Howl’s Moving Castle is a family-friendly animated film in anime style that is set in a futuristic Victorian age full of wizardry. It’s a beautiful tale of breaking free from one’s curses through love. While the fantasy nature of the movie is far-fetched, you will grow close to the characters and relate to their struggles, hopes, and fears.
The movie starts with a young woman named Sophie who has a chance encounter with the great wizard Howl. Shortly thereafter, she has an unfortunate visit from the Witch of the Waste, who casts a curse which turns her into a very old woman. Sophie then embarks on a journey to find a way out of her curse.
She stumbles across Howl’s moving castle, where she meets Calcifer (voiced by Billy Crystal), the fire demon that runs the house due to a curse of his own and contract with Howl. She also meets Markl, the boy apprentice of Howl. And once again, she meets Howl, but now in her old woman state. She takes on the role of castle cleaning lady and they allow her to live with them.
It soon becomes evident that the wizard Howl is living with a curse of his own. While Sophie is searching for an answer to her own curse, she finds herself helping Howl and Calcifer find a way from their curses as well. And let’s not forget how love blooms between Sophie and Howl. He sees through her curse and she sees through his.
The adventures endured by these characters are relatable to the audience. The love story is reminiscent of our own lives where we fall in love, and that allows us to see beyond the curses, or unfortunate challenges, of a partner and within oneself.
We also all feel as though we have curses in our lives that if we could just break free from, we’d achieve happiness. Often we look to others to take away our curses, but (especially as women) we end up helping others with their curses (or problems, trails, and challenges) instead of merely focusing on our situation. This movie points out that it is through this female ability to look beyond oneself and help others in the midst of her own struggles, that she then finds the strength to solve her own problems, too.
It is debatable whether or not this is a healthy message to send to young women, but without a doubt, it is a realistic one.Sophie is the hero of this story, a nice change of pace from Prince Charming. However, the message of seeing through one another’s curses plays a very important role in the rescue. This proves to be a powerful yet realistic statement.
This movie will take you on a fantastical journey and lead you through an array of emotion that will either broaden your perspective or bring comfort to your relatable circumstances. It may be true that curses, wizardry, and a war-torn country may not exist in our world in the way it is portrayed in the movie.
However, we do have these same events of unfortunate and limiting circumstances, power to act upon our situations and help others through love and compassion, and we are all affected by government, war, and politics. I recommend you see Howl’s Moving Castle. Despite the highly fictionalized setting, the character development is enthralling, and the messages in the movie are empowering.
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