Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer), an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome-but-mysterious wizard named Howl (voiced by Christian Bale), and is subsequently turned into a 90-year old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) by the vain and conniving Wicked Witch of the Waste (voiced by Lauren Bacall). Embarking on an incredible odyssey to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl's magical moving castle where she becomes acquainted with Markl, Howl's apprentice, and a hot-headed fire demon named Calcifer (voiced by Billy Crystal). Sophie's love and support comes to have a major impact on Howl, who flies in the face of orders from the palace to become a pawn of war and instead risks his life to help bring peace to the kingdom.

Spectacular visuals and offers greater depth than the more popular CGI.

Although Miyazaki uses 2-D animation, it seems to have greater depth and feeling than anything I've seen lately through CGI. It's much easier to suspend your disbelief. Western audiences might find the traditional Japanese mysticism confusing at first, but if you let yourself go, you'll dive head first into a parallel world in which magic and nature work together. Miyazaki trusts that children will pick up on his complex ideas and accept them more readily than an adult audience. I think he brings real wisdom to the art of animation, something that Hollywood doesn't have a hope of doing.


Watch 'Howl's Moving Castle'

Wednesday 8 July, 1:15pm on SBS World Movies
Thursday 9 July, 3:25pm on SBS World Movies
Friday 10 July, 4:45am on SBS World Movies

Japan, 2004
Genre: Fantasy, Animation
Language: Japanese
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring (voice cast): Emily Mortimer, Jena Malone, Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale, Billy Crystal
What's it about?
Sophie, a teenage girl working in her family's hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when a handsome-but-mysterious wizard named Howl sweeps her off her feet. This innocent encounter enrages the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste, who transforms Sophie into a 90-year-old woman. Sophie's efforts to break the curse bring her to Howl's magical moving castle, where she befriends Markl, Howl's apprentice, and the hot-headed fire demon Calcifer.

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