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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a "Howl"
Not a lot of directors would be brave enough to take on a love story between a girl-turned-old-lady and a wizard missing a vital organ.

But Oscar-winning director/writer Hayao Miyazaki tackles a new fantasy realm in in "Howl's Moving Castle." In this case, it's the world of fantasy dowager Diana Wynne Jones, and he wraps the storyline in humor,...
Published on 24 Nov. 2005 by E. A Solinas

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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great Ghibli
Howl's Moving Castle is visually one of the most spectacular and impressive of the Ghibli collection. As the Ghiblis are generally magnificent this is a very high standard to live up to. The Moving Castle itself is a tremendous addition to their works and this is one of the few times where a male character is sympathetically drawn in the artwork if not in...
Published on 16 Oct. 2009 by MLA


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, 6 Feb. 2006
By 
J. Michell "jonbob_the_great" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Howl's Moving Castle: Limited Edition Sleeve Design (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I didnt even know this movie existed until my 18th birthday when i took some friends to the cinema. The only thing out that we hadn't already seen was "Howl's Moving Castle." So we took a chance and dived in not knowing a single thing about the film. Boy am i glad we did! This movie is simply gorgeous, in every sense of the word. Miyazaki has quite rightly been crowned the "Walt Disney of Japan" and this film really does fall into that category.
The settings are beautiful and the story grabs you from the word go. The characters are varied and lifelike drawing you in further. You immediately develop an empathy for the main characters, and you find yourself almost praying for a fairytale ending. And being Miyazaki, this does not disappoint.
Given that the director's last picture, Spirited Away, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, this film did have a lot to live up to. After seeing Howl's Moving Castle I can honestly say Miyazaki has not let any standards slip.
In my opinion, this film is near perfect. It has a beautiful story, complimented by a moving score, and epitimises any person's fantasy of castles, witches and magic spells. I only hope it receives the recognition it deserves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another absolute classic from studio ghibli, 10 April 2006
By 
mo (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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i wont go on loads but this is brilliant!! well developed characters, heartwarming story, sweet ending, plenty of action and on and on and on. if you don't want to buy it at least rent it!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful fairytale with stunning animation, 16 Nov. 2009
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I am new to Miyazaki and to anime, and don't usually watch many animated films, although I have enjoyed some titles like Persepolis, Waltz with Bashir, and Secret of Kells in the last couple of years. I had heard some great recommendations for Miyazaki, so thought I would start with Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, as both are recent titles that I knew had been strong at the UK Box Office and had been an Oscar winner/nominee.

They were both great films, but for me HMC has the edge. I think it's a good choice if you are new to Miyazaki and Japanese films, as it has a British/European feel to it, particularly in terms of the character Sophie and the locations. (Also while HMC does feature a few bizarre language-less blobby monsters and creatures, there are fewer of these than in Spirited Away, perhaps this is what makes it seem like it has a better flow and sharper pacing)

Visually this film is very beautiful and very striking - both when it is portraying the fantastical (Howl as a bird, the ramshackle moving castle) and when it is portraying the more mundane (the elderly drooping face of Sophie, or the rolling fat of the obese Witch of the Waste). The colours are vibrant and the sense of movement in the film feels very strong.

At the centre of the story is the young girl Sophie who is transformed into a 90-year-old by an evil curse, and in the English-dubbed version Sophie is voiced by two actresses - Emily Mortimer as young Sophie and Jean Simmons as elderly Sophie (I think it's a lovely detail explained in the Extras on the DVD, that the producers listened to the voice of Jean Simmons as a young woman, and then chose Emily Mortimer because her voice matched the young Jean). One thing in the film that I found especially imaginative and striking was the moments (particularly towards the end of the film) when the images and voice of Sophie moved between young/old. For example, a frame in which Sophie feels hope and love for Howl might show Sophie as visually old but with the young Sophie's voice. There were also several times that visually she was at some in-between stage moving between young and old (indicated by variations in the greyness of hair, length of hair and posture which were all subtly altered). Very imaginatively done.

There are some dark themes in the film (war planes in the night sky, Howl's depression/difficulty adjusting when coming back from the dark side to 'normal' life, the threat of death). However there is also a great deal of humour - for example the character of Calcifer (voiced by the always-funny Billy Crystal, although perhaps a little under-used), and there's a particularly funny scene where the obese Witch of the Waste and the elderly Sophie (carrying a dog) are struggling to climb an extremely long flight of stairs while trying to maintain some dignity!

