Howl’s Moving Castle is another beautiful animated feature from Hayao Miyazaki, who made the Oscar-winning and quite marvellous Spirited Away.
Young Sophie is transformed by a jealous witch into an old hag, so she flees town and heads for the wizard Howl’s castle. Once there, she is drawn into a bizarre world, caught between two kingdoms at war and the enigmatic Howl himself, who seems to be fighting for both sides.
Based on the novel by Welsh author Diana Wynne Jones, this isn’t as magical as Miyazaki’s previous film, but nonetheless is fascinating as you try to puzzle your way through the movie’s surreal landscapes and head-scratching plot twists. One for both adults and children, who often understand more of what’s going on so can explain it to the grown-ups. (Note that the film is available with English subtitles or in a dubbed version featuring the voices of Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal and Christian Bale.)
Is Howl’s Moving Castle suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The style of animation probably won’t appeal to young children, which is probably a good thing as there are some surreal images – while not specifically scary – that may give them nightmares.