Home is Where the Heart is
Howl's Moving Castle
Review Review by Ross Anthony

The first third of this production is magical: captivating, breathtaking, imaginative, magical. A modest young woman is literally swept off her feet by a charming prince-like wizard. That sounds standard fairy tale fair, I know, but the way this production makes it happen is magical. Right up to and including a spell expected to knock the life out of the modest woman. I love the way that she adapts.

As the film lumbers on (pun intended: Howl's Moving Castle is made of wood -- among other things), however, the production becomes more and more about magic while slowly waning in the magical department. This wizard has stronger power than that wizard; this witch casts a stronger spell on that human than this spell. That stuff burdens what is otherwise a human tale of love, longing and identity.

Actually, as the film comes to its revealing close, and many questions are answered (too many), we're left with the feeling that the whole story was more or less an extended metaphor for how the human mind, will, and heart interact. I wouldn't mind screening the film with that knowledge; perhaps I'd appreciate more of it. But as it stands, an enchanting send-off slowly loses a bit of its luster, stays en route about 15 minutes too long, then wraps up too many mysteries in too short a time.

That said, some gorgeous imagery, charming to look at, and a cast of endearingly animated characters keeps the production enjoyable. If you like it... you should see Spirited Away.

(I screened the English dubbed version.)


  • Howl's Moving Castle. Copyright © 2005.
  • Starring the voices of Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Josh Hutcherson, Billy Crystal.
  • Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
  • Screenplay by Hayao. Based on the Novel by Diana Wynne Jones.
  • Produced by Toshio Suzuki at Tokuma Shoten/Ghibli/Nippon TV Net/Dentsu/Buena Vista/Mitsubishi/Toho.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:09:07 PDT