***** One thing to note: I wish I had know before purchasing from Amazon, that this product was the English dubbed version, as I usually prefer to watch foreign language films in their original language with sub-titles. However I found that it really wasn't distracting (in the way it can be on a 'live action' movie), and it didn't jar with the context of the film (British/European style settings). Apparently in the original Japanese version they only used one voice for Sophie throughout, and as I noted above I felt that the use of two voices for the young/elderly Sophie added to the strengths of the film, so there are advantages to getting the English dubbed version after all!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 3 July 2008
By 
Rae (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
Howl's Moving Castle is one of those rare gems which seem to have everything and suit everyone. There is a beautiful romance, magic, action, humour, vivid and detailed artwork...

It is a film which can be viewed on many levels - the storyline could be understood without difficulty by a child, yet someone older will find a huge amount to question and, through coming to conclusions themselves, the film's overall message is not dictated to the viewer, making it mean something slightly different to everyone. The strong anti-war message which runs throughout the film is made all the more powerful by the fact there seems to be no clear aim to the fighting- a theme which links to the reality of some of today's warfare.

However, this film is not, as the above paragraph may make it appear, highbrow or depressing. It is heart warming and uplifting, a wonderful fairy tale of the power of love, inner beauty and self esteem in a magical land, with a castle which can be in four places at once, a young girl transformed into an old woman by an evil witch, an extremely handsome but very vain wizard and many more bizarre and imaginative, yet beneath the outer layer, very human characters. The voices in English are brilliant, yet the Japanese subtitles are equally enjoyable, being different to the dubbed English. Howl is slightly old-fashioned in his speech which goes perfectly with his flamboyant attire and his romantic disposition and (for those of us who don't speak Japanese) not being able to understand the characters' speech adds to the magic of the story being set in another world.

No, the film is not loyal to the book- Miyazaki seems to have taken inspiration from the novel, not copied it, which adds the extra bonus of being able to read the book and enjoy it as an (almost) totally new story.

Really, there is very little to fault about this film, so buy and enjoy it; many times over!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Magic, 29 Sept. 2005
By A Customer
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I was lucky to be in France last year and see this film make its pre-release debut there. I may be 60 years old BUT my childhood still dances at my heels and this film was amazing to watch even though I had difficulty following the language (french). The animation is incredible and I understand that there is also a book available just on the artwork of this production. A collector's item soon, no doubt. I ordered Dianne Wynne Jones' book so that I could fill in the story having been so impressed with the Japanese animation. I have waited somewhat impatiently for this film to be released on DVD so that I can watch it with an English soundtrack and savour every moment of the magic. And it is just that - total magic! Don't try it - BUY it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking film... one of Miyazaki's best., 6 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Howl's Moving Castle: Limited Edition Sleeve Design (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I've been a fan of Miyazaki's work since I first saw My Neighbour Totoro and Porco Rosso during a mid-90's double bill and fell in love with the intricate stories, simply, yet larger than life characters, and the always breathtaking visuals. A recent Film Four retrospective on the work of Miyazaki and the famed Studio Ghibli has given me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with some of his earlier works, which has really been great preparation for readying myself for a second helping of this!!
Howl's Moving Castle is loosely based on the well-known book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, with Miyazaki and his collaborators opening up and elaborating on the text in order to incorporate many of the more recognisable Studio Ghibli trademarks. So, whereas the book once focused more clearly on the character of Howl, a wizard of dubious reputation, Miyazaki puts more emphasis on the character of Sofi, a heroine in the classic Studio Ghibli tradition. As the story unfolds the changes in the text point back to that earlier Miyazaki classic Porco Rosso, with the film continuing the idea of a character transformed by a curse (in this case, the young Sofi is cursed into the body of an old hag), seeking redemption in a anachronistic universe sometime during the First World War, that is overrun with flying machines, magical potions and other such Ghibli-like touches, such as fire demons, witchcraft and supernatural underworlds.
As with Porco Rosso, the film's setting and the use of iconography suggest deeper themes that most children probably won't pick up on, meaning that this is very much a film to be cherished by adults and adolescents too!! As with all Miyazaki's work, the animation is astounding, here advancing on the lush visuals of previous film Spirited Away to create perhaps the most jaw-dropping animated film ever made (though Mamuro Oshii's Ghost in the Shell 2 and Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy are both serious contenders). The colours are rich and vivid throughout, whilst the attention to even the most minute of period detail is impeccable, all adding to that sweeping Miyazaki grace, his feel for characters and his deft understanding of how to construct a sequence (both in terms of action and drama... making the film both magical and plausible in equal measures!!).
Howl's Moving Castle might be a little too obscure and sober for some viewers, especially when compared to some of Miyazaki's more celebrated works, such as My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, however, some perseverance reveals it to be every bit as memorable and beautiful as those two films, whilst the subtle references to early Miyazaki works like The Castle of Cagliostro and Laputa - Castle In The Sky make it an integral and equally magical entry into the Ghibli/Miyazaki canon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, delightful., 2 Jan. 2010
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Howl's Moving Castle, based on Diana Wynne Jones's book of the same title, is another Miyazaki masterpiece. The adaptation to screen of the book is quite masterfully executed, and the visuals are simply stunning. We have seen the movie several times - it's our daughter's undisputed favourite - and we find something new in it every time we see it. The movie just never gets old.
The audio track we usually play when watching the movie is the Japanese one, but the English audio track is also quite enchanting - very good voice casting, most notably in having Lauren Bacall voice the Witch of the Waste. Christian Bale adds an intriguing and aloof quality to Howl, and Billy Chrystal does a lovely job of Calcifer.
The musical illustration to the film is once again by Joe Hishaishi, whose work complements the film beautifully. 'The Merry-go-round of Life' and 'The Promise of the World' are wonderful melodies that stay with you well after you have switched off the DVD-player.
All in all a movie I highly recommend. You'll likely find yourself watching it again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Ghibli I've seen yet..., 21 Nov. 2008
By 
I am a pretty big fan of Studio Ghibli, so my review might be slightly biased to those of you who aren't. After I heard that Christian Bale provided the voice of Howl for this film (after seeing him in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, two of my all-time favourite films) I really wanted to see Howl's Moving Castle, and my God it's fantastic!

