Despite what you may see in the advertising, this is not your father's Walt Disney; they only distribute the film. But many are calling 64-year-old Hayao Miyazaki the "Japanese Disney," and for good reason. His movies are acclaimed by critics and audiences alike—some have become the top grossing films in his own country while also delighting audiences all over the world. In 2002, he earned the Oscar for Best Animated Feature with Spirited Away, continuing to make great strides in broadening the appreciation for Japanese anime through dense storytelling and occasionally breathtaking animation.
Released in Japan last November, Howl's Moving Castle is already another international blockbuster. But instead of drawing upon Eastern mythology and folklore, this one is based on a popular 1986 children's book written by fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones (who studied at St. Anne's College in Oxford, attending lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien). A modern-day fairy tale very much in the same spirit of Grimm's fairy tales and Beauty and the Beast, some have called this a precursor to Harry Potter.
The story centers around Sophie Hatter (voiced by Emily Mortimer of Dear Frankie), the eldest daughter who has taken up the family trade of hat design (naturally), resigned to the idea that happiness and excitement will never be part of her life. Which seems hard to believe considering she lives in such a picturesque European-styled town by the sea—and with reports of the titular castle roaming the countryside. Howl, the keeper of the castle, is rumored to be a vicious wizard that woos beautiful young maidens, only to literally steal their hearts. Sophie begins to wonder otherwise when one day after work she's literally ...1
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Howl's Moving Castle
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