Archive: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) A Review

My next experience with Studio Ghibli is in the form of this much-loved film.  And I think it may be my favourite so far.

Certificate: U

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Screenwriter: Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay), Diana Wynne Jones (novel)

Starring: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin

Genre: Animation, Adventure

Runtime: 119 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

In a time where we could all use all the joy we can find, it is a god send to me that Netflix are dropping these Studio Ghibli films every so many weeks.  Every one I watch is a magical, imaginative story, that offers great escapism right now.  And ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ one of the newest Ghibli films to hit Netflix this month, is definitely my favourite I have seen so far.

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 castle. – From IMBD

As we have come to expect from Studio Ghibli films over the years this story is jam packed with magic and whimsy and all those good feeling things.  No where near as dark as ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Howls Moving Castle’ approaches magic and curses in a much more accessible and child friendly manner.  While still having elements of adversity and conflict, as most children’s films do, to stop it from feeling too sugary and being boring to the adult audiences that also enjoy these animated classics.

I did find the general story a little hard to follow at first, though maybe after a week and a half in lockdown, my attention span isn’t what it once was. But it took me a while to really get a handle on what was going on and to be honest I am still not entirely sure that I understood it, but it is a testament to the film, that this didn’t entirely ruin my experience.  I get that there was a war going on and Howl didn’t want to fight, but then he decided he had to fight…anyway, not getting the plot didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story.

This film probably has the best cast of characters, and the further we go along, and the more people join this merry band of heroes, the better it gets.  I wouldn’t trade a single one of them.  I love that the Witch of the Waste goes from being a very callous and glamourous lady, to an adorable Grandma, and offers a lot of laughs towards the end of the film.  For me it was the characters that made this film such a joy to watch and I would highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t already seen it.

Howls Moving Castle is now available to watch on Netflix.

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