Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Lilith et Adalia Cinema Presents: Howl's Moving Castle (2004 Film)

Today I want to introduce "Howl's Moving Castle" in our ongoing "Lilith et Adalia Cinema" series. This is a film by Hayao Miyazaki coming off of his Acaemdy Award for Best animated Feature for "Spirited Away". Don't be surprised if you see more reviews from us on films from Studio Ghibli, not only because we at Lilith et Adalia are huge animation junkies but also because many of the films in Studio Ghibli and especially by Hayao Miyazaki usually contain a strong female lead character and one of the things we're all about is female empowerment. Now down to business.

Howl's Moving Castle is an adaptation of the book Howl's Moving Castle (1989) by British author Diana Wynne Jones. It is the first book in a series called "The Howl Series" followed by Castle in the Air (1990) and House of Many Ways (2008).

I remember when I first watched this movie in 2005 I was a underwhelmed. I had just seen Spirited away, was blown away by the magic and the visuals and then watched this movie and didn't care for it. To this day now that I've re-watched this movie I don't understand why, except I think that I wasn't old enough to understand.

Sophie, the main character of the film is a an eighteen year old who works in a hat shop. While Sophie is very talented and responsible she doesn't have much confidence in herself, which you can see at some points when she wistfully stares at other girls all dressed up and resist hanging out with them, only to be alone.  

Sophie during her first encounter with the powerful wizard, Howl.

One day she runs into Howl, a powerful and mysterious wizard while on her way to visit her sister. Later on while she's trying to close up shop she refuses service to a woman, but little does she know is that this woman is a witch who exacts revenge on her by turning her into an old lady.

Can't forget a scene of Howl's moving castle (literally).

Throughout the film, we see Sophie coming out of her shell and learning to be comfortable in her own shoes, letting go of the constraints she placed on her since she no longer feels that she has to worry about her appearance. But one of the most beautiful things about this film is that even though the entire time Sophie is an old lady Howl actually sees her for who she really is, as the same charming girl he met earlier on in the story. 

As she gains more confidence her outer appearance begins to match how she feels on the inside and Sophie realizes that she had the power to change herself "back to normal" all along. Of course you could probably think that sounds ridiculously cheesy, but at the same time it is a nice message and I wish I understood it when I was younger. It's a great movie to watch at any age.

Once again this movie is another great effort  from Miyazaki. Almost every scene looks like a piece of art and the attention to detail is always a staple in a Studio Ghilbi film. Here are a couple of examples of background scenes.

Thank you for reading! What are your favorite animated films? Leave us a comment and we will be sure to check it out if we haven't already seen it.

- Lilith et Adalia

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