Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – 8/10 Hayao Miyazaki animated fantasy movie review

Cast / crew
Writer (Original Novel) Howl’s Moving Castle: Diana Wynne Jones
Jean Simmons: Grandma Sophie
Christian Bale: Howl
Lauren Bacall: Witch of the Waste
Blythe Danner: Madame Suliman
Emily Mortimer: Young Sophie
Josh Hutcherson: Markl
Billy Crystal: Calcifer
Executive Producer U.S. Production: John Lasseter
Producer U.S. Production: Rick Dempsey
Producer U.S. Production: Ned Lott
Director U.S. Production: Pete Docter
Director U.S. Production: Rick Dempsey
Writer (English Language Adaptation): Cindy Davis Hewitt
Writer (English Language Adaptation): Donald H. Hewitt
Writer (Translation): Jim Hubbert
Writer (Screenplay): Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

After notorious heart-eating wizard Howl rescues her from an attempted sexual assault, young haberdasher Sophie is targeted by a rival witch and cursed with an old age spell and the inability to tell anyone about it. She leaves home and moves in with Howl as his cleaner but finds that he is nothing like his monstrous reputation.


While certainly B-grade Miyazaki thanks to an eventually incomprehensible plot, this beautifully animated, paced and scored movie remains enthralling from beginning to end, tickling your imagination and gently massaging your eyes and ears. It’s like magic; Miyazaki genuinely captures your imagination and relentlessly engenders wonder. How does he do that? While Miyazaki is clearly the most important ingredient, it cannot be overstated how critical Joe Hisaishi’s scores are. They are light and wondrous and magical and we are fortunate that these two masters have come together and given us so much joy in their movies.

This movie contains gory and unpleasant scenes and mild nudity.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.


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