Howl's Moving Castle

November 20th, 2004

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Howl's Moving Castle

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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 home.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 8.1/10 (73,649 voted)

Critic's Score: 80/100

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Stars: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin

A love story between an 18-year-old girl named Sofî, cursed by a witch into an old woman's body, and a magician named Hauru. Under the curse, Sofî sets out to seek her fortune, which takes her to Hauru's strange moving castle. In the castle, Sophie meets Hauru's fire demon, named Karishifâ. Seeing that she is under a curse, the demon makes a deal with Sophie--if she breaks the contract he is under with Hauru, then Karushifâ will lift the curse that Sophie is under, and she will return to her 18-year-old shape.

Writers: Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones

Chieko Baishô - Sofî (voice: Japanese version)
Takuya Kimura - Hauru (voice: Japanese version)
Akihiro Miwa - Arechi no Majo (voice: Japanese version)
Tatsuya Gashûin - Karushifâ (voice: Japanese version)
Ryûnosuke Kamiki - Marukuru (voice: Japanese version)
Mitsunori Isaki - Koshô (voice: Japanese version)
Yô Ôizumi - Kakashi no Kabu (voice: Japanese version)
Akio Ohtsuka - Kokuô (voice: Japanese version)
Daijiro Harada - Hin (voice: Japanese version)
Haruko Kato - Sariman (voice: Japanese version)
Jean Simmons - Grandma Sophie (voice: English version)
Christian Bale - Howl (voice: English version)
Lauren Bacall - Witch of the Waste (voice: English version)
Blythe Danner - Madame Suliman (voice: English version)
Emily Mortimer - Young Sophie (voice: English version)


Official Website: Disney [United States] | Liikkuva Linna [Finland] |

Release Date: 20 November 2004

Opening Weekend: ¥1,444,469,305 (Japan) (21 November 2004) (448 Screens)

Gross: $231,711,096 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Director Trademark: [Hayao Miyazaki] [gorging on food] Markl gorges his breakfast.

Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Grandma Sophie first enters Howl's castle, Calcifer talks about his misfortune, and he says "Keep the rooms warm, water hot, castle moving" and so on, but later Sophie asks Calcifer if he is the one moving the castle, as if she didn't know. Grandma Sophie is actually falling asleep when Calcifer mentions moving the castle so she most likely did not hear him say that. Also because she has been turned into an old woman she could be hard of hearing.

[to Howl]
Calcifer: You shouldn't keep flying around like that. Soon you won't be able to turn back into a human.

User Review

A wild and surreal trip into the mind of a master.

Rating: 10/10

I think this is possibly Miyazaki's most intriguing movie. All of his other films are very linear and even though their highly varied worlds may be visually stunning and highly creative, I feel the dreamy world of Howls Moving Castle is by far the most captivating, bizarre, and imaginative of all the worlds Miyazaki has ever envisioned.

What I love about this movie is that it's highly emotional without a great deal of logic or plot or story to get in the way. In this way the film is simple, pure, and extremely beautiful. It is as if the characters go from one emotion to the next, in a world that is as random as one's own dreams. Some people have complained about the lack of plot or story or serious character development, but even though the characters are fairly static, their emotions and the physical changes they undergo as they go through these emotions brings out a higher truth that is seldom given such artistic and natural freedom.

I think this is a very smart movie in many subtle ways and it's one that I look forward to watching again on the big screen and then on DVD. Although it flirts from theme to theme to theme with a kind of animated attention deficit disorder, the landscapes and utter unabated surrealism left me stunned and never bored.

Also, from a quizzical character design perspective, Howl is certainly one of if not the most beautiful characters that Miyazaki has ever created. Howl is an interesting departure from Miyazaki's more classical wabi-sabi anime style that most of his heroes and heroines are drawn in as Howl is definitely a very contemporary bishonen.

If you're looking for quaint settings, dynamic characters and a very involving character or plot driven story, you're not going to necessarily find them here, but you will find an equally stunning and pleasing movie if you let yourself go and enjoy this passionate, heartfelt and surreal Miyazaki dream.

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