Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Words by Andy Caley


Hayao Miyazaki returns once again with another bizarre, beautiful and visually-stunning animation. Based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ tells the tale of a young insecure Sophie, cursed with the body of a weak old lady. It is the hedonistic, yet insecure wizard, Howl, and his friends, living in the legendary moving castle, whom she must rely on to break her curse.

The first thing to mention about this film is the beautiful animation. It will take your breath away – the attention to detail is immaculate, showing that animation is still as alive and evolving as computerised films, like ‘Pixar’ and ‘Dreamwork’s. Both can easily live together harmoniously as equals.

Like Miyazaki’s previous films (in particular reference to his Oscar winning film Spirited Away’), this is a wonderfully weird fairytale.

As in most Miyazaki films, the laws of the universe no longer apply, so for the duration of the film, you have to forget them. Yet, it is the love and elegance of this bizarre world that charms you, something that is rather ‘Miyazakian’.

With a myriad of loveable and redeemable characters, it is Sophie and Howl that steal the show, brilliantly voiced by Emily Mortimer (as young Sophie) and Jean Simmons (as old Sophie) and Christian Bale in the English dubbed version.

Miyazaki brilliantly captures Sophie’s blossoming to a confident and beautiful young woman. Yet, Howl is a rather enigmatic character, someone we have to peel in order to see what he is hiding beneath all the magic and good looks.

While it lacks the goosebump feeling of ‘Spirited Away’, it makes up for it in charm. It has the beauty and grace of ‘Princess Mononoke’ and the fun of ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’. This is a thoroughly enjoyable film for all ages that will warm the cockles of your heart.