I'll try to keep this short and spoiler-free. This is SUCH a beautiful film, with spectacular animation (as we always get from Ghibli) and a sweet, sad story with a happy ending (the ending is so beautiful, it always makes me cry!) and fantastic characters (Christian Bale and Billy Crystal really stand out as voice actors who contribute to their characters enormously).

I have to warn anyone who is not familiar with Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki that you might find the storyline a bit confusing at first, (I had to watch Tales From Earthsea three times before I had any idea what was going on) but watch it again and everything should fall into place.

Buy this DVD, trust me: you'll never regret it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bit wierd, 19 Feb. 2010
I love studio Ghibli and this is still suitably sublime but, possibly because I was watching it with a cynical friend I found so many bits (serious bits too) really very funny. The fire deamon (at least in the american version) is intentionally funny, and delivers, but then what got me and my friend was how wierd some of the bits are, the witch turns to blubber, then stares at the fire (for good reasons but it was still wierd) The missing Prince appears out of nowhere (that was hilarious!!) Howl's odd skinny jeans, the dog that can't go upstairs but can fly!?! oh and the important transitions of Sophie from old to young for apparently no reason (that left us guessing) and the fact her dress kept changing colour, oh and how cute the super old sophie was!
This film, isn't as good as Spirited away (and almost all reviews suggest you watch it, so if you haven't, why are you even looking at this?) but it comes second and I've watched alot of studio Ghibli.
Worth a look, really it is. Very enjoyable, but not the best.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howl's animation magic!!!!!!, 22 Sept. 2006
All the elements that add up to create the director's distinctive style are here: the poetic love-story, the humanitarian message subtly disguised in allegory, the sheer beauty of his landscape designs, his craftsmanship that shines even through the details, his imagination like an unfathomed lake, sometimes dark, always mysterious. "Howl's moving castle" is, among other things, a love-story between a young handsome wizard, afraid of losing his good looks - and the plain girl who falls in love with him and is soon transformed in an old hag woman that is. The contrast between the external beauty of the wizard that can be altered by his selfishness and pride, and the internal beauty of the 90-year old Sophie, whose devotion and determination ends up saving her beloved from the curse that's eating him up, is a meditation on visible beauty (not meant to last), and truth of feeling (not an exclusive characteristic of youth). Traditional male-female parts are once again reversed, the female acting here as the "saviour" and the male being in need of redemption. Even when the male seems endowed with extraordinary (magic) powers, only the female has the true power of saving him, and herself subsequently - that power being always, in the Miyazaki film-universe, love. A wonderful, moving film - and not just for children! But also for Adults..

ps: some reviews that have been left are poor and i can understand why they have left negative comments, but story's being taken from books and put onto the big screen are never as good as the book's, but you have to look past that and still see the beauty within what to me is a truly fantastic animi film... and one that i cant recommend highly enough..
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