Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) is a full-length feature film that was produced by the popular Studio Ghibli. One of their best and most well known directors, Hayao Miyazaki, was in charge of directing the movie, and it is very apparent. Miyazaki is known as the best he does, and this movie does not disappoint. It was released in 2004 and has since been distributed by Walt Disney Pictures as part of their ongoing deal with Studio Ghibli. It has received numerous accolaides and awards and is well-loved by almost all who see it.
Howl’s Moving Castle is a fairy tale story, but is enjoyed by both children and adults alike. The main character in the story is Sophie. Sophie is the eldest daughter of three and works in a hat shop, sure that nothing will happen with her life. In the beginning of the movie, she is in trouble with a group of soldiers, and a handsome, mysterious wizard named Howl comes to her rescue. It is the most that has ever happened to Sophie, and she goes to sleep dreaming of the handsome wizard.
Late in the night, the Witch of the Waste appears in front of Sophie. She is jealous of Sophie and decides to curse her to look like a very old woman. Sophie, no longer feeling as if she belongs at home, takes her leave and heads into the area known as the Wastes. On her journey she meets a magical scarecrow that she names Turnip Head. Turnip Head helps her get work at Howl’s castle. It is when she is at Howl’s castle that she meets Calcifer. He is a fire demon and the main reason that the castle moves, and that the wizard Howl has such immense power. He makes a deal with Sophie that he will revert her back to her normal form if she breaks the curse that is on Howl. He is not able to tell her what the curse is, though, so she is left to figure it out on her own.
There is a war being fought over the missing Crown Prince Justin. Howl is contacted by both sides to fight with them, but he gets Sophie to go in his stead to visit the king’s head sorceress, Madame Suliman. It is on her trip to see the sorceress that she meets the Witch of the Waste again. Unfortunately for her, the Witch of the Waste is turned into an old lady by Madame Suliman and tells Sophie that Howl must fight for her or she will do to him as she did to the Witch of the Waste.
The story twists and turns as each character is trying to figure out the other’s curse, and through out the enchanting movie, Sophie and Howl find themselves falling in love. It is ultimately through their love that they are able to find a way to break both of the curses and to live, as fairy tales should end, happily ever after.