Animated movie, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki – 2004
What is it about?
First off, there’s a reason why the writer/director is mentioned. In the realm of Animated movies, Miyazaki is a legend. Each of his films plays like a melody. The scenes blend to create a picnic for the eyes, ears, and emotions, and this one is no different. Some of the people doing voice work for it: Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal and Jean Simmons.
Sophie, a young hat maker, has a quiet life in in the city. On the way home one day, Sophie harassed by some soldiers. She is rescued by a handsome young wizard named Howl. The Witch of the Wastes is jealous and curses Sophie to be a ninety-year-old woman. Sophie decides to leave her quiet life to find a cure. In a ninety-year-old body, this isn’t easy. Out in the countryside, she meets a Turnip-headed, a sort of living scarecrow. It, surprisingly, leads her to a walking…edifice. The place is a cross between a creaking old geezer, a rebuilt jalopy, and an estate that’s been rolled up and kneaded like dough. And, like droopy pyjama bottoms, the back door is hanging open. It’s raining; Sophie is tired. Who could resist such an invitation?
It’s here she meets, Calcifer, the fire “demon” who is bound to Howl. He sits in the kitchen fireplace, complaining and keeping the castle going. Another resident is Markl, Howl’s pre-adolescent apprentice. He’s also the valet, secretary, and jack-of -all-work. He and Sophie work together to take care of the Castle and Howl.
This includes trying to deceive the war secretary. Sophie must fly a plane, for the first time, through a storm. It also means trying to keep Howl’s heart and mind intact as he involves himself in the war.
In spite of its charm and dream-like plot, the movie is not a fairy tale. Howl is no Prince Charming, and the Witch of the Waste is more foolish than wicked.
The war is very real. There are definitely dark moments. What begins as a cute little Cinderella story becomes a tale of passages. The characters grow, some despite themselves. Some become who they were meant to be. The world moves on, and life finds a new normal. As a wise man once said, nothing stays the same forever.
Where to find it
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