Studio Ghibli: Five Favourites – Post Three

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Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro)
2004

Miyazaki and the Ghibli team are almost always stellar at adaptation. Howl’s… was first a fantastic, semi-satirical and wonderfully imaginative book by English writer Diana Wynne Jones, who first published it in the 1980s. For the film adaptation of Howl’s Miyazaki created what some reviewers feel is another visually stunning film but one that suffers from a dense plot.

I’d argue that Howl’s the film actually uses a simplified plot, where characters in the book might be combined into one for the film (Sophie has two sisters in the book for instance), or where subplots are either left out or melded.

(And I personally have no problem with this approach (by any filmmaker.) A film is not a book. They are meaningfully different and attempts to attack one for failing to reflect the conventions of the other is tedious.)

But back to Howl’s Moving Castle. Because it’s the castle itself that will probably enchant you as much as the characters or story, I thought a link would be in order – see below – because it’s an amazing piece of work, blending CGI and cel animation in a very fluid manner.

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Howl’s castle – click through to youtube, where you can see it move.

Living in the castle is the mysterious Howl, a wizard who enchants (not literally – someone else does that) the main character, Sophie, early on in the film, establishing the strong romantic aspect of the plot. Woven between their developing relationship, is magic, war and domesticity all offset by a curse placed on young Sophie, trapping her in the body of a 90 year old woman.

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As with many other Miyazaki films, there is a familiar anti-war theme, but he’s not heavy handed – even if some of Howl’s dialogue might been seen as such. More value for the viewer will probably come, once again, from characters’ relationships  –  take fire-demon Calcifer for one, whose relationship with Howl is not only complex and amusing, but vital to the plot in more ways than one.

Calcifer is voiced by Billy Crystal in the English dub. He does a great job too, which surprised me (in a good way.)

Once again Joe Hisaishi, provides a memorable soundtrack, with lush waltzes and heartfelt themes. Today, rather than link to the OST, I thought I’d share a great cover of one of the signature pieces, as performed on acoustic guitar by Sungha Jung:

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Stay tuned for the fourth in the list!

Post One
Post Two

6 thoughts on “Studio Ghibli: Five Favourites – Post Three

  1. I added this one to my growing Studio Ghibli collection today, Ash. Waited patiently for the streamings of sunlight and daylight reflections to slip away from my laptop screen, broke open a Merlot, locked the disc in, and sat fixed in my metal frame chair from beginning to end with occasional outbursts of laughter and tears, and not a slight hint of my back pain.

    • Fantastic, Brad – transported into the film! 🙂
      I love Howl’s, so many brilliant small touches, like Turniphead’s character, achieved so nicely without words, or Sophie’s hand gestures to the witch on the steps, so many high points!

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