Howl's Moving Castle (dubbed) Cert. U Picture house at FACT

  • Released2004
  • Running time119 minutes
  • DirectorHayao Miyazaki
  • LanguageJapanese

Not every action movie has as its heroine a 90-year-old woman, but the ordinary and extraordinary are always radically confused in Miyazaki's work and his freestyle adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones's novel is no exception.

At the start of the film his pensionable protagonist is a homely young hatter called Sophie, cursed by the Witch of the Waste to take on the form of an elderly lady but unable to explain her predicament.

Pragmatically undeterred, she finds herself a job as a magician's cleaning lady in Howl's Moving Castle – a clanking Hieronymus Bosch-esque mobile abode with huge chicken legs, cottages, smokestacks, and prehistoric wings, where the dandified wizard Howl resides with his assistant, Markl, and talking fire-sprite Calcifer.

They've got problems too: in a world where sorcery earns its keep as a military weapon, Howl fights both inner and outer demons to outwit rival warmongering factions, and the film stakes its claim as a powerful anti-war statement.

Visually, it is everything a Studio Ghibli movie should be: beautiful, intricate, subtle, enchanting, and full of imaginative treats, from the gooey minions of the opening sequence to the falling stars of the close.

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