Christian Bale knew what he was doing when he took on this role. Actually, he probably knew exactly what he was doing. One of the most engaging parts about Howl is that he fits the celebrity persona to a "T". I'm serious. He's flashy, cocky, self-absorbed and cowardly. And worse, he has the good looks to get away with all of it! However, like some celebrities, he actually turns out to be a likable narcissist.

    Howl meets Sophie, who is diametrically different than himself. She's plain in appearance and without an ounce of pretense; and somehow this garners a genuine interest from Howl. Sophie pays the price though when a jealous witch retaliates by turning her into an old woman. From here the story begins. And what a story it is. After all, it's not often that you get to see a child-friendly story about a loving attraction between a Magician Playboy and a 90 year old woman. Sure, underneath the elderly spell Sophie is really only 18 years old (qualifying her as the ideal celebrity obsessed groupie). But until she can break the witch's spell she'll have to wrestle with her achy breaky heart and her achy breaky bones. Howl may be a magician, but he has no magic to help her arthritis, and Celebrex hasn't yet hit the market.

    The magic of this magical tale comes part from the source book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones; but also because of the storytelling flair of director Hayao Miyazaki. Unlike Disney films that have a predictable story structure, Miyazaki's films usually indulge in a playful circuitous "2nd act" that gives no indication of when it will ever get back on track and head for the end of the story. In this case, the visuals are so lush that this is exactly what you want: to forget that you are watching a movie and get lost in Miyazaki's meandering imagination.

    The other thing about Miyazaki is that his characters walk right up to the line of clich¨¦ and then make a sharp detour. For instance, the witch that casts her spell on Sophie turns out to be, well, not quite a bad woman after all. In fact, she's an endearing old lady herself with a bit of sass. And as I pointed out before, Howl is not the perfectly mannered male that we're used to in most kid-cozy animations. He's a brat, but a very likable one. These character twists keep the story from being a typical tale of good and evil. Instead, everybody is delightfully idiosyncratic - especially the fire demon Calcifer, who is voiced by Billy Crystal.

    And then, of course, there's the castle itself, which I'd triple what I currently pay in rent to turn into my new abode. But until the castle comes a-walkin' in my 'hood, I'll settle for repeat viewings of this excellent DVD, which I've done more times than I'll ever admit....more info
  • Another wonderful Miyazaki film!
    I loved this movie. Yes, I've read the book, and yes, it is far different from the movie, but I loved them both independently. I read Diana Wynne Jones's book because of this movie. I so loved the film, that I wanted to read the book. Actually, I understood the movie a bit more after reading the book, but I still enjoyed them both immensely on their own--despite the differences.

    My kids watch this movie over and over again. They love it just as much as Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, and Nausicaa. This is a great Hayao Miyazaki film--and probably one of our favorites. Don't let the negative reviews scare you away. Even if it doesn't stay true to the book, it is still a great film....more info
  • Howl's Moving Castle: One of the two best movies ever made.
    Howl's moving castle, along with "Spirited Away", (The highest grossing film in Japanese History) are the two best movies ever made in my opinion.

    Buy these two movies, you will not regret it....more info
  • Pretty good movie, unless you expect it to be like the original book
    First of all, I need to mention that the three-star rating has more to do with my frustration with the extra features and interviews on this disc, than with the movie itself.

    The movie itself is visually great, as are all of Miyazaki's movies. I was a bit taken aback since I'd read the book the movie was based on (more on this later) about 2 months before seeing the movie. It was as if Miyazaki just read the first third of the book, then put the book down and wrote his own story. The second two thirds of the movie bear no resemblance to the book whatsoever, either in plot or characterization. In some ways, I think this is a good thing - some aspects of the book's plot wouldn't translate too well to movie format. I did like the book's plot better, although it was enjoyable watching Howl the bird. :)

    Then I started watching the interviews, and sat through a half an hour of Miyazaki getting praised for coming up with such ORIGINAL ideas (like a girl who comes into her own after being cursed with age, or a moving castle, or a door which opens to different cities depending on the way the doorknob is turned). While Miyazaki did take a LOT of creative license, and the movie is definitely a Miyazaki work... all of the specific ideas that I just listed SHOULD have been credited to Diana Wynne Jones, who published the book in 1986. I sat through interview after interview, waiting for SOME mention of the fact that these creative ideas had come from a children's book by the same name, but it never happened. It's as if the movie makers are completely unaware that there had been a book before the movie. And I just don't like it when credit is not given where credit is due.

