Howl's Moving Castle (2004) movie poster

(2004) dir. Hayao Miyazaki
viewed: 03/24/06

I’ve been really busy with this 19th Century Mystery class that I am taking, in which I am reading about 500 or more pages a week and I just haven’t had much time to see movies lately. Oddly enough, for the first film that I have watched in two weeks, I ended up seeing one that I have already seen. Well, that’s the way it goes!

Anyone that knows me knows that I revere Hayao Miyazaki and his films. I honestly think that he is the greatest thing to ever happen to feature-length animation. Spirited Away (2001) is probably his masterpiece, and that is saying a lot because he has several excellent films that are unique and amazing taken on their own. I think, however, that Howl’s Moving Castle is getting a little of a short-shrift from many viewers because it comes in the wake of his best film. To say that it’s not as good as it’s most recent predecessor is not really a great insult. Unfortunately, it’s not taking the film on its own merits.

Easily, the first 90+ minutes of the film is as rich and beautiful and imaginative of any of his work. The castle, the fire demon, the Witch of the Waste, the scarecrow, the landscapes, are all greatly inventive and gorgeously rendered. I think it’s an interesting twist to have his typical female protagonist, Sophie, be turned into an old woman, a site of play with the narrative.

My only criticism would be that the story does kind of wind itself up rather quickly at the end, with stuff like the scarecrow being so fast that it doesn’t really have much impact. With that one exception, I think it’s a great film. If you feel like it, click here to see my initial reaction to the film.

I don’t buy DVD’s really. I have gathered some mainly to give my kids something to watch that I approve of and which doesn’t have commercials constantly barraging them. I would easily acquire Miyazaki’s entire catalog for this purpose, without a doubt.