Photos - Howl's Moving Castle

How can I possibly choose which screenshots to use from Howl's Moving Castle? The movie is so lush, so beautiful, its story so deep and complex. This is one film that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. It also requires you have a great knowledge of Miyazaki's long career, which is probably why so many American movie critics were left puzzled. They were expecting another Disney fairy tale. But this is not a Disney movie; it's a Fellini movie. This is Miyazaki's Juliet of the Spirits.

Why Westerners continue to see Hayao Miyazaki through the Walt Disney prism is a bit puzzling to me. Observe how his movies are always described as Japanese versions of Western fairy tales. Howl becomes "Beauty and the Beast." Spirited Away becomes "Alice in Wonderland." Ponyo becomes "The Little Mermaid." Very strange. These movies share only the most superficial connections, and this says far more about American stereotypes of animation than anything else. If the medium is ever to expand beyond its current infantile ghetto, this mindset will have to change.


Mikochan said...

I agree that people need to stop looking at Miyazaki movies as another Disney. I actually haven't heard those comparisons made to Howl's and Spirited Away, and I'm a little surprised because at best they are vaguely associated.

To be fair, Suzuki Toshio said in an interview that Ponyo was a mix of The Little Mermaid and Urashima Taro, a Japanese folk tale. But it's important for people to know that Ponyo is NOT The Little Mermaid - it was just partially inspired by it.

Howl's is also interesting because it's an adaptation of a book. I don't know how many reviewers read that book, but the author "spells things out" a lot more in it. A lot of the book was captured in Miyazaki's animation, without the need for dialogue, which is what I personally loved about it as an adaptation. (Besides just being a great stand alone movie.)

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

What's interesting about Miyazaki's "adaptations" is how freely he discards all but the skeletal frame. Like the plot of any Road Runner cartoon, he uses the original work to setup the action, and then takes off from there. Add in his complex, roaming, episodic directoral style, and you end up with movies that are unorthodox, non-linear, and very Asian.

We're used to movie spinoffs that are carbon copies of the books (Harry Potter comes to mind), but Miyazaki clearly doesn't have any lucrative franchises to protect. He's interested purely in telling his own stories. With Howl's Moving Castle, you get a sense of what elements resonated with him, which parts he stored away in his memories for years. Then he uses that framework to tell a greater story, one far more personal, using all his familiar icons and archetypes.

This, I'm sure, is what threw a lot of people of with Howl. They thought they were getting a movie version of the book. They weren't expecting Juliet of the Spirits instead. And you pretty much need the knowledge of his whole career, stretching back to Horus, Prince of the Sun, to understand and appreciate it. But that's what I love about Miyazaki's Howl. It's a collosus, an abstract collage of elements that should never fit, but do. Just like that walking castle.

blackcat1794 said...

I was thinking of Princess mononoke as Tarzan, she was raised by wolves (gorillas) meets the boy from the outside wold (Jane) and theres a crazy person trying to destroy her home (Clayton)...?

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