Acclaimed Japanese animated feature from director Hayao Miyazaki. Sophie (voice of Chieko Baisho) is an ordinary girl who works in a hat shop, but one day she is swept off her feet by the mysterious wizard Howl (Takuya Kimura), and is then turned into a 90-year-old woman by the evil Witch of the Waste (Akihiro Miwa). In order to lift the curse, Sophie travels with Howl aboard his floating castle, as he risks his life to bring peace to a warring kingdom.
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
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