    If it weren't for my frustration with the interviews, I probably would be giving this DVD four stars instead of three... I did enjoy the movie, and once I accepted the fact that Miyazaki had taken the basic story elements from the book and then written his OWN plot, I thought that there were many good things about the movie. It wasn't my favorite Miyazaki movie, but it was still pretty good....more info
  • Studio Ghibli may be to Japan what Dreamworks and Universal are to America...
    I can remember a long time ago seeing a preview for "Kiki's Delivery Service" on a Disney sing along video, unaware that it was a Japanese film made almost 10 years before in the year I was born by whom I now consider to be a legend, Hayao Miyazaki. It intrigued my 8 year old self, but I never got around to watching it. Then, about a month ago, on the recommendations of my already acquainted friends and having already having had some experience in watching anime, I started to watch some of the Studio Ghibli productions. They became like potato chips, I couldn't watch just one one time.
    As of now, I have seen in this order Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki's Delivery Service (finally!), Princess Mononoke, and Laputa Castle in the Sky
    I have to say that Howl's Moving Castle is my favorite one right now, with Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away close behind. Part of that may be the fact that the character of Howl has captured my heart in a way that no other animated character has ever done before. You girls thought Aladdin was cute when you were kids? Uh-uh, Howl is someone worth crushing on, at least for me ;)
    All that aside, the animation is much better than Disney has ever done, and Disney has done a lot. I think this is on par in terms of plot and animation with The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado, two of my favorite Dreamworks movies. In fact, Miyazaki-san has perhaps made me come to love animation in any country much more at 19 than at 9. I look at classics like Pinocchio and Sword in the Stone with new eyes.
    As for the voice casting, I am quite pleased with who they have. I always like to hear larger name voices in a Japanese movie dub than the people who are only known for dubbing anime. Christian Bale's voiceover of Howl is one of the main reasons that I am fawning so much over him right now. That quiet, smooth voice of his makes me become giddy whenever he talks. Also, I did not realize that Jean Simmons, the woman who voiced the old Sophie, who was also very memorable, was the same person who was Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls over 50 years ago. It was one of those movies I had grown up with, so knowing that made me admire her even more. Also, Billy Crystal had managed to play a comedic fire demon, but he also had some more serious moments as well, such as when he was a blue flame in Sophie's hands about to be freed from the spell. This was definitely not a copy of Mike Wizowsky here.
    All and all, this is an absolute must see for any lovers of anime, or animation in general. Miyazaki's other movies must be seen too. Do it!
    ...more info
  • Completely and utterly beautiful
    I prefer the voices of the Korean version better than the English, but other than that, the movie excels in the movie department. In each of Miyazaki's movies, a beautiful score is written, but Howl's Moving Castle's score is especially excellent. While listening to the music, watch the scenery: clouds, lush pastures, a day in a fantastical European city...The story also, though quite different from the book, is pure with a wonderful love. Miyazaki again produces a wonder, and give meaning to cinematographic animation....more info
  • Loved this. Great for a wide audience
    I gave this 5 stars because it is very good anime and a very good story line that is great for a wide audience. There's a wide variety of anime out there and this is something that would be a wonderful starter. ...more info
  • Classic!
    We went to the movie theater to see this premier, and it was even more mind blowing then. This is not a simple story, like Disney. The story gets very complicated, but in the end it's all worth it. Billy Cristal as a fire was genius! We fell in love with this movie....more info
  • What a wicked movie! (kids review)
    i thought this movie was an awesome movie! It was one of my favorites out of all the myuzaki movies. Well almost. And what a spectacular ending. Usually the characters wouldn't kiss at the end but in this one it shocked me. I'm fourteen and do not think kissing was disgusting. ...more info
  • Beautiful
    I adore this movie. Get whisked away to a world of magic, wizards, witches, demons, and evil spells. Howl's Moving Castle is a gorgeous fairy tale based (rather loosely) on the book. I found Miyazaki's rendition of this tale absolutely wonderful. The story follows an 18 year old hatter named Sophie after a curse from a jealous witch turns her into an old woman. Sophie meets Howl, a strange but kind wizard, and Sophie learns not only what love is, but how to love herself as well. One of my very favorite Miyazaki movies, Howl's moving castle will not disappoint. It is far better than most American Disney movies. It appeals not only to young children, but to adults as well. In fact, the complexity of the story will probably not be fully comprehended by a young child. I would recommend this movie to anyone who loves a good romance movie filled will trials, war, action, and learning. The soundtrack is simply magical as well. ...more info
  • Creative genius at its finest
    This is the finest example of creative genius I have seen in years!!!! Destined to be an example which all fantasy wtiters will hold their work up to and see if they have come close. Just buy it and get ready to be dazzled by innovative,fresh,imaginative story telling!...more info
  • Not one of his best movies!
    I have mixed feelings about this film. I'm not a big fan of Howl! The film had plenty of action and drama but I couldn't swallow some aspects of this film. It strives to be real concerning the but ends up naseauting toward the end!

