Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle is from Studio Ghibli, the same folk who made Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. It's based on the book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, and the animators have managed to preserve her style - I've not read the book yet, so I'm not sure how well the story itself came through. Personally, seeing as it combined an anime look, a steam and magic powered mobile fortress, a door that goes to different places, and well developed characters, I thought the film was excellent.

There was one bit where I fairly literally lost the plot, but I think I must have missed some essential line of dialogue - subtitles in English over Japanese sounds are great, but if you glance away for a moment, a line can completely pass you by.

The film has a similar surreal atmosphere to Spirited Away, while still preserving a feeling of Middle Europe - I kept thinking of Prussia when I saw the uniforms of soliders and functionaries, and there's a definite World War II feeling about parts of it as well. There's no effort to set rules around the magic of the setting; it's accepted, it works, and it more or less just is.

Posted by Drew Shiel at April 18, 2006 3:49 PM

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I don't think it's the subtitles -- I think the plot of the movie just has a gaping hole in it, which is not adequately papered over by some fast action sequences with no parallel in the book.

The movie is charming and delightful, as all Studio Ghibli movies are, but it suffers from Miyazaki's inability to deal with a proper villain (most of his movies have antagonists with understandable motives; by comparison, Diana Wynne Jones pretty much does Villains; believable, but thoroughly nasty and unredeemable). The novel did have a villain, and the villain drove the main plot; the movie doesn't, and it also removes a parallel-universe aspect of the setting, so that the plot gets distinctly soggy towards the end, when it's heading towards a resolution that the preceding story can't really provide. I think Miyazaki does better when he's using his own material than when he adapts other people's.

Posted by: at April 20, 2006 12:06 AM