Howl’s Moving Castle – Old School Review


It’s been a while since I’ve done an old school review… a very long while.

I used to review old movies I love or old movies I’d never gotten the chance to see. I called that series Old School Review. The posts are still up on my blog, they’re just probably way at the bottom of my film tab.

So, I’ve always wanted to watch Ghibli films and I never had. I had the chance in University but they always hosted the viewings on the Sabbath and I tend to not watch anything on the Sabbath soo… yeah I never got to watch the movies with them (the anime society).

However I saw that the movies were on Netflix and I was so excited and so I vowed I’d watch them and after some (a lot of) procrastination I watched three… and then Netflix took them off!! *sobs* They took them off the British Netflix anyway.

So, the first movie I watched was Howl’s Moving Castle. I realise this is not many people’s favourite Ghibli film. Whenever I would tell people that it was the one I was most looking forward to seeing they would react like, “Really?” I started to worry that perhaps it wasn’t as beautiful of a movie as it seemed.

They were wrong and I was right, it is as beautiful as it seems! I love the animation and the way everything was brought to life. For one thing Howl is beautiful, he’s beautiful when he dolls himself up and when he’s got plain (according to him) black hair.

Then there’s their clothes! This may be a me thing but I loved their costume designs. It really put me in the time period and got me immersed in the story. I have never wanted to cosplay so quickly after watching something than I have after watching Howl’s Moving Castle (I already have the earrings).

Then there’s the nature and the way the supernatural elements were animated. It was just so beautiful and ethereal. It was what drew me into the movie in the first place and made me want to watch it. I loved the idea of a moving castle and having watched the film I like how he can switch between four locations.

The scene where he takes her to his home and it’s surrounded by flowers and there’s his house in the middle of the field… so gorgeous. That’s my dream honestly, to live in a field of flowers. The only thing is I wondered if he got lonely living there and I wondered if that was why he was so excited to share his home with Sophie.

I also loved the soundtrack, the theme ‘Merry Go round of Life’ and the characters. They’re not perfect but that’s what I like about them. From Calicifer to Markl and to Turnip Head.

Omd, for some reason I got really attached to Turnip Head, he was such a wholesome character and the twist at the end when he turned out to be the missing Prince, I did not expect that. Who turned him into a scarecrow? Was it Suliman?

Speaking of Suliman I like how my expectation that the Witch of the Waste would be the big bad was subverted and it turned out to be Suliman and war. Apparently in the book, which the film is based on, by Diane Wynne Jones, the Witch of the Waste is the big bad but Hayao Miyazaki decided to go in a different direction. 

I do like the direction he went in. The anti-war message I do agree with. That there are always going to be causalities on both sides and it’s mostly always the innocent. How war can turn even the best person into a monster and how ugly war is.

I liked how Suliman was a surprise and how Howl gained bravery in the face of having to protect Sophie and also from Sophie keeping him grounded.

I also liked how the Witch of the Waste didn’t really become a good person simply because she lost her magic. She was still selfish and still desired Howl’s heart and that almost cost her, her life.

My only complaint is that I wasn’t convinced of the love between Sophie and Howl or rather it happened too fast. In between the scene where his hair reverts and her going to see the King there’s something missing.

If there had been something in the middle, a montage or just some scenes showing them getting closer and falling in love I would have been more convinced. Because as it stands it was a bit abrupt for me.

Also at the end when she time travels she says wait for me and that they’ll meet again right? Then at the beginning of the film he meets her and it appears as if he knows her. So… does he remember? Was he pretending not to know most of the movie?

Also what was the deal with Heen? Why did he decide to help them and not to rat them out to Suliman? Isn’t he supposed to be loyal to her?

So those are the questions I had and where I found it lacking.

However other than that I loved the movie. It was so peaceful and it felt like barely any time passed as I watched it. I watched it twice in one night in fact.

I also like how they portrayed old age. She’s old and it is difficult but she’s still strong and courageous and it’s like she gains the confidence she needed when she is old Sophie.

I liked how even though the Witch of the Waste was still the enemy she cheered her on as she struggled up the stairs.

Stairs… a cruel and unusual punishment.

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