    I think when anime tries to make it's characters more real it seems more surreal! I love the visuals I just couldn't stomache the characterization. Definitely not his best film!...more info
  • An unsuspected love story
    I read most of the reviews here and I wanted to give a different light to this movie that I don't think is emphasized enough. I'm assuming that you read the synopsis so I won't bore you with the plot of this movie. Basically want I think is the central theme of this movie is the love story between Sophie and Howl. I love that Sophie and Howl were able to love without prejudice and without restrictions. They saw in each other the strength to help each other overcome the curse that they were both under. In Sophie, Howl was able to see the courage that he lacked in himself and to face his fear of caring for someone and sticking with them. In Howl, Sophie was able to see someone who loved her for her even if she was turned into an old lady.

    I think this movie focused more on the characters and their development than the plot of the movie which I know Miyazaki is very popular for. The plot to me did not matter in this movie b/c IT WAS about the characters! I understand that a lot of people didn't understand the plot or they thought the plot wasn't going anywhere but I honestly think that's the point. I also thought that Miyazaki created a useless "war" b/c most wars are fought over useless things anyway and are started over useless things, like the king's son being lost. I mean do you really need to bomb a whole country side or village b/c your son is missing? He didn't make "war" a central theme in the movie or made the "war" plot go anywhere b/c I think the whole point was that war shouldn't be the answer to finding everything or solving anything and that's why the war plot didn't go anywhere. Personally I liked that he didn't focused on war and more on the characters and how they came to love each other, become a family, and trust each other. It's about love and redemption and the power to look past the appearance of a person and into their heart. I have all of Miyazaki's films and this is still my all time favorite Miyazaki and I wish he would make more movies like this. I hope this shine a different light for viewers next time they watch the movie and think about the characters and not the plot.
    ...more info
  • Simply awesome...
    My brother doesnt even like these type of movies and he really enjoyed them. I liked the storyline. Coming from someone who is relatively new to Miyazaki's work, the way he portrayed the love is nice. It wasn't unbelieveable. It was refreshing.
    Christian Bale is the voice of Howl-the young, conceided magician who falls in love with Emily Mortimer as Sophie-the young turned old girl(by a spell). THey have up and downs just as anyone normal person.

    My favorite part was where Howl has a tantrum because Sophie rearranged his maigc potions in the bathroom. He runs down the stairs saying "What's the use of living if I can't be beautiful?".

    Anyways, I strongly recommend this for everyone....more info
  • How's Moving Castle - treat to the imagination
    This is a great movie for kids of all ages - it really is not for everyone, as great works often are. For those who appreciate artwork gifted with great imagination and a poetic, wild sense of emotion, this movie is an instant classic. ...more info
  • Simple but elegant tale with fantastic art
    Miyazaki is probably the greatest anime director ever; point taken. He can't do a bad job and always creates wonderful and interesting works. This one isn't an exception, it's a good anime film with wonderful art, animation and an imagination beyond limits. But although I love Miyazaki's work, this isn't one of his best works.

    For fleshing out his story he would need at least more half an hour of animation, there are too many loose ends or unexplained events in this film, and it deviates so much from the original novel that it's only very loosely based on it (and I sincerely think that it should be made that remark at the beginning or end of the movie).

    Compared with princess mononoke's characters, Sophie, Howl, Suliman or the Witch of the Waste are completely bi-dimensional! For example the Witch curses Sophie with a terribly monstrous curse with absolutely no reason (if she wanted a spy there would be millions of easier ways) and next time they meet they are almost friendly, Sophie asks her to remove the curse; the witch says she can't; then O.K. no big deal, let's help the poor overweight woman!!!! There is no consequence for the actions formerly made. Also the Deux ex machina is quite abusive; especially the way Sophie finds Howls Castle.

    Many loose ends, if worked on, could had created a marvellous story. For example, Howl avoids at all costs being involved in the war, but for some unexplained reason he is always flying over the battlefields; this could lead to an excellent side plot but remains unexplored.

    It is a truly simple story, and very nice and uplifting tale; the image backgrounds are astonishing and the XIX century look mixed with magic and science is fantastic. But there is a lack of character motivations, too many coincidences, everybody is so simple, so good natured, everything can be worked out with a simple phrase "lets be friends" or a smile (from selling the soul, to loosing 60 years of life, almost being killed or ending a war!)...

    I believe you should watch this tale and be awed with the art, but not expecting a great story or unforgettable characters....more info
  • Never thought I'd like it...but I do.
    Bought this movie for my daughter after seeing it on television. A nice alternative to the Sponge Bob cartoons, this one actually has a story line about loving yourself and caring for others, the effects of war and of peace. Pleasantly surprised, I've watched the whole thing a dozen times already. ...more info
  • Loved it....
    I absolutely loved this movie. I'm not really into anime and don't even know why I decided to watch this....but I'm really glad I did. This is now one of my favorite movies. It's so magical and fantastical and romantic. I love Sophie's attitude. I love that she is such a positive person, even if she doesn't think she's beautiful on the outside. I love her reaction to being cursed into an old lady...she didn't panic, or get hysterical...i love how she decided to look at the positive, commenting on how her dress suites her better now. I love that! Its as if the curse was a reflection of how she felt on the inside so she accepted it because she always felt ugly anyway. And the prince, who is so vain, the opposite of her, sees her beauty. Awwww....how can you not love that?...more info
  • Well done, but sometimes I wonder if Miazake read the book.
    You see, I LOVED the book. It's one of my favorites, right up there with Hollow Kingdom, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. So I had high hopes for the movie. And it was good. But several things bothered me.
    ~*~SPOILER WARNING FOR BOTH MOVIE AND BOOK BEYOND THIS POINT!~*~
    #1: In Jones' world, the simple fact is, there isn't any technology. Yet some of the first scenes in the movie show street cars, trains, airplanes, etc. That would have ruined the quirky little scene in which Howl, Sophie and Michael visit Wales and ride in a car, if not for...
    #2: In the book, the black setting on the door leads to Wales, which is where Howl used to live, until he somehow got to the fairytale land. In the movie, it leads to...I'm not sure what. I *think* it leads to the air above Sophie's town. But I'm not sure. There seems to be a lot of fire and bombs. Which leads me to...
    #3: In the book, the main plot is Sophie trying to break Howl and Calcifer's contract, while they try to escape the Witch of the Waste and the curse she put on Howl. I know, confusing. Though not as confusing as Shakespeare. But I digress. Anyhow, in the movie, Howl spends most of his time not hunting girls (including Sophie's sister) as he does in the book, but turning into a winged bird-thing and stopping planes from dropping bombs. The Howl I know wouldn't do that-- he'd run away at top speed.
    #4: Names drove me crazy. In the book, Sophie had two sisters, Lettie and Martha. Howl fell in love with Lettie. Michael, his fifteen-year-old apprentice, fell in love with Martha, who was under a glamour that made her look like Lettie, and so was calling herself Lettie as well. Also, Howl was taught by a lady named Mrs. Pentstemmon, who is later killed by the Witch. And the royal wizard is named Wizard Suliman. The movie ignored most of this. Martha disappears. Michael's name becomes Markl and he loses about seven years of his age, making him around eight. Mrs. Pentstemmon steals Wizard Suliman's name(he's vanished too) and becomes evil. I was so confused. And finally...
    #5: The Moving Castle is a bug. A giant mechanical bug. In the book, it's a castle that floats. In the movie it's a bug.
    All in all, I liked the movie, but it seemed more like a reliving of Hiroshima than a movie about Howl, Sophie, and all my other friends from Ingary....more info
  • coudn't be more annoying
    i watched the first half of this movie trying to understand and enjoy it but it was so boring and meaningless that didn't allow me to watch it to the end.

    The story line doesn't make sense, the characters are depicted awfully and weird, a boy with long beard, an old woman cleaning a house over and over again, a young man who looks like a girl but has a deep manly voice; all confuisiing and nonsense.

    but to be totally fair there was one positive point in this move, the beautiful backgrouds which were painted just great and if you just look at them as still pictures, you would say "wow" this is amazing;

    if i want to watch this again, i turn off the voice, put on a soft music, and fast forward the movie to get to those scenes with awesome back grounds and then fast forward it again....more info