Studio Ghibli | DistributorOptimum Releasing | Certificate U | Price £12
Howl is a charismatic magician with an
alias in every town and a castle that roams the countryside on a pair of
mechanical crow’s feet. Sophie is a mousey young girl who works for her mother
as a simple milliner.
The two are united by the sorcery of a
jealous witch who, in the search for Howl’s heart, turns Sophie into an old
woman long before her time. With an English dub voiced by the likes of Lauren
Bacall and Billy Crystal, this is an exceptional film.
In a slight departure for Studio Ghibli,
Howl’s MovingCastle has been adapted from a novel by
the British author Diana Wynne Jones and, as it turns out, this has both
advantages and disadvantages.
Following the book means that the film
gains a fantastic set of characters and a great sense of place. However, on the
downside, it also makes the plot slightly awkward as the story is levered into
Howl’s 115-minute running time.
Fortunately the main characters are so
vivid and their relationships so strong that the back-story becomes secondary
to your wish to join their quest or just hang out in the castle trading bon
mots with Billy Crystal’s demon.
Like the castle of the title, this movie
takes a fair while to get a head of steam up, so you need to put in a little
effort at the beginning to really see how good this is. Those familiar with
Studio Ghibli’s past masterpieces will probably already know that this small
investment will, as always, be very well rewarded.