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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR AND A HALF STARS A young girl works with a cowardly wizard to stop war in Europe.

DRAMA Animation JAPAN Dubbed and Subtitled #HOWLSMOVINGCASTLE

Starring Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall

Hayao Miyazaki is noted for bringing Eastern animation to Western eyes. His popular style of anime won an Academy Award and his free-wheeling fable, SPIRITED AWAY¸ won audience hearts around the world. It followed on from the achingly beautiful PRINCESS MONONOKE and eccentric PORCO ROSSO.

Now he and his Studio Ghibli have turned their attention to a children’s novel by Dianne Wynne Jones, an English author in the tradition of Tolkien under whom she studied at Oxford. HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is an exciting story of magical devices, possessed creatures, crazed sorcerers and a healthy dollop of good overcoming evil.

Europe is on the brink of war when young Sophie becomes smitten by Howl, a handsome, vain and somewhat cowardly wizard. A curse befalls her, trapping Sophie in the body of a ninety year old woman. She seeks work at his castle, triggering events that threaten to destroy the world and take Howl with them.

Now what sounds like so much Harriet Potter is a striking if peculiar blend of Western story telling in a Eastern idiom. While there are sudden and confusing leaps of motivation and narrative, for no Miyazaki film would complete without them, this is still his most coherent work to date.

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE manages to thrill, fly and defy viewers in astounding measure, his elegant artwork continuing to define the genre. It’s full of whimsy and humour, and serves as a potent reflection of our days. “We live in dangerous times”, says Howl. While not to all tastes, there is such a refreshing wealth of creativity that only the most jaded viewer would not be provoked by Howl or his moving castle.



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