SPOILERS AHEAD! YE BE WARNED!
Howl’s Moving Castle was the very first Hayao Miyazaki film I saw. I was cleaning the house and wanted something on for background noise, so I clicked on the TV and one of the cable movie channels had Howl’s Moving Castle on their InDemand channel. I wondered how a castle moved, not reading any other description, I decided to check it out. Let’s just say I did not get much cleaning done while Howl’s Moving Castle was on and ended up making eggs and bacon for dinner thanks to a scene from the movie.
The plot is pretty interesting. It revolves around Sophie, an 18-year old hatter, who is pretty demure and plain. She runs into the Wizard Howl while traveling to her sister’s place of work at a Bake Shop. The Witch of the Waste’s minions report back to her about Howl’s new friend and the Witch pays her a visit, not leaving before cursing her of course. Sophie is cursed to look like an old woman and can’t tell anyone about the curse.
She sets off on her own to the Wastes to find a cure for her curse. She meets an enchanted/cursed scarecrow she nicknames Turnip Head and eventually they find Howl’s very own Moving Castle. The “Castle” is an amazing walking steampunk dream powered by a fire demon named Calcifer and Howl’s own magic. Howl has an adorable apprentice called Markl who lives in the “Castle” as well. She falls in love with Howl and created a little family with Markl, Calcifer, and, eventually, the Witch of the Waste!
The story has MUCH more to it than I mentioned, but I did not want to spoil too much for you. This movie is enjoyed on its own. I recommend the English voice cast starring Christian Bale as Howl, Billy Crystal as Calcifer, and Emily Mortimer as Sophie (Jean Simmons as old Sophie). Even though the cast is perfect and the plot is so much fun, the real stealer of the show is the animation. The images are so crisp and bright and breathtakingly gorgeous. They are a true treat for the eyes. I can watch this film over and over again no matter what language